Bahrain: Expats’ Part to Play

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.

Like all GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) member states, Bahrain depends greatly on foreign workforce especially from South Asian countries in both high and low level jobs. According to the Bahrain 2010 census, the expat community makes a slight majority with 51 per cent of Bahrain's 1.2 million strong population.

During Bahrain's recent protests and unrest, the expatriate community grew very concerned about their safety as reports of Pakistanis having been attacked in their homes in the capital Manama.

::D::, a journalist and blogger of Indian background who has spent most of her life in Bahrain, writes about her thoughts on the ongoing unrest in Bahrain:

Many expats in Bahrain, like me, have been born and brought up on this island. Our parents may not have the Bahraini passport, nor do we, but I wonder if that makes us any less citizen of this country just cuz the colour of our passport is not red. We are the community that has our origins in India, Pakistan, US or UK. Our parents migrated here decades ago, we have our livelihood here and Bahrain is where we call home.

The blogger at a pro-government rally at Al-Fateh Mosque

The blogger at a pro-government rally at Al-Fateh Mosque

We agree that Bahrain is not perfect; we agree that reforms were much needed, in the political front and definitely the media here needed be overhauled and reworked. There were also many who supported the cause of the protesters before it turned into anarchy. We heard their arguments and gave our feedback.

Many in the expatriate community are supportive of Bahrain's government as Bahrain prides itself as being a relatively liberal country that gives freedom to worship to all faiths and religions.

A lot of expatriates also came out in public in support of the Royal family. Many reacted when expatriates stepped out in favour of the government here, saying “it is their internal matter, why do you interfere?” To these critics I have but only one question, “Would you stand back and watch when your house, your country is getting hurt? Would you say it’s not my responsibility and stay away?” When our country is in crisis, it is our right and duty to step forward.

She also points out the developments in Bahrain's media towards the expatriate community.

The media has taken massive strides. We even have a desi private owned station here now. We have multiple newspapers in Arabic and English. Bahrain also prints Tagalog, Malayalam and Urdu newspapers here. Over the last month, state run BTV has struggled to keep us as updated as possible [though it might lean towards the government]. Yes, the media has come a long way but it still has miles to go. This week for the first time in history, BTV showed news bulletins in Tagalog and Hindi.

That in itself is a mark of respect and appreciation to the expatriate community.

She ends her post confident that the government will do their best to keep the expat community safe during these difficult times

For me and my family, the question of leaving does not cross our minds. This is where I was born, where my family had lived for almost thirty years, our home. The Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Bahrain have also assured that they will do the best to keep us safe. I trust them and I trust Bahrain.

The blogger is also on Twitter and can be found at @dilknml

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011.


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