Last month the Kingdom of Bahrain opened its doors to the Members of the European Parliament (MEP). This is not a process that the country is obliged to follow nor does the leadership have to “give face” to people who may not even have heard of this country until a couple of years ago. Some of the MEPs came with an open and fair mind but it is clear that some did not. Some of the MEPs had an objective; to belittle the efforts of the government and authorities throughout the entire visit and harp on about the grievances of jailed terrorists, criminals and opposition radicals within the community.
As a British expatriate living in Bahrain, I find it offensive when officials from the UK treat people in the Arab world as if they are uneducated and ignorant. As invited guests the British have a lot to learn from Arabs about gracious manners. The “learned” MEPs highlighted their ignorance of Al Wefaq planning against Bahrain or they simply chose to ignore facts. The people in Bahrain have been through enough hardships and challenges over the last two years without these foreign politicians being disrespectful with preconceived notions of how we live. They have been insolent to both our people and our leadership.
What do they really understand about the culture, religion and the radical movement that resulted in a failed coup? Are these MEPs aware of the depth or the dark hate and manipulation of Western media and opposition groups? Do we wish to see this country dissolve into anarchy like some others in the region that were “freed” by the West? I believe I speak for the vast majority in the country when I say NO!
For decades shia’a families have sent their children to shia’a religious schools. One of them is in Najaf City in Iraq which incidentally is the hometown of the infamous radical Sistani.
The Dawa party was established in 1957 in Iraq to protect the shia’a identity from the spread of communism, socialism and nationalism. This party gained a strong following during the 1970s Iranian Welayat Faqih Revolution which we all know was supported by the USA and the West.
The Welayat Faqih principal is a strict hierarchy that has to be obeyed. Followers believe that there are 12 Imams who are the rulers of the world. Their teachings say that eleven are dead and the twelfth is Mahdi who has not revealed himself as yet. The belief is that Khomeni will rule on behalf of the Mahdi until that time. During that period, three prominent students, namely Sulaiman AlMadani, AbdulAmeer Al Jamri and Isa Qasim brought the ideology of Dawa Party to Bahrain after they came back from their studies in Iraq and formed the Islamic Awakening Society in 1972 in the hometown of Isa Qassim, Diraz.
However a dispute arose within the Islamic Awakening Party between Khomeni followers and Khomenei non-followers. Many began abandoning the party as they rejected the extremist policies and plans that came under the umbrella of the Welayat Faqih principals. This party was dissolved in 1984 when it was evident that it was loyal to Khomenei in believing that Bahrain was the fourteenth state of Iran and were in the process of implementing plans to overthrow the Bahrain government.
Many of these students did not believe in the Weleyat Faqih principal. Known as Shirazi they formed a party called Wafa led by Abdul Wahab Hussain. Oddly Abdul Hadi Al Khawaja (currently serving a life sentence) is Shirazi but during Muharram he publically asked his followers to attack military bases and continued to work for the downfall of the Bahrain Government and planned the 1989 coup.
In the early 1990s followers of the dissolved Islamic Awakening Party started street violence across the island. One of the well-known leaders of the street violence was Abdul Ameer Jamri with Isa Qassim standing firmly in the shadows. The key figure at this time was Ali Salman who led a vicious attack on a charity marathon race that took local and expatriate runners on a route through the village of Budaiya. One of the runners was seriously injured in the head by a rock thrown by Ali Salman. During this period tens of policemen were brutally murdered and civilians were attacked including expatriate workers; one particularly gruesome incident took place in Sitra when a group of Asian workers were burned to death after being locked and barricaded into their local cafeteria. Following this coup and street violence the opposition perpetrators were sent to exile while many chose to leave the country and return to their homeland in Iran and Iraq. In many western countries this is considered higher treason and would result in the death penalty or at the least life imprisonment.
It seemed that Bahrain was once again peaceful and the situation had been resolved. Life continued and most forgot about the violence that had erupted. Most of us as expatriates were oblivious and did not particularly care about any political undercurrents or repercussions. The country was moving on. Sadly the Emir Shaikh Isa passed away in 1999. People were genuinely touched and saddened by his death – it was the end of an era. Citizens and residents mourned together during this time and felt the loss – many still call him Baba Isa (father Isa) when they talk about him now.
With political eruptions still going on in some parts of Bahrain, King Hamad made plans to put an end to the violence and achieve long-term peace and stability. It was a time when the country was jubilant and entire communities came out to greet and salute the vision of a leader who truly cares for the well being of all who live in Bahrain. As part of the political solution, in 2001, King Hamad started the implementation of reform; all exiled citizens were pardoned and invited back to Bahrain. They were all given houses and jobs and even paid salaries for the duration of their absence. We all felt that the country was moving forward at full speed and the future looked bright.
In 2002 the country was jubilant and looked forward with eagerness and sanguinity when 98.4% of the population voted in favour of the National Charter.
Little did we know that the opposition was increasing its following and planning in the dark; more violence with a bigger rebellion was in the forefront of their minds.
