The Minister of Interior has the unenviable task of heading the security force in Bahrain. The so called “revolution” has thrown the Minister into the limelight and every minute detail of the ministry’s activities have been exposed, some rightly so, but majority of the information being manipulated to feed the insatiable appetite of the international media’s lust for theatrics.
H.E Lt. Col Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa was appointed as Minister of Interior in 2004. Prior to this appointment, he was in charge of the BDF and the Special Forces for many years. Upon his appointment, the Minister upgraded the technology and restructured departments and procedures. With all the challenges the country has faced since 2011, he has dealt with the events in a calm, humane and compassionate manner, despite being in the line of fire at the mercy of the world’s critical arena.
The Head Quarters of the Ministry of Interior is in the heart of Manama: called the Police Fort, it is in close vicinity of the Sacred Heart Church, American Mission Hospital, Salmaniya Hospital, and just metres from a Shia’a mosque. Guarded and active 24hours a day, this building has come under incessant attack for over 20 months. Almost every night, to date, the opposition announces via social media that they are lobbing molotovs at the guards outside.
In England, it is virtually unheard of to attack a governmental building on a daily basis (in particular anything related to security) without facing some severe legal proceedings against the offenders. Attack a police station or a policeman in London and the strong arm of the law will penalize you, and the smiling Bobbies will smile at you no more.
In September this year following the murder of two unarmed policewomen in Hattersley, UK, the police immediately blocked the road with an armoured vehicle. There was public outrage with over 1million people sympathizing on their Facebook page and others demanding the death penalty for anyone killing a policeman. This tragedy shook the UK and was taken very seriously by the British government. That being the same government that believes attacking (and in some cases killing) unarmed Bahraini police with molotovs, iron rods and rocks on a regular basis is “freedom of expression”.
The opposition threatens the life of the Minister and the police through social media on a regular basis – but so far we have no law in Bahrain to arrest and convict these offenders. When will new laws be passed to redefine the legal system so that it is line with new methods of mass communication?
In the UK, on November 15th 2012 AP reported: “One teenager made offensive comments about a murdered child on Twitter. Another young man wrote on Facebook that British soldiers should “go to hell.” A third posted a picture of a burning paper poppy, symbol of remembrance of war dead”.
All were arrested, two convicted, and one jailed — and they’re not the only ones. In Britain, hundreds of people are prosecuted each year for posts, tweets, texts and emails deemed menacing, indecent, offensive or obscene, and the number is growing as our online lives expand.
In November, British police also arrested a man over an alleged cyber attack on the websites of Home Secretary Theresa May and her interior ministry. The man was arrested on suspicion of encouraging a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. Apparently this man had encouraged other web users to bombard the websites with requests causing them to crash. The man currently on bail was arrested for breaking the Serious Crime Act 2007. Perhaps it is time to look closely at local IT providers who have the expertise and the technology to achieve similar results in Bahrain.
A few minutes on social media will highlight the efficiency and creativity of the opposition. Some one could sneeze in Sitra and the world would hear that there is an outbreak of swine flu, which has been deliberately spread by the government, and the police were spreading the deadly virus through tear gas. The international media would immediately conduct live interviews with members of the opposition to share how much they suffer and show dilapidated houses but ignore crates of molotovs, posters of Nasrallah, the brand new 4×4 SUVs, video equipment, computers and all evidence of their underground work. This is the Al Wefaq party in Bahrain that we are dealing with, supported by an outside entity that is so extreme and cruel that most of the members prefer to live here.
Many in our community including expatriates sit in silence, not willing to support the government but openly sympathise with the thugs who live in “appalling condition and have no jobs”. Well I ask these people who hold positions where they may recruit locally, would they recruit a young man who has nothing on his CV except the fact he can accurately lob a molotov at cops with fatal results, is able to make a scarf into a balaclava in less than 5 seconds and is strong enough to haul up to four tyres to burn and block a road and fit enough to run away? Ask these thugs how they are able to afford new cars, the latest computer gadgets, software and camera equipment. Quite interestingly, these yobos who cruise our streets, hold us hostage on the roads and in our homes are still able to acquire western sympathy. The international media thrives on sensationalism and distortion to continue to condemn a police force that is essentially supporting, securing and living amongst the peaceful majority.
Every night, young opposition followers attack the police. These delinquents attack with molotovs, iron rods propelled through extinguishers and bombs. They use social media to share their “achievements” in Arabic and the pitiful stories in English to hypocritical international media and human rights activists, who watch and applaud.
Let’s not forget that after two days of violence in the UK, Cameron gave a press interview where he stated “picture by picture, these criminals are being identified and arrested and we will not allow any phony concerns about human rights get in the way of the publication of these pictures and the arrests of these individuals”. He went on to say, “this continued violence is simply not acceptable and it will be stopped. We will not put up with this in our country. We will not allow a culture of fear to exist on our streets”. During the same interview Cameron added “we will take every action necessary to bring order back onto our street”.
The Bahrain Police Force is sent every minute of their duty into newly created ghettos and traps not to attack but to disarm and allow a safe passage for the majority who just want to live their lives. It is time for us to stand up and salute these courageous men and women and show that we value the dangerous work they do. It is time for us to stand up to violence and to work towards having the young Molotov throwers who are getting, faster and more violent taken off the streets and somehow brought back inline.
This is a monumental task and we may have a long way to go. But I, for one have every faith in the system – the bureaucracy that we have all faced at one time or another is based on individuals and is certainly not systematic.
Policemen and women should be mentors for future generations and not made a mockery of, by violators of the law. The Police Force has maintained Bahrain’s security and prevented us from spiraling into unsalvageable anarchy. The Minister of Interior has shown restraint, strength and transparency where many in his place would have simply quashed the opposition violence in a barbaric manner – just read the paper.