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PORTSIDE  August 2012, Week 1

PORTSIDE August 2012, Week 1

Subject:

Review: Bahrain, Shouting in the Dark

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

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Date:

Sat, 4 Aug 2012 15:00:28 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (117 lines)

Review: Bahrain, Shouting in the Dark

By Nama Khalil
Foreign Policy in Focus
July 24, 2012

http://www.fpif.org/articles/review_bahrain_shouting_in_the_dark

Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaTKDMYOBOU

During the democratic uprisings that began in the
Arab world in 2011, the entire world has focused on
Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and now Syria. On February
16, Bahrainis participated in what the Qatar-based
television station Al Jazeera has called a "secret
revolution," one that was "abandoned by Arabs,
forsaken by West and forgotten by the world." With
no international reporters in Bahrain to capture the
uprising, Al Jazeera documented, in trembling
closeness, the courage demonstrated by the
Bahraini protesters, and then the horrors and
bloodshed that ensued once the ruler's forces
commenced their attack.

This timely and inspiring footage, which ultimately
tells a disheartening story, can now be seen in the
new documentary Bahrain: Shouting in the
Dark.The film documents how Bahrainis maintained
their dignity through years of absolutism and then,
inspired by events taking place elsewhere in the
Arab world, gathered around the Pearl Roundabout
in the capital city of Manama to demand freedom
from a corrupt regime. It started with the familiar
chant "the people want the fall of the regime" but
ended when the regime crushed the protests at the
Pearl Roundabout.

Bahrain is a small island situated near the western
shores of the Persian Gulf. Since the 18th century,
the Khalifa family has ruled the country. The
current head of the family is Hamad bin Isa Al
Khalifa, who became the emir of Bahrain in 1999
and proclaimed himself King of Bahrain in 2002.
The documentary reveals that the ruling family
acquired $40 billion in public land for
themselves-approximately 10 percent of the
country. The Al Khalifa family professes Sunni Islam
and rules a majority Shia population. The Bahraini
uprising has often been portrayed as a sectarian
struggle between Sunni and Shia. However,
Shouting in the Dark provides an alternative
narrative that demonstrates the unity among
Bahrain's citizens and the political, rather than
religious, nature of their demands. The
demonstrators simply wanted their "minimum basic
rights" as human beings.

Shouting in the Dark narrates how Western rulers
chose to ignore Bahrain because the Bahraini ruling
familyis an important strategic ally in the Middle
East. The U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet is based in
Bahrain, and the island state is located near Saudi
Arabia's oil fields.  Furthermore, the Gulf
Cooperation Council-the political and economic
union of the Arab states bordering the Persian
Gulf-pledged to support the Khalifa ruling family.
Saudi Arabia sent tanks to Bahrain to surround the
Pearl Roundabout and restore order in the country.

In the aftermath of the protests, the Bahraini
government severely cracked down on the activists.
State television launched a campaign that divided
the people and ignited sectarian tension. The
government accused the protestors of being traitors
and blamed Iran for the violence that ensued in the
roundabout. The Bahraini authorities arrested
prominent Bahrainis like A'ala Hubail and his
brother Mohamed Hubail, both members of the
national soccer team, in connection with their
participation in the 2011 protests, humiliated them
on television, and then imprisoned and tortured
them. Ayat al Qurmezi, a veiled young female, was
arrested for reciting a poem that criticized the royal
family. Human rights lawyer Mohammed Al Tajer
and opposition politician Matar Matar were also
arrested and are currently on trial. Security forces
gunned down several peaceful Bahraini protestors
in the streets and in their homes. Police detained
many dissidents at police checkpoints, then later
dumped their bodies on the road, marked with
unmistakable evidence of torture.

Shouting in the Dark is a painful, mesmerizing, and
tragic documentary. Finally, with all this Al Jazeera
footage in one place, it is possible to view the one
Arab uprising that has largely been hidden from
view.

___________________________________________

Portside aims to provide material of interest to people
on the left that will help them to interpret the world
and to change it.

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