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Bahrain: When ‘moderate’ means ‘acquiescent’

This week some Bahraini bloggers took part in an evening regarding the role of blogging in cultural development, and the literary aspect of online writing in particular. Hisham Khalifa has posted his introduction to the evening:

Culture is not created by governments, kings, queens or presidents. It’s not created by corporations either. Culture is you and me. And in today’s world of fleeting electrons, culture is not about ceremony, there’s no need to speak or wax eloquent as was done in days past in order to define ourselves, or to gather traditions of a pedantic nature. All we need is a keyboard and a willingness to share our experiences to make them part of our culture. Be it in the arts, literature or the humanities in general, blogging enables each and everyone of us to contribute in an almost instant way to the cultural development of our own peoples.

Continuing in a cultural vein, aMaL is deeply disappointed with a concert given by the renowned Bahraini oud player and singer Khalid Al Shaikh, but makes some allowances:

What disturbed me the most about Al Shaikh’s performance was that he failed to pay attention and cater to his devoted Bahraini audience. Al Shaikh developed his “sophisticated” style in music so far away from the ground and forgot to create a rational link between his early, locally popular, Bahraini songs and his new rigid dreamy style. … I am very upset with and for Khalid Al Shaikh. It is such a shame that Bahraini artists froze in the early nineties, and that includes actors, comedians and musicians. However, considering the current miserable living conditions and the lack of proper freedom of expression, how can you expect a bird to sing lively?

The Nido Generation is a blog dedicated to “Nido-ers”, wealthy, trendy Bahrainis with a Western education. Recently Nido has devoted some posts to the Nido Generation fondness of the networking site Facebook, and comments on the use of the description ‘moderate’ in profiles:

So let us go back to square one and ask what does this “moderate” mean, particularly in a political setting? One would like to think that “moderate” would stand for even handedness, an ability to consider all viewpoints, maybe even being fair, objective, and balanced in their approach of viewing issues. Moderate might even carry an air of giving equal chance to differing viewpoint to express themselves and choosing the most reasonable sounding of them. Indeed, we are accustomed to associate “nice” and “good” traits with being “moderate”. Contrast this with the term “extremist”, which from the beginning is surrounded by a negative vibe to it. Indeed, you don’t find many nidoers describing their political viewpoints as “extremist” on facebook.

If one digs deeper into the term “moderate” it becomes obvious that, from the standpoint of nidoers at least, the term “moderate” stands for none of the above nice qualities listed. Moderate instead should be read as “not wanting much changes to the status quo” or “not having the guts to ask for changes to the status quo” or “acquiescing or meekly accepting whatever the status quo is”. This “acceptance of the status quo” could be because it is in one’s interest or because of other motives e.g. out of fear. In the case of nidoers it is definitely because it is in their interest. Remember, they get the flashy cars, jobs, partners, houses. Why wouldn’t they be “moderate”?

Finally, LuLu writes with frustration about the forthcoming round of Formula 1 in Bahrain, and what she sees as its inevitable financial failure:

I'm not totally idealistic about this… I realize most projects require an initial investment and may not yield profits for years, but I see no hope for this one. I mean, it's a great concept with lots of potential (even my mom attended the 1st season) but I don't think the point of it was to create 1 day of local fun for Bahrainis! I mean, something must be wrong if we can't get people to actually visit Bahrain and buy tickets and it's already the 3rd year!

More from Bahrain next week!

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