Bahrain bloggers restarted their monthly gatherings after a break of some months. This get-together was organised by Mahmood Al Yousif as usual, but with more structure than previous sessions:
It was a good turnout in the end. We had 11 bloggers in there and a good amount of interest in the presentations. The “featured presentation” was to a visiting friend from Ireland – Mohammed Al-Kabour – who talked to us about his experiences in activism and lobbying and showed how we might adapt and adopt some of the tried and tested methods in our own endeavours.
Although it seems that having some structure to the meetings is a good idea, everyone agreed that five presentations were too much to take in.
We ended the session by my floating the idea to form a Bloggers’ Society and register it with the Ministry of Social Affairs. … The basic premise is that we would like to have an infrastructure that legally can support a blogger should s/he fall in trouble because of court cases brought against them and indeed to provide a legal entity that can organise various activities normally not possible outside of that realm.
A number of cases have been brought against Bahraini bloggers and journalists in recent months, and the latest was against Al Wasat newspaper journalist Hussain Khalaf. Mahmood gives his theory of why this has happened:
As young teenagers, we used to joke with each other that we should not drive our cars in the last week of the month, as it is in that week specifically – we naively thought – that the traffic police got to be rather conscientious about their job and handed driving offences left, right and centre. The reason, we surmised, was that they are ensuring that they get paid their salaries for that month from our fines!
If this is the motive behind these continuous harassing techniques by the public prosecution or the government in general, then let’s not waste time with all of this and start a “Writers Kitty” where every writer pays a subscription of a set amount per month and be done with it! That would save the prosecution’s, court’s and the public’s time and efforts and will hopefully get them all to dedicate their time more industriously investigating the myriad of delayed cases that desperately need resolved and fairly decided.
Meanwhile, Hussain Marhoon writes in his blog Madas Ayatallah (‘The Ayatollah's Sandals’) about his experiences – and bad habits – at university:
حدّ أنني مازلت أضيع بين ممراتها ذات التصاميم الفخيمة. وعند بداية كل فصل دراسي – كما هو الحال هذا الأسبوع -، أجد لزاماً عليّ اللجوء إلى قفّائي الأثر وعسس المباني المقوسة، لتحديد أماكن المحاضرات المسجلة عندي في الجدول الدراسي برموز لا أكاد أفقه منها شيئاً.
Finally, Tooners, an American married to a Bahraini, recounts more of her experiences of new motherhood in Bahrain:
We took Naief's documents to the Health Center two weeks ago to get his birth certificate. Well, Hashim went to pick it up yesterday and guess what….. they misspelled his name. … Instead of spelling it the way we wanted, it was spelled Nayef, and since we do not want our baby's name spelled that way, the hubby took it back to the health center and requested a change in the spelling.
All seemed fine until Tooner's husband was asked to go back to the health centre:
Seems their little office can't change the spelling of Naief's name… and you know why?!! Because they don't have the spelling we want in their freakin ass database!!!! … I've never heard of such a ridiculous statement “our database doesn't have that spelling so we can't spell it like that”. Doesn't anyone know how to CHANGE THE DATABASE?????
Good luck to Tooners in her quest, and more news from Bahrain in a week's time!