Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Clash of Civilizations in Muharraq

Some Sunnis, at least, seem not to be listening to Faysal al-Shaykh.

On Monday, residents of Muharraq led by Muhammad Khalid and some local MPs ran Minister of Culture Shaikha Mae out of a "Spring of Culture" event organized by the state, which they said promoted sexual depravity and other un-Islamic values. Angry protesters held signs criticizing her for her "vice and corruption," saying, "Your culture is not the culture of the people of Muharraq." (A million other photos are here.)

The gathering also gave Muhammad Khalid a chance to go after the king once again:

When Sha. Mae eventually went to exit, she was serenaded by people chanting "the people want the fall of the minister":

Then, on Tuesday, Sha. Mae appeared in parliament accusing Muharraq MPs of "trying to undermine Bahrain's tourism industry" through their opposition to the annual event. As the GDN reports,
Culture Minister Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa hit back after Islamist MPs accused artists taking part in the country's biggest cultural festival of being sexually provocative.

The MPs yesterday showed images of some Spring of Culture performances during their weekly session, claiming they promoted homosexuality.

However, Shaikha Mai responded by accusing MPs of taking the country backwards.

"It is people like you who are taking us backwards and those pictures are of an event six years ago, which we dealt with and that chapter has been closed," she said during the session.

Parliament was then suspended after one MP hurled insults at the minister, while others demanded her resignation.

On her way out she said she expected nothing less from Bahrain's MPs, since they were simply not "man enough".
"Not man enough!" Booya!

This insult, the Gulf News reports, "prompted the lawmakers to claim that they would not convene until Shaikha Mai is removed from the government."

As I've said a few times now, it's amazing how the parliament is not so reliably pro-government once Sunni societies are not entirely engrossed with stopping al-Wifaq from accomplishing anything. Ironically, the state could really use a few more al-Wifaq MPs; its "opposition-less" parliament isn't working out so well.

Update: On the other side of the spectrum, there is increased worry about the failing health of 'Abd al-Hadi al-Khawajah, now on day 50-something of a hunger strike. On Monday, a court denied a request to release him and the other 13 imprisoned opposition leaders pending their upcoming appeal.

Update 2: Two highly-recommendable new articles on Bahrain appeared last night.

The first is by Laurence LouĂ«r (a collaborator on the Gulf sectarianism project with which I am currently occupied) for Carnegie's Sada blog: "Houses Divided: the Splintering of Bahrain’s Political Camps."

A second is by Reuters reporter Andrew Hammond: "Sunnis seek own voice in Bahrain's turmoil."

Update 3: If 'Abd al-Hadi al-Khawajah dies in prison, part of the reason will be the same cause that afflicts Bahrain more generally: intra-Al Khalifa disputes. The BBC reports that,
The government is badly split on what to do, sources in Bahrain have told the BBC's Bill Law. They say the Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad al-Khalifa, is keen to see a resolution.

However, Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa insists he should not be released, the sources told our correspondent.

I'm sure the latter fact has nothing to do with al-Khawajah's public attack against the prime minister that landed him in prison in 2004.


  1. A policeman was holding speaker for Mohammad Khalid in the video, so I guess that the Ministry of Interior allowed the gathering of anti-Mai guys at the place of the cultural Event!!

    I think that the government may change the minister of culture with someone else to show the World how democratic it is, and continue to crush the real opposition at the same time. If Mai, the Minister of culture was changed, I doubt that the new Minister would be any better than her.

  2. On a brighter and much more relevant note, LMFAO will be performing at the opening of the Formula 1!!! Long live King Hamad and Death to the agents of Persia and their village slaves!!

    1. Come on now you're not even trying! You're no fun :(

    2. Dont get too excited about that. Seems like they'll be in South America :)

  3. @sal It's ironic that you say that, when the position of king is a "symbol of national unity", according to the constitution.


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