The Week That Was in Bahrain

For a small constitutional monarchy, with a population of about 700,000, Bahrain's blogosphere is sure never short of new topics for discussion and debate.

This week's new topics include the arrest of two activists, a rally to push authorities to probe what is now commonly referred to in Bahrain as the Bandargate scandal, the launch of Al Jazeera's English language channel and last but not least some rain in the kingdom to help the dust to settle!

When it comes to the arrests, Bandargate and the rally, my guess is as good as yours as to whether those issues are connected or not but who cares what I think, let's head to the blogs and see what Bahrain's bloggers have to say.

Let's start with the arrests, which Mahmood Al Yousif says could signal the end of belief in democratic reforms initiated in the Kingdom in 2001.

“The various things happening here are not helping this country and its people in the slightest; the parliamentary elections gerrymandering attempts, the direct and indirect support extremist Salafis and other Islamists are getting from the government against national figures, the iniquitous distribution of land, wealth, opportunities and electoral districts, the marginalisation of the Shi’a, the abject refusal of the government and the ruling family to face the consequences of the Bandargate scandal or even honestly initiate a thorough and impartial investigation into its claims, the continuation of those implicated in the scandal to continue to roam the Earth with impunity and their continuing employment in sensitive government positions unmolested, the restrictions exerted by law on freedoms of speech and assembly, the closure and/or blockage of websites, and various other ills which have surfaced over the last four years,” wrote Mahmood.

Babbling Bahrania is also angry with the arrests, adding that there is now no room for political dissent in the county.

“As long as you keep your views within the confines of a given political margin set according to some screwed up monarchial barometer you will be ok. This margin is set by laws promulgated through royal decrees. Over the last few years the most dangerous of laws have been set this way, laws banning group gatherings, press freedoms, impunity of former officials, societies laws, terrorism laws and now the banning of any debate/publications on Albandar. Two activists arrested last night in a printing shop whilst collecting a print order of a publication calling for the boycott of the upcoming elections were arrested and charged under new terrorism laws that can carry the death penalty,” she said.

For Silly Bahraini Girl, the arrests come as no surprise in a country she claims doesn't respect human rights.

“Every Bahraini should understand that he has no rights to demand answers and he should only know what he is allowed to know. He should fully understand that his rights as a subject are limited to bowing his head down in either servitude or shame or humiliation (doesn't really matter as long as it is low enough),” she wrote.

Manama Republic, says the two detainees of conscience as the latest to pay the high price of freedom in Bahrain.

“So swift the wheels of our ruling family justice turn in this constitutionally owned kingdom of theirs. When it suits their justice purposes that is. It has been more than 48 days since a ruling family judge slapped a gag order on Al-Bandar Report, and yet not a single legal proceeding was undertaken against the really and criminally seditious…..This is a country with a steep dignity tax. And Dr. Mohammed Saeed and Hussain al-Habshi, are the very latest payers of it. Willingly and courageously so,” he said.

Away from local news to the launch of Al Jazeera's English channel, which was welcomed by Bahrain's bloggers as a new outlet of information.

Haitham Sabbah found the new channel impressive.

“First impression… impressed! Although some of the themes looks like those of the BBC, but one can understand that a lot of Al Jazeera staff were recruited from there only. No harm done!
However, the reports were fair and objective (so far). Yet, it looks to have more focus on Africa, which is something new to me. We hardly know about our neighbors, and thanks to the local media and the international multimedia stream.
The bad news is the coverage,” he wrote.

Bahrania too was curious, and looked up the channel to see what the fuss was all about.

“I haven't watched enough to judge content, so just my aesthetic impression will suffice. In summary, I thought it had enough White household names to keep Western viewers happy, and more than enough Arabs with heavy Englsih accents to keep Arab viewers happy. Although probably the 30 second interview snippets they get on other English channels is more than I can usually bare (“All broblem habbening in 3irrraq izzz all Amreeeka faulld”) ,” she wrote.

Amid all this, there is some hope as it rained in Bahrain for a change.

“A nice friday for a change. Woke up to a moody morning and looked like it was about to rain. I am always looking forward to a rainy day, I guess I miss the rain. It was almost… never rains in Bahrain,” said Ammoontie.

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