Bahrain: A female preacher who gave something extra

This week Mahmood Al Yousif, who is facing legal action regarding comments he made on his blog, refers to the supposed freedom of expression in Bahrain:

No sooner than our king vowing to protect the freedoms of expression in Bahrain, than we get yet another journalist dragged in for questioning by the public prosecutor!
The honour this time goes to Ja’afer Al-Jamri of Al-Wasat (newspaper) with a complaint brought against him by a government ex-employee for libel even though it has been proven that the complainant was in the wrong! … Why does the public prosecution bother with these cases? Wouldn’t it have been better for them to throw the complaint out and save themselves some time? …This continuous hauling of opinion writers and journalists to the public prosecutor is the first line of “warning” these people to toe the line, especially when it is tied with criticism against the government, one of its employees or any other person society deems as “influential”.
This method is quite effective actually and I can tell you this from first hand experience. Not that I have stopped criticising (constructively still, mind you) but this method has been successful in varying degrees in silencing opinion writers who do not wish to spend some time being questioned, nor have their jobs and livelihood put in jeopardy. …It looks like the government still regards criticism as “disrespect” – probably in a tribal mentality – rather than a freely provided consultancy to better its ways!

Hasan is continuing his holiday back home in Bahrain:

Still in Bahrain and slightly getting aggravated by the simplest of things lately. … (although it's great getting to hang out at home with the family rather than in that cardboard box I call home on the second floor of a beauty salon owned by a member of a psycho cult in Tokyo.)

He attended the opening event of Bahrain's Spring of Culture, a series of cultural events to take place throughout March and April:

I went the FIRST event of 2007's Spring of Culture event in Bahrain. It was Marcel Khalife (from Lebanon) and Bahrain's very own Qassim Haddad presenting the “MAJNOON LAYLA PROJECT” – which was super. Sadly, too super for the Bahraini audience whose majority forgot to switch off their cellphones and leave their crying babies at home. The whole event was about poetry, music, dance and painting. It was the complete artistic experience. The most eye-popping thing (literally) was the REALLLLLY risky dancing. (Then again, how can only the arguably the greatest love story in history to be portrayed through dance?) I was expecting that the longbeards in Bahrain would – in this morning's newspapers and today's Friday prayers – denouncing this and use whatever nonsense they can stir up to strangle art and expression in Bahrain. (Even though this event happens only ONCE a year). My fingers are crossed that they (the longbeards) keep their mouths shut about this. Indefinitely.

Tooners is an American girl married to a Bahraini, and has just had her first baby. In her blog Hypnotic Verses, she describes some of the cultural issues she has had to face, such as whether to let her son be circumcised:

One big thing that will happen this Sunday is his circumcision. I'm dreading it. I know it only takes a few minutes, but the thought of him having the pain, even for that long, is more than I can bear. My husband's brother had the surgeon videotape the surgery and I think Hashim wants to do the same, but I really can't imagine it. I guess it's a guy thing. But really, in thinking about it, who would want to see such a thing once they get older?!! What guy would want to see that being done to him as a baby? My husband's brother thinks it's soooo cool and is very proud of the fact that he had it videotaped, but, really, I see no point in it. But… then again, maybe I'm missing something.

She also describes her frustration at everyone around her feeling free to tell her how to deal with her child:

The in-laws… well, I've been staying at our house and away from that unwanted stress. I find it easier to be here and to do things on my own. Even if I make mistakes… at least I learn from them. I do things differently than this culture does and find that it isn't looked at as a positive thing. And it's not just the in-laws that make the comments… I find that some women feel like it's their duty or think it's ok to butt in and give their opinions about things that are really none of their business. I can't tell ya how many times I've been told not to put the baby in an infant car seat! If I saw things from their point of view, I'd be hurting my baby and damaging his bones, as well as bruising him.

In his blog The Outsider, Mohammed Al Mubarak writes about his sister, who died in 2005, and who was a well-known ‘mulaya’, a preacher and leader of mourning for women.

تصف كبيرات السن الملاية الجيدة بأن “فيها ثمرة”، ويصفن الملاية التي لا تعجبهن بقولهم “ما فيها ثمرة”. الثمرة إضافة، و ثمرة الملاية هو ما تضيفه لمستمعاتها من إحساس متجدد بواقعة سمعن تفاصيلها كلها آلاف المرات. الملاية الحاجة فاطمة بنت الشيخ إبراهيم المبارك كانت تؤتي ثمرتها كل مرة …كل مستمعة تأخذ ثمرة مختلفة حسب ما يتأتى لها منها. تقول ابنتها الكبرى وتلميذتها أنها تمتلئ قوة وطاقة كلما جلست إليها.
Old ladies say about a good mulaya that she ‘bears fruit’, and describe the mulaya they don't like as ‘not bearing fruit’. The fruit is the ‘added value’, and the mulaya's fruit is what she adds for her audience in terms of new feelings when they have already heard all the details a thousand times. Mulaya Hajja Fatima Bint Al Sheikh Ibrahim Al Mubarak gave ‘added value’ every time. …. Her eldest daughter and her student says that she was filled with power and energy every time she sat with her.

This is all for this week. See you next Friday!

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