Bahrain: Don't Press ‘Forward’, Press ‘Search’

We start this week with Sayyed Mahmood Al A'ali, who is pondering what he claims is a special preoccupation of the Arabs – conspiracy theories:

طالما أدهشني الحس العربي لنظريات المؤامرة!
فحتى تركيب إشارات المرور واستخدام الكوبريات يعتبره البعض من نظريات المؤامرة ..
اللغة الانجليزية في رأي البعض مؤامرة..
تغيير العطلة من الخميس والجمعة إلى الجمعة و السبت مؤامرة ..
إعصار غونو مؤامرة ايضاً ..
I'm often astonished at the Arab perception of conspiracy theories!
Even the organization of the traffic lights and the use of flyovers are considered by some to be part of a conspiracy…
The English language is conspiracy for some…
The change of the weekend from Thursday and Friday to Friday and Saturday is a conspiracy…
Hurricane Gonu is a conspiracy too…

Redbelt received an email full of conspiracy claims; his summary of it follows:

This is telling Arab Muslims that:
1.They shouldn't use the word “Mosque” because it means mosquito house! And it should be called “Masjid” as it is called in Arabic.
2.That they shouldn't spell the holy city as “Mecca” because it means “the house of liquor” and thus must be spelled “Makkah”.
3.And lastly, that we should write the name of our beloved prophet as Muhammed and not to abbreviate it to MOHD because that latter means a wide mouthed Dog.
And the forwarded e-mail goes on that this is serious and you should tell everyone.

This is of course pure, grade A, utter %#e$$^.
I know many people just forward this out of good will but please oh please do not spread ignorance! Hell, Islam says that we should verify news and you don't! Just go do a Google search, a Wikipedia search and look in the dictionary. For Goodness sake, it took me 5 seconds to verify that this is bull. … Please oh please, DO NOT press forward. Press Search.

H. explains his long silence:

There just wasn't any news or residual after-thoughts that were worth reflecting on. The newspapers are reporting stupid headlines and stories of ridiculously low-quality. Parliament members are finding themselves a new game playing Cluedo, forming committees and “investigating” malpractice. Police, I reckon, are bidding on finding the lowest paid hooker. Oh oh, and check this out, the media have been calling the CNN names for documenting poverty in Bahrain. Now I can really understand why we are so upset with the CNN: we don't need the CNN to portray an ugly picture of Bahrain, we do a good job doing that by ourselves, thank you very much.

Concerned Citizen X seems to agree, as he describes attending a work seminar:

I was driving to the venue already 10 minutes late; the music was at full blast from my IPOD and I was in the groove, ready for anything.
I didn’t expect the power to be off! Thank you very much Ministry of E & W for embarrassing us in front of the foreign guests and making us look like a third world country, Bravo. It wasn’t until 9:15 am that the power was restored and we were back in the auditorium, before then we were fanning ourselves with leaflets just to keep cool.

And Silver has even harsher words for some of Bahrain's ministers:

Am I the only one noticing this? … I have noticed in the past few weeks a consistent attack on the citizens of our lovely country. Mainly coming from the government ministers by blaming the citizens for every kind of problem this country faces. The story begins with the Minister of Electricity and Water, we all read the comment in the papers, blaming on the citizens for the electricity blackouts in different areas of Bahrain. Second attack comes from the Minister of Labour, blaming Bahrainis for the unemployment problem. Saying that Bahrainis are sitting on their behinds and expecting jobs to come to them. Third attack comes Minister of Social Affairs (the smartest of them all), and I quote “Bahrainis only want to work in offices and comfortable jobs”, as a response to the question why so many foreigners are working in Bahrain.