In 2002 the dissolved Islamic Awakening was resurrected as an official opposition party renamed Al Wefaq; led by Ali Salman, they rejected the parliamentary elections.
When Al Wefaq participated in the 2006 elections they won 18 out of the 40 seats. Two members Hasan Mushaima and Abdul Jaleel Singece broke away and unofficially formed the even more radical Haq party, as they did not agree with participating in the elections. Despite being unregistered, they managed to attract thousands of followers which led to more street violence in 2008 resulting in the murder of a policeman and an Asian civilian both of whom were burned alive in their cars.
During the 2010 elections, there was increased instability brewing within the Al Wefaq. Some members did not agree with participation in elections and fearing that they were losing support, their spiritual leader Isa Qassim issued a “faith list”. People were threatened into voting for candidates on this list or they would be going against God. To achieve this goal, coalitions were formed in areas to drop Sunni candidates and promote shia’a representatives from the “faith list”. The plan was effective and Al Wefaq secured the same number of seats in parliament.
Once again, it seemed all was calm on the political front. While we were busy commending ourselves for coming out of the recession safely, the opposition was busy implementing its master plan against Bahrain. We were oblivious and unprepared for what was yet to come.
Then in February 2011 during the protests, the extraordinary happened – Al Wefaq, Al Wafa (formed by members who left Al Wefaq) and Haq joined hands and stood together and called for the downfall of the government. Party leaders stood on stage at the GCC roundabout with the same objective of shia’a empowerment and the removal of the Al Khalifa monarchy. It was clear that the opposition parties had united and wanted non-shia to leave the country when Mushaima announced “Bahrain is a country only for those who believe in Ali’s rule” and later declared Bahrain as an Islamic Republic.
Al Wefaq is the driving force behind the violence. Following the Welayat Faqih principal the spiritual leader (appointed by leaders in Iran) is Isa Qassim who makes all decisions for the party. As the political leader Ali Salman may not contradict any decision or statement made by the spiritual leader.
As a matter of fact Al Wefaq followers believe that going against the religious leader means disobeying God with anarchy being the ultimate solution to all problems. Even a decision made in parliament is up to the whim of Isa Qassim who has so far rejected dialogue with the government and even deprived shia’a women rights in cases of marriage, abuse, child custody, divorce and inheritance by rejecting the family law.
Al Wefaq is generous to its loyal followers. The party compensates people for damaged/destroyed vehicles or property, lost salaries, deaths and even equipment for business purposes. It is unclear where these funds come from; instead of interrogating a government that is tax-free and provides free education, housing, and medical services, perhaps Al Wefaq funding should be investigated by Western officials.
The security personnel work relentlessly to control violent gatherings/rallies and protests that the opposition organizes on a weekly basis if not more. Despite every effort, the protestors who call themselves peaceful, attack unarmed police with molotovs and home made weapons whilst destroying cars, roads, private and public property. These are not protestors, these are terrorists who defy all rules as set-out by law and civil society whilst the west sits in silence and sympathises with them.
Media in all forms including print, TV and social is proof enough that opposition support propaganda machines. Men and women including “human rights activists” across the globe condemn the government and deny any violence has taken place. It is the most exasperating scenario. Police and workers have been murdered in cold blood and yet there is silence from these so called human rights activists.
The opposition even launched a campaign to demand the deportation of all naturalized citizens and to date they use this as justification for attacks on unarmed police and civilians. Strangely many of the opposition hold dual nationalities and they themselves are naturalized including Isa Qassim, Ali Salman, Jalal and Jawad Fairooz along with thousands of others in Bahrain.
The West advocates this form of terrorism with its silence. Saeed Shebahi lives in London in a building owned by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards – he is not employed and his financial support is unclear even though he owns property worth millions of pounds in the UK. Shehabi who left Bahrain in the 1990s with others was in charge of the streets; his core belief is violence yet the British Government hosts him along with others.
Maryam Al Khawaja travels across the globe spreading falsified information dripping with hate and sectarianism but only thunderous silence from the west. Who is her sugar daddy? Her father has shown no income since 1989, yet she travels first class across the globe staying in five star hotels, and manages to attend official meetings with western politicians who most western citizens are unable to catch a glimpse of. If you drive down Budaiya road, majority of the walls are covered in anti-government graffiti but mysteriously Al Wasat newspaper’s (managed by Mansoor Al Jamri) boundary walls are gleaming.
The British and American Ambassadors host events inviting known radical Ali Salman but simple citizens like me are never on any guest list. If you take the time to look at international media, you will notice that there are people around the world who are blatantly prejudiced against Bahrain and our leadership, yet majority have never even visited the country – is this part of the Welayat Faqih master plan?
Let us not underestimate the opposition parties; they are powerful, organized, and financially sound. They have established a strong network to gain international blanket coverage of their twisted propaganda. It is time for the citizens and residents of the Kingdom of Bahrain to understand the deep hatred and the principal the opposition follows.
The West has not taken the time to learn more about Bahrain, our leadership and our people. We should ask ourselves; are they the West Wing of the Welayat Faqih which aims to create the “Greater Bahrain”?