Bahrain: When Only Illegal Prawns Will Do

Freedom of speech is always a hot topic in Bahrain, and we start this week by looking at some of the apparent contradictions in official policy. Mohammed AlMaskati tells us:

The internet has always been the alternative “peoples media” when it came to news of the political standpoints of local issues. Blogs and Forums are very widely spread around the country; typically every small village has a forum of its own, usually used to announce news of public social events like marriages, deaths and such, others are very wide in content and extend over political and religious debate to offer semi-live coverage of protests, marches and clashes with the local police, shedding a light of truth on the local congested political scene that is typically either ignored or marginalized by the public press.

Mohammed has found more and more instances of violence being promoted on such forums, and he asks why opposition leaders who do not endorse such activities are threatened with legal action, yet:

Violence and sectarian divides are being provoked before our own eyes on the internet, what are they doing against it?

Mahmood Al Yousif also examines the ‘inciting hatred’ charge that he claims is thrown at opposition leaders so quickly:

Okay, talk – against another old adage – is not cheap in Bahrain. It can cost you your freedom!

LuLu addresses what she says is Bahrain's ‘culture of impunity':

…our government, and pro-government parties, have been trying consciously to blur any memories of government oppression or conspiracy in fear of damaging the perfect picture of a unified, proud Bahrain, and their own image of benevolence. … All nations have moments in their history that make them feel especially proud. All of them have moments of shame as well. In order to foster healing and “real” unity, Bahrain cannot afford to continue on this path of “unaccountability” and denial.

Cradle of Humanity was shocked this week by an acquaintance buying a huge amount of prawns illegally caught out of season, ostensibly for religious reasons:

Why did he buy 70 kilograms of illegally fished prawns when he certainly did not have to? Not for business, I know that much for sure.

“But it is prawns reproduction season. You are practically not letting the prawns reproduce”. “We cook prawns Machboos every year on the commemoration of Imam Ali’s death. Whenever I have that quantity of prawns available I have to snatch it and stock it”.

Now his reasoning not only made me feel worse, but rather appalled. That occasion is supposed to be a spiritual one, a religious philosophy celebrating sacrifice, fighting for the cause and devotion. How that can mandate fishing prawns when it is endangering our ecological system is beyond me. Now I did not only feel bad for the poor prawns, but also for the poor occasion.

Could not your Machboos be lamb or chicken? Could you not wait at least, with the occasion being four months away (21st Ramadan)? How about dried prawns – popular for Machboos in Bahraini cuisine? … With such a mentality about marine life, are we really expecting the government to respect and preserve our environment, and not destroy our Fashts (coral reefs) or reclaim our sea?

Silly Bahraini Girl has left Bahrain after coming back for a holiday and family visit, and is back at home in Canada. She says:

Isn't it sad that I am happy to be back ‘home’ – a home which is zillions of light years away from where my heart is?

I am back to the safety and comfort of my pad in Canada and I can say I am content and happy here. I strangely feel safe and secure. I am also more in touch with Bahrain virtually. … I also have all my sisters and friends online … and they are actually making the effort to chat to me. Even my nephews and nieces are talking to me and giving me undivided attention as they speak directly into the mic .. to tell me how my Arabic accent sucks.

My four-year-old niece had the nerve to tell me that although she fully understands my Ba7rani (Bahraini Shi'a) accent.. she will not speak it. She explained to me that I say: nadheef (clean) and not nedheef! That I say erjoool (leg) and not iryool! That I say wajed (a lot) and not wayed!! and the list goes on!

As a compromise, she said we better communicate in English from now onwards .. as that is a common language we both understand. … What a world we live in!

More from Bahrain – and Bahrainis around the world – next week!

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