Manama Republic describes this as ‘government by the fault-free for the fault-free':

By default, a constitutional, absolute monarchy is absolutely fault-free, unless royally decreed otherwise. So, a gentle public service reminder to fellow commoners of this faultfreeocracy: Next time you want to open your mouth to complain about key thing or turn your accusatory finger at key person, you better double lock your facts first. Chances are (at a regal 98.4%) that the fault may lie right at your doorstep (if you have one), or in your indoor wiring, or in your own brain wiring. This doesn’t lock you out of your constitutional right to complain (within agreed low decibels), only cordon you off from unnecessary embarrassment, not to mention a defendant dock at courtly places.
So when the Inherently Elevated, Ma3ali Minister of Electricity says that the source of your melt and swelter power-cut home is your neighbor’s extra room for his newly wed son, then this is a fact to switch by. … And when the Happily Elevated, Sa3adat Minister of Labour says that your productivity is a third of your European co-worker, he is being charitable rather than normally candid. … At a slightly lower strategic level, when Her Happily Elevated, Sa3adat Minister of Social Affairs, says that Bahrainis are lazy bunch who prefer to be unemployed than take tough challenging jobs, she is damn sure of her facts. … The summery executive summary? Buy a generator.

LuLu feels angry at an apparent flouting of the rule of law:

Rule of law sounds like a nice concept, unless you're one of those who in the past couple of decades or so considered themselves to be above and beyond any law. Take the so-called Malkiya “powerful man”: Malkiya is a small Bahraini fishing village, meaning that access to the sea is the lifeline of Malkiya's people. Now theoretically, Malkiya's shore is public property, except that a certain powerful person happened to be “granted” land by the sea.
In Bahrain, land distribution is a huge problem. Throughout the past years (or at least until the present King's time), lands have been distributed right and left in a semi-tribal fashion of ruler granting land his family and friends out of “generosity” (well, that's my polite word for it). The Malkiya “strong person” is just one of those who happened to be owning this piece of land by the sea. … In 2005, he started building an illegal “separation wall” that would have cut the fishermen's access to the public shore. The owner didn't even bother to get a building permit and was extending the wall almost 2.5Km into the sea. Of course, normally you would expect some legal action to be taken to A. Stop it and B. punish this outright violation. But since he is “powerful,” neither the Ministry of Municipalities, municipal council, nor the parliament could do anything. At the end, after significant embarrassment and press coverage, the King “talked” to the guy and he (graciously) agreed to stop building the wall.
Now the same person has decided to pull another antic. Why should the villager be fishing on “his” shore? and why bother with a professional fishing license and what not? Surely powerful people can exploit marine resources themselves?

Mahmood is also questioning the application of the law:

While I value the role of some members of the ruling family are doing in the development of this great country and their countless philanthropic activities which I know they are not waiting to be thanked for because they see these efforts as their duty, I have noticed that some ministers have started posting non-discreet “thank you notes” signing them with their personal names rather than that of their ministries at least.
I value His Excellency The Minister Mansour bin Hassan bin Rajab’s diligence in thanking Her Majesty the Queen for patronizing the opening of the Andalus Garden in Manama – which I am anxious to visit and benefit from in gardening ideas as a budding gardener myself – but my question here is: is it appropriate for His Excellency the Minister of Agricultural Affairs and Municipalities to sign such a thank you note personally? … Unless of course he paid for these himself from his own personal funds, then I have absolutely no problem with it whatsoever, He is free to utilise his own money how He sees fit. However, if He used the Ministry’s funds to do so, I would have thought that there are rules and laws against that which might go into the mismanagement of public funds and position areas.

We end with Hasan, a Bahraini who is studying in Japan, who poignantly describes the affinity he felt with a young homeless man:

This afternoon at 3.00pm, Kokubunji Station and its vicinity was a busy, busy place. … Today, as I walked by these usual nameless faces I was surprised to catch a glimpse of what seemed to be a homeless man. Unlike most of the homeless I have come across in Tokyo, this man was quite young; in his late 20s, I’d say. Who knows; if his hair wasn’t so mangy, his clothes so tattered, his eyes so blank – he might have even been a half-decent looking guy. The strange thing about him was that he was wearing a heavy jacket (despite the heat) and had an unusual smile on his face. People seemed to walk around him/dodge him/walk straight through him just as they did to me, and I started to feel an immediate affinity, at least at first glance. The two of us were both invisible to everyone else.
It didn’t seem that he noticed me, either (not that I wanted his attention). I guess I was invisible to the invisible.

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