Bahrain: Regime and Opposition Begin National Dialogue

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

Since the Bahrain protests of February 14, 2011, the idea of opening a dialogue between the opposition and regime has been discussed on and off. A large number of people have refused any debate, perceiving it as useless and unable to serve their intentions and demands.

On Saturday July 2, the long-awaited dialogue finally started with the Waad secular group and the Wefaq Shia group participating, despite having members of their groups in jail facing military trials.

Social media reactions

When talking about the discussions, Bahraini Twitter users are mainly focusing on the names in charge of the debate, the way the opposition is being treated within the dialogue's sessions and their reactions, and the 400 persons detained since February 14 (some of whom were released recently), beside the fact that those protestors who were fired have not get their jobs back again.

Notable Bahraini Twitter user Abu Saber (@Moawen) wrote about those who lost their jobs saying:

@Moawen: While Bahrain claim it started a national dialogue, employees are still interrogated and fired from their jobs

Another Twitter user nicknamed Obeez (@Ba7rainyaWaft5r) who is using the picture of the Bahraini king as his avatar, attacked Shia Opposition group Wefaq writing:

@Ba7rainyaWaft5r: Wefaq entered the National Dialogue aiming withdrawing from it not reform!we know all their games by now.

Online Bahrain (@ONLINEBAHRAIN), a Twitter account for Bahraini news, also wrote critically about Wefaq saying:

@ONLINEBAHRAIN: Some1 should tell Wefaq 2 stop criticizing the dialogue in the media cos the more they do the sillier they look for participating

On the other side, Wefaq (@Wefaqsociety) [ar] itself has written its reactions on the national dialogue through Twitter, quoting their leader Ali Salman:

الأمين العام الشيخ علي سلمان:اثناء الحوار من حق أن الناس أن تعتصم وتتظاهر، وإن لم ينجح الحوار سنعود للشارع

: General Secretary Sheikh Ali Salman: During dialogue, people have the right to sit-in and protest. If the dialogue does not succeed, we will go back to the streets.

Activist Maryam AlKhawaja (@maryamalkhawaja), the daughter of detained opposition figure Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, warned people of arguing and creating clashes between opposition, she wrote saying:

@maryamalkhawaja: Bahrain, plz remember ur grievances r not with each other, whether Sunni or Shiaa, whether you're with the ND or not, it's with the regime

The older sister of Maryam, Zainab (@angryarabiya), has tweeted several times about the national dialogue and how she refuses it. Zainab's father, husband, and uncle are all detained and she went on a hunger strike for them over a month ago:

@angryarabiya: This is not a dialogue, this is the king trying to put up a show. He's not even trying to make it seem fair.

She adds:

@angryarabiya: The future we want for Bahrain will include putting these torturers on trial, not giving them an important role in the dialogue.

A Bahraini woman called Om Haidar (@FREE_BAHRAIN1) also criticizes the dialogue saying:

@FREE_BAHRAIN1: Naivety of the Government of Bahrain to spread an atmosphere of national dialogue and practiced killing against each opponent!

She also wrote:

@FREE_BAHRAIN1: National dialogue must be accompanied by an atmosphere of calm from the police not to fire on all demonstrators out in this period!

Founder of Al-Wasat newspaper Mansoor AlJamri (@MANSOOR_ALJAMRi) who along with other journalists is facing charges from the government of fabricating news during the protests, tweeted in the past three days his notes on the debate, noting among others the following point:

الأجندة التي وزعت على الحوار الوطني ااختفت منها اي إشارة الى موضوع التمييز، ولكن اغفال هذا السرطان يعني موتا بطيئا للجسد البحريني

@MANSOOR_ALJAMRi: The Agenda distributed today in the National Dialogue had no reference to the issue of discrimination. Ignoring this cancer means a slow death for the Bahraini body.

Abu Ahmed (@safybh) tried to be helpful:

@safybh: we have to stop fearing, opp joined ND relying on your determination, we shouldn't fear the outcome,cause we have the power to change things

Khalid Mohammed (@Khalid0901) was already hopeful and seemingly trusting of the dialogue writing:

@Khalid0901: Bahrain National Dialogue will be a healing process that will allow it to recover from the unfortunate incidents of the past.

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

Thumbnail image of Bahrain flag by Flickr user abcdz2000 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

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