Editor’s note: Recent events in Bahrain (and elsewhere) suggest that the Fake Civil Society (FCS), i.e., the urban elite proxies and flatterers of the poweful establishment, is not a phenomenon specific to Pakistan. Reports from Bahrain suggest that while the majority of people in Bahrain are unanimous in their demand for democracy, equality and freedom, the FCS of Bahrain too are unanimous in their support for the dictatorial khalifah because of their financial, class and sectarian interests and inclinations. The following are some extracts from recent news reports which reflect the true nature and direction of the FCS of Bahrain.
“They have no clear demands.”
Earlier in the day, a group of journalists attempting to enter Bahrain had been detained at the airport. Technically, it is a requirement by the government that journalists apply to the Information Ministry before arriving. However, that restriction has always been waived in the past. Seven hours after my arrival, a Press Ministry official arrived to apologize, explaining that the “situation” made things difficult. He allowed us to pass through immigration and graciously offered us a ride to our hotel.
It was a public-relations ambush. We realized it as soon as our convoy turned a corner and headed straight into a progovernment protest of honking cars, with flags flying from windows and men and women standing and waving from the sunroofs of their vehicles. Amal Abdul Kareem, whose bright red lipstick matched the flag she waved from her window, said, “We are here supporting our King, our country. We are here hand in hand to show our loyalty.” I asked her what she thought of the antigovernment protests; lifting her crystal-studded Gucci sunglasses, she replied, “They have no clear demands. It is unbelievable. The things that they want will take years, and they want them in two days.”
Embedded among the loyalists, it took us three hours to reach our hotel along a road that is only a few kilometers long. As we reached the end of the parade, Ahmed, a banker, leaned over to tell me over the din of honking horns, “The claims of discrimination [by the demonstrators, who are generally Shi’ites] is made up. It is unfair on the others when the government is blackmailed by other sects. They are taking advantage.” He added, “If there were no freedoms here in Bahrain, I wouldn’t be able to talk to you. It is the same for the protesters. They have the same freedom to express their views.”
The scene at the hospital told a different story, as the injured were brought in from where they had gathered in the area of the Pearl Roundabout expressing their views. Many of the victims were young men. The women were recovering from inhaling tear gas. A young child who had been burned by a tear-gas canister wailed, attended to by several nurses. Orderlies attended to a man whose leg was shattered into pulp by a bullet. Another victim was rushed into trauma surgery. The hospital was so overrun with patients that men crowded the women’s wing.
As I spoke to Dr. Haicham, I heard a shout through the hallway: “CPR team! CPR team!” I told her about the progovernment rally I’d seen earlier that day. Her face fell. “They don’t know the truth. They only listen to Bahrain TV. The government says, ‘We are protecting you from the Shi’ites. If they take over, they will kill you.’ ” The doctor, who is half-Sunni and half-Shi’ite, said, “The biggest danger is not [the people] here in the hospital. But if the government succeeds in dividing the Sunni from the Shi’a, that will be the real disaster.”
A sham ‘unity alliance’
Bahrain sets up ‘unity alliance’
A new alliance called “Bahrain National Union” was launched on Saturday, comprising citizens from all walks of life who advocate peaceful approach in voicing their demands.
This came as several civil society organisations held a meeting bringing together trade union leaders, academics, jurists, workers, writers and artists representing Sunni, Shi’ite and other sects in Bahrain.
A statement called on all parties to put national interest above sectarian differences. Freedom of expression, formation of political societies and trade unions, peaceful demonstrations and other forms of freedom are guaranteed by the Constitution and international conventions, it said.
Al Khalifa rule is the ever-lasting choice of Bahraini people, the statement said, rejecting calls to change the ruling system by force. It also stressed the need to adopt constructive dialogue, cement national unity and steer clear of sectarianism.
Earlier in the day, tens of thousands of Bahrainis flocked to Manama in a massive show of support for His Majesty King Hamad and the Bahraini government. They included men and women of all ages from across the country, who formed a motorcade draped in Bahraini flags and pictures of the King. Others walked holding up flags, banners and images of the country’s leaders as the parade snaked from the Ahmed Al Fateh Mosque (Grand Mosque), Juffair, to the Crowne Plaza and back along the Al Fateh Highway. There was a sea of red and white, the colours of Bahrain’s national flag, as people chanted their support for His Majesty, His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa and His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander.
The parade was organised in response to a series of anti-government protests this week and included a number of religious leaders, MPs and municipal councillors.
-TradeArabia News Service