Sunday, April 24, 2011

Name, Age, and Political Loyalty Please

About two weeks ago, one of the sons of the Bahraini king and head of the country's Olympic Committee, Nasr bin Hamad, called in live to one of the political witch-hunt programs on Bahrain TV to share this uplifting sentiment:

"Bahrain is an island with no escape passage; everybody who interfered in these issues will be punished and everybody who took a stand [supporting the regime] will be awarded. The people who stood with or against the king are well-known to us."

Now, one gathers that he was speaking specifically of those under his sphere of influence--members of sports clubs and other athletes who took part in protests--who since have been duly targeted for punishment. Apparently not satisfied by this more limited scope, however, Nasr bin Hamad is now the royal patron of a nation-wide "allegiance pledge" initiative which purports to have gathered "over 500,000 signatures" of loyalty.

These few paragraphs from the Bahrain News Agency say it all:
It was a simple message a group of Bahrainis wanted to send across to the masses--"reflect their loyalty to the leadership."

In what started last week as signing an allegiance pledge and Loyalty swords campaign is now turned into a movement of masses from all spectrums, turning up in numbers signing their initials supporting the wise leadership.

Books were opened at the National Stadium in Isa Town for citizens to show allegiance to the Kingdom and its leaders.
If "[t]he people who stood with or against the king," were already "well-known" to the Bahraini authorities more than two weeks ago, then, the present campaign must aim to verify their political account books.

More than just athletes, bloggers, doctors, political activists, lawyers, and businessmen, however, it seems that a large number of Shi'i mosques and ma'tams must likewise have stood "against the king," for some 30 have been summarily demolished in recent weeks under the pretext that they were "not registered." Funny that building registrations have suddenly jumped to the top of the list of Bahraini national priorities.

This interactive Google Map of Bahrain shows the locations of each of the destroyed buildings along with before-and-after photos and in some cases links to the government Waqf (religious endowments) Department's own records that seem to suggest that they were in fact registered after all. Imagine that. But I'm sure the government will be happy to rebuild them if it finds that it was in error.

In a related news, Bahrain's prime minister took the lead from Nasr bin Hamad to call into the "Good Morning Bahrain" radio program Friday to pay tribute "to loyal Bahrain people for standing united as a bulwark defending their country against subversive conspiracies." This comes a week after he presided over a "day of reckoning" at Gudaibiyyah Palace for Bahraini businessmen "who sat on the fence and kept silent while the country was confronting a coup attempt."

To sum up, then:

"Hounourable mobilisation against wicked plots to damage people's achievements and resources": Good.

Sitting on the fence while the country is "on the brink of slipping into the sectarian cauldron": Bad.

Who says Bahraini politics are complicated?

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