“Protesters have no clear demands”: Fake Civil Society of Bahrain

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Why are Pakistan’s urban chatterers neglecting the Bahrain uprising?

U.S. follows two paths on unrest in Iran and Bahrain – by Mark Landler and David E. Sanger

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.”

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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


Finally, some pictures of the true civil society of Bahrain:

4 responses to ““Protesters have no clear demands”: Fake Civil Society of Bahrain”

  1. بحرین کے دارالحکومت مناما کے پرل سکوائر میں ایک بار پھر مظاہرین کی ایک بہت بڑی تعداد جمع ہوئی ہے۔ انہوں نے چوک میں اپنے کیمپ اور ایک عارضی ہسپتال قائم کر لیا ہے اور ایسا لگتا ہے کہ وہاں کچھ عرصے تک قیام کا ارادہ رکھتے ہیں

    بحرین میں مظاہرین حکومت سے وسیع پیمانے پر سیاسی اصلاحات اور پرامن سیاسی تبدیلی کا مطالبہ کر رہے ہیں۔ بحرینی فوج نے جمعرات کو طاقت کا استعمال کرتے ہوئے اس چوک میں موجود مظاہرین کو منتشر کر دیا تھا تاہم سنیچر کو فوج کی جانب سے علاقہ خالی کیے جانے کے بعد مظاہرین پھر سے پرل سکوائر میں داخل ہوگئے تھے۔

    اب تک بحرین میں حکومت مخالف مظاہرین اور سکیورٹی فورسز کے درمیان جھڑپوں میں چار افراد ہلاک اور دو سو تیس سے زائد زخمی ہو چکے ہیں۔

    بحرین کی اکثر آبادی کا تعلق شیعہ فرقے سے ہے لیکن یہاں سنی اقلیت برسرِ اقتدار ہے اور حکومت ان مظاہروں کو فرقہ واریت سے جوڑ رہی ہے۔

    برطانیہ سے سنہ انیس سو اکہتر میں آزادی حاصل کرنے کے بعد سے بحرین کے سنی مراعاتی طبقے اور کم خوشحال شیعہ اکثریت کے درمیان کشیدگی رہی ہے اور شیعہ گروپوں کا الزام ہے کہ وہ غیر اہم بن کے رہ رہے ہیں، ان کے لیے غیر منصفانہ قانون ہے اور انھیں طاقت سے دبایا جاتا ہے۔

    سنہ انیس سو ننانوے میں کشیدگی اس وقت قدرے کم ہوئی جب شیخ حماد بحرین کے امیر بنے۔ انھوں نے سیاسی قیدیوں کو رہا کیا، ملک بدر لوگوں کو وطن واپس آنے کی اجازت دی اور اس قانون کو ختم کر دیا جس کے تحت حکومت افراد کو تین سال تک مقدمہ چلائے بغیر حراست میں رکھ سکتی تھی۔

    سنہ دو ہزار دو میں انھوں نے اپنے شاہ ہونے کا اعلان کردیا اور فرمان جاری کیا کہ ملک میں ایک قومی اسمبلی بنائی جائےگی۔ اسی سال ملک میں انتخابات ہوئے لیکن اپوزیشن نے ان کا بائیکاٹ کر دیا۔مبصرین کہتے ہیں کہ شاہ نے عوام سے جو وعدے کیے تھے ان میں سے بہت سے


