Bahrain's roller-coaster week in review

Bahrain, for its small size, and the recent political freedom experienced since March '99 when the new King, Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, took the reigns and inaugurated sweeping political freedoms, just about every Bahraini citizen and resident has become a political pundit! This has given rise to more than 60 blogs, the majority of which are active and almost all of them concerned with local politics specifically and international politics generally, very few of these could be classified as purely personal journals, although those are available aplenty when you add the literally hundreds of student blogs from the Bahrain University mainly as well as a burgeoning community of teenagers from the Bahrain School which is a part of the USA Department of Defense Education Activity catering not only for the US Navy's personnel children, the US Navy‘s 5th Fleet's being headquartered in Bahrain, but also for quite a number of Bahrainis.

The Bahraini blogosphere explosion continues apace and keeps up with newly launched blogs by listing and aggregating them which is automatically updated every hour.

This week in Bahrain has been a roller-coaster of emotions where the parliament once again demonstrated it's disconnect from this century according to Mahmood at Mahmood's Den, he suggests that as they seem to be inviolate, it is best to join them and start selling cane sticks for the forthcoming religious police (mutawwas) to use to “judiciously” shepherd the faithful to a forced Friday prayer and sermon. Although the parliamentary wish has not become law yet, it has gathered quite powerful opposition by civic societies like the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce & Industry as well as a number of influential journalists (arabic). Amidst all of this fracas, a new Bahraini blogger: Jaffar questions the need for the “Athan” call for Muslim prayer through loudspeakers.

Manama Republic, the scathing political blog by an anonymous author continues to exhume hidden motives by the establishment; his latest topic examines what he feels is the condescending attitudes of the local business community in establishing a charity organisation which will associate help hitherto done anonymously with this new business charity and social organisation. He goes on to explain the relationships between the various layers of Bahraini society with the ruling regime and explains how the further out a Bahraini family or individual is from the central “table” the more difficult their life is.

There has also been other quite unfortunate events on the island, specifically various road traffic accidents deaths in which both eMoodz and The Joker highlight as avoidable. The Joker particularly has novel ideas on how to curb further traffic accidents, while eMoodz graphically narrates his experience with death, both in the family recently and on the road. I personally believe that the solution lies with the Traffic Department who should actually implement relevant rules and regulations and penalise errant motorists, rather than continue to be simple road-clearing devices for royalty and dignitaries.

Keeping with the traffic theme, the LiB Team are once again fuming and are on the rampage against inconsiderate car parking, providing ample photographic evidence and end with a threat to create “new aerodynamic air-holes” in offending cars had their owners not heeded their very valuable advice.

Ali Al-Saeed, the first, and until very recently the only Bahraini English-language novelist, tells us that the Second Literary Meet for Arab Youths has started on Dec 21st in which he might participate in by reading from his novel and short stories at the Bahrain Writer's Association and Al-Rewaq Art Gallery. While Bahraini Rants continues to educate his readership by providing his weekly vocabulary improvement clinic by providing three new words which must be incorporated into a normal conversation. Cancer, a new Bahraini blogger, however laments the absence of a lot of Bahraini intellectuals from the Internet, which he and others find very frustrating.

Ba7raniah* (arabic) on the other hand demonstrates how one could skive off school or work by padding official holidays with a few days sick leave and another couple of days compensation for the holidays actually falling on weekends!

    * Arabs use the English number 7 as a substitute for a hard “H” sound, so this particular word should be read as “Bahraniah”, the word also has ethnic ramifications as Bahraini people who belong to the Shi'a sect of Islam identify themselves as Bahranis, while those who follow the Sunna version of Islam call themselves Bahrainis – slight difference in pronunciation, but demonstrates ethnic pride and differentiation.

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