The Week That Was in Bahrain

Bahrain has just completed round two of its Parliamentary and Municipal Council elections, which saw a majority government-backed Islamist Parliament in place.

According to Mahmood Al Yousif, only one ‘liberal’ candidate made it to Parliament.

“All but one of the liberal candidates have not made it into the new parliament, which has a distinct Islamist feel to it: 17 Wefaq (Shi’a), 8 Minbar (Muslim Brotherhood) and 5 Asala (Salafis). That’s 75% of the make-up of parliament, but when you look closely at the rest, only one is liberal, and the rest have distinct Islamist leaning, one of those actually (Jassim Al-Saidi) is so extreme, even the Asala bloc cannot afford to publicly state that he belongs to them!” he wrote.

However, Mahmood is optimistic and thinks that the new Parliament shows a fairer representation of Bahrain.

“What makes me a bit more hopeful this time is that it looks like a proper parliament; the whole of Bahrain – virtually – entered the race and chose their representatives without a call for a boycott other than the Haq party, and they do not account for a big majority. What also makes me optimistic about this parliament is that Wefaq have gone with with a clear and declared agenda, and have chosen their people wisely with a good cross-section of technocrats too. Other than that and by virtue of them being run like a proper political party, they have a full back-office to support their efforts in parliament. That back office has access to political scientists through to businessmen to advise them on proposed legislation and budgetary discussions etc,” he explained.

Although public participation is one form of democracy, Babbling Bahraniawonders if there is a place for an Information Minister in a true democracy.

“‘In a dictatorship you can't speak. In a democracy you can speak,’ said Minister of Information Mohammed Abdul Ghaffar Abdulla.
He forgot to add ‘In a dictatorship I [MoI] have a job. In a democracy I don't have a job’,” she wrote.

Away from politics and sectarian divides in a country with a population of a little over 600,000, Bint Battuta writes about her complete disgust with the attitude of some people towards expatriate workers from third world countries.

“Some of the worst culprits are the ‘Westerners’ (for want of a better word) who when they come to the Gulf find themselves further up the class ladder, just because of the passport they are carrying. People who come from very ordinary backgrounds suddenly get to have servants and swimming pools and think they deserve whatever privileges their skin colour seems to bestow on them. This is also connected to what I was saying about language; a lot of privately-educated Bahrainis act as if speaking English makes them superior to those around them who can't,” she said.

The Bitch, a new blogger in town, gives us her two cents on the make up of the Bahraini community from her perspective and how different groups conduct themselves and behave.

She divides Bahrain's population into different groups based on sectarian and ethnical backgrounds.

In the world of worldly concerns, Bahraini Rants gives us some food for thought to ponder on about fish.

“A little bit of random information for you on a very popular fish: Chilean Seabass is actually called Patagonian Toothfish. Some 30 years ago, Augusto “I’ll show you Junta” Pinochet opened up Chile’s waters to foreign fisheries, and it didn’t take long for the competition to heat up and fishing grounds to dry up. Local fishermen were forced to venture out into deeper more dangerous unchartered waters in which they pulled out an ugly looking, but very meaty whitefish (an anomaly of evolution). The meat was oily, meaning that it was very difficult to overcook and it worked with just about any way you’d prepare it, plus more meat meant more money. In order to market the fish, a snazzier name than the Patagonian toothfish was needed, so they went with the exotic yet sophisticated choice – Chilean Seabass,” he said.

He moves on to discuss other foods and drinks in a very interesting article to say the least.


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