It's showtime in Bahrain where bloggers are preoccupied with a new craze – a campaign to wipe out sectarianism started by no other than the kingdom's most illustrious blogger Mahmood Al Yousif.
In response to a scandal which shook the country, Mahmood decided to fight fire with fire and launch a movement to fight sectarianism in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, with an estimated 60 per cent Shia population.
A decision by court to ban newspapers from publishing anything about the scandal, better known as Bandargate, did not go well with the outspoken blogger.
“and he shall be henceforth called: He Who Must Not Be Named [HWMNBN or BOO! for short], as dictated by our completely partial judicial system, further entrenching the age-old custom and tradition of sweeping problems under a carpet and deem them summarily resolved!” writes a very angry Mahmood.
“OOOOOkay then Mr. Senior Criminal Court and illustrious BNA, let me tell you – and I’m a mere mortal mind you and have no degree in lawyering, that the document signed by the Kingdom of Bahrain and submitted to the United Nations dealing with that thing called Human Rights unequivocally states:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
So you can kiss my whatsit. I’ve got PROOF that the country is heading very quickly to be the Darfour of the Gulf in a few years time, and hear me say this as loud as I can:
NO SHI’I AND NO SUNNI…
So bugger off and let us solve the problem while you continue to just want to hide (and create) problems rather than face and diligently work toward solving them,” he continues.
The following day Mahmood called upon bloggers to fix a button on their websites, bearing a simple message: “No Shi'i, No Sunni, Just Bahraini.”
Responses to his campaign snowballed, with bloggers carrying the torch and spreading the word. From virtual buttons, the blogger started distributing actual buttons, thanks to the generousity of a Bahrain company and then launched a Just Bahraini Flickr Group.
Mahmood's message is loud and clear:
“There has been a lot of sectarian foolishness in Bahrain recently, spotlighted in a dramatic fashion by the Dr. Al-Bandar (Bandargate) report.
This is an attempt to cauterize the wound of sectarianism by amplifying the “One Bahrain” message,” he writes.
As if fueling segretation isn't enough, Bahrain once again shows its sensitivity to the Internet and freedom of expression by blocking a few websites.
From the other side of the pond, Chanad Bahraini emerges with two posts linking news articles written about Bandargate in the International Press! It really would be nice to see whether the Bahrain high court can try and muzzle the New York Times, The Guardian and Qahwa Sada from writing about Bandargate!
In other matters, Tooners wants to know which is the greatest gift: wisdom of laughter; MSB got a nasty email about him not intended for his eyes; and MoClipper not only bought a guitar but also wrote a song!