  2. کج فہم و بے عقل…نجم سیٹھی

    سب سے زیادہ جس چیز نے پی پی پی کی حکومت کی معاملات سے نبردآزما ہونے کی نا اہلی کو نمایاں کیا ہے وہ ریمنڈ ڈیوس کیس ہے اور اس عمل میں پی پی پی نے اپنے ایک مضبوط رہنما شاہ محمود قریشی کو بھی کھو دیا ہے۔ ایک دانا اور متحرک حکومت 48 میں یہ کیس نمٹا دیتی۔ صرف یہ دیکھنا تھا کہ سفارتی استثنا ثابت کرنے میں کتنا وقت لگتا ہے اور قومی مفاد کس چیز میں ہے۔ اس مسلےٴ پر ایک واضح فیصلے کی ضرورت تھی۔ اگر ڈیوس کو امریکیوں کے حوالے کرنا تھا تو دفتر ِ خارجہ کو واضح طور پر اس کی وضاحت کرنا چاہیے تھی اور پنجاب میں شریف حکومت کو بتانا چاہیے تھا کہ اس معاملے میں عدالتی کاروائی نہیں ہو سکتی۔ اور اگر اس معاملے میں امریکی کو استثنا حاصل نہیں تھا تو بھی پی پی پی حکومت کو اپنے قدموں پر کھڑے ہو کر پی ایم ایل (ن) کو عوام اور میڈیا میں سیاسی نمبر بڑھانے کی اجازت نہیں دینی چاہیے تھی۔ اس معاملے میں شواہد تو یہی بتاتے ہیں کہ صدر زرداری ڈیوس کو امریکیوں کے حوالے کرنا چاہتے تھے مگر شاہ محمود قریشی اور دفترِخارجہ نے اُن کے پاؤں جکڑ لیے اور مبہم حقائق فاش کرتے ہوئے پی پی پی حکومت کے اقدامات کے راستے میں رکاوٹ بنے۔
    شاہ محمود قریشی کا کردار بھی قدرے مشکوک ہے۔ اُس نے دفتر ِ خارجہ کو مبہم افشائے راز کی اجازت کیو ں دی اور حکومت کی ہزیمت کا باعث کیو ں بنے؟ اُنھوں نے پانی اور بجلی کی وزارت لینے سے انکار کرتے ہوئے صدر اور وزیرِ اعظم کو عوامی طور پر شرمندہ کیوں کیا؟ اُنھوں نے ایک رپورٹر کو انٹر ویو کے دوران دفتر ِ خارجہ کے نکتہ نظر کو کیوں بیان کیا جبکہ یہ بیان عدالت کے میں دیا جانا تھا۔ اب اس امر میں کوئی شبہ نہیں رہاکہ مسٹر قریشی بیک وقت دوہرا کرادر ادا کر رہے تھے۔ وہ حکومت کے نمائندے بھی تھے اور جی ایچ کیو کے بھی ، جو نہیں چاہتا کہ حکومت امریکیوں کے سامنے گھٹنے ٹیک دے ۔۔۔عوام امریکہ سے نفرت کرتے ہیں اور جی ایچ کیو گفت و شنید کے لیے ذرا سخت شرائط کا خواہاں ہے کیونکہ یہ امریکہ سے ممبئی حملوں کے متعلق ڈی جی آئی ایس آئی پر امریکی عدالت میں کیس پر سخت نالاں ہے۔ مسٹر قریشی کو اب پی پی پی کے چھوٹے بڑے حلقوں میں سخت مخالفت کا سامنا کرنا پڑے گا اور اُسے ایک اور بے وفا، بلکہ سازشی اور فاروق لغاری جیسا باغی قرار دیا جائے گا۔ سینیٹر جان کیری اس مسلےٴ کا کوئی حل تلاش کرنے پاکستان آیا۔ لیکن اب معاملہ محض گفت و شنید تک محدود نہیں رہ گیا ہے، نہ ہی اس کو سلجھانا کوئی بچوں کا کھیل ہے۔ پی پی پی کی معاملات پر کوئی گرفت نہیں ہے اور مسلم لیگ نواز کو امریکی دباؤ کی کوئی پروا نہیں ہے۔ حتیٰ کہ بہترین ممکنہ حل ۔۔۔ ذاتی تحفظ کو دلیل بنا کر ڈیوس کو دیت یا زرِتلافی ادا کرکے رہا کیا جاسکتا ہے۔۔۔ بھی ہنوز کوسوں دور ہے۔


  3. Is This Apartheid in Bahrain?


    A few scattered thoughts about Bahrain, on a day on which huge protests are unfolding.

    Members of the ruling family, the Khalifas, are rightly proud of what they’ve built here. Bahrain is modern, moderate and well-educated, and by Gulf standards it has more of the forms of democracy than some others. But here’s my question to King Hamad: Why is it any more appropriate for a minority Sunni population to rule over majority Shia than it was in South Africa for a minority white population to rule over a majority black population? What exactly is the difference?

    Indeed, the language of the ruling party sounds a lot to me like the language of white South Africans — or even like the language of white southerners in Jim Crow America, or the language of militant Israeli settlers in the West Bank. There’s a fear of the rabble, a distrust of full democracy, a sense of entitlement. Apartheid isn’t exactly the right metaphor, because there isn’t formal separation (although neighborhoods are often either Sunni or Shia), and people routinely have very close friends of the other sect. But how can a system when 70 percent of the population is not eligible for the army be considered fair? How can a system in which the leading cabinet positions are filled by one family be considered fair?

    The government talks about “unity” and complains that the opposition is encouraging sectarianism. Please! An American friend was on the roundabout Thursday morning when police attacked. They caught him but when they saw he was American they were friendly and said they were hunting Shia only. My friend said the experience left him feeling icy, as if they were hunting rats. And several people I talked to who were there said that the police used anti-Shia epithets and curses as they were beating prisoners. If the government wants to ease sectarianism, it might start by bringing Shia into the police and armed forces and fire anybody caught making derogatory comments about Shiites.

    The two sides are very, very far apart right now, and it’s hard to imagine them hammering out a compromise that both can agree on. The opposition would accept King Hamad continuing as king – perhaps more like a Moroccan or Jordanian king than a British one, but still much less powerful than today – but the Khalifa family would have to give up the way it dominates Bahrain. Right now, government is pretty much a family affair, and that would have to end. I worry that the result will be more strikes and protests and a stalemate, and then harder-line elements in the family will again use force. The big worry in the roundabout isn’t so much that the army goes in again, but that the government sends in thugs (perhaps Wahabis from Saudi Arabia, by opening the causeway to them) to provoke fighting and intimidate the protesters. That’s similar to what I saw Mubarak do in Cairo, and it was terrifying.

    Two things bother me about the protests. One is that the participants are overwhelmingly Shia. I’ve met a few Sunni on the roundabout, but very, very few – and that makes it less authentic and broad-based an opposition movement than it should be. There are lots of disgruntled Sunni, but they don’t go out on the streets, either because they don’t feel comfortable in a Shia-dominated movement or because their families work in the army or police (as many poor Sunnis do) and would get in severe trouble for doing so. Nonetheless, the protest organizers could try harder to reach out to the Sunni community, and a first step would be to stop the “Death to al-Khalifa” chants and similar slogans. The other day I saw a sign reading “Imagine Bahrain without the al-Khalifas.” That kind of thing is utterly inappropriate. The opposition has to do what Nelson Mandela did so brilliantly in South Africa – make clear that majority rule will not lead to persecution of the minority. Every time the democracy movement scrawls “Death to Al-Khalifa” on a sign, it erodes its own legitimacy before the world.

    So what do you think? I’m a newcomer to Bahrain (this is only my second visit), so tell me what I got wrong, what I misunderstand and what’s going to happen. How is this going to end?