Glory of the nation?
“Even amid the crackdown, officials insist that Bahrain remains a democratic country adhering to, in the words of Abdulla al-Buainain, a judge, the “rule of law.” (E-mails to the government information office and a public relations firm hired by Bahrain went unanswered.) But the frustration of Mr. Alderazi is evident across the kingdom. The most despised government figure for Shiites, Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, the king’s 75-year-old uncle and the world’s longest-serving prime minister with four decades in office, has become the center of an attempt at a personality cult; his portraits adorn intersections. “Glory of the nation,” one describes him……… Most dangerous, though, is the exacerbation of sectarian hatred in a country that has never really reconciled the narratives of the Khalifa family’s long-ago conquest. No one claims that Sunnis and Shiites ever lived in harmony here. But the country stands as a singular example of the way venerable distinctions of ethnicity, sect and history can be manipulated in the Arab world, often cynically, in the pursuit of power. Programs on state-owned television like “The Observer” and “The Last Word” baited activists as traitors and encouraged citizens to inform on one another. ………………”
This over-ripe Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa has created a bipolar society on the island of Bahrain. For many years outsiders, especially Westerners, saw only what they were ‘directed’ to see. Or they saw what they wanted to see. They saw one Bahrain: cosmopolitan, open to foreign business, pro-Western, rulers and their elite retainers speak English, yadda, yadda, yadda….
They did not see “most” of Bahrain. The Apartheid system that kept a majority of the people oppressed. They did not see the kleptocracy that stripped the land the wealth of the small country. They did not see the imported foreign mercenaries from places like Pakistan and Jordan and Syria who helped repress and torture for a fee. Many preferred not to see, especially the British expatriates many of who openly sided with the despots this year, for a price.
I recall some Europeans get nearly teary eyed talking about the last Shaikh of Bahrain (before the son promoted himself to king), how he allowed Westerners free access to the beautiful beach at one of his palaces. Only Westerners, they emphasized: no Asians, no Arabs, no Bahrainis, not even Saudis! I recall that one German, only one European some years ago, who muttered that “you should go outside Manama and see the squalid Shi’a villages”.
Now they have created an Orwellian nation of native informers, just to help the foreign mercenaries keep things under control.