September 16th, 2011
11:31 AM ET

Bahrain responds

Editor's Note: On September 13, 2011, guest commentator Rabah Ghezali wrote a piece entitled Bahrain at the heart of Middle East tensions on the Global Public Square. A Bahraini government spokesperson, Luma E. Bashmi, who works for the Department of International Media Affairs in the Information Affairs Authority of Bahrain, wrote the following letter in response. 

Dear Mr. Ghezali:

We thank you for your very thoughtful article on the Kingdom of Bahrain and the challenges we are facing in light of the overall events of the so-called "Arab Spring". We especially appreciate that you noted the history that has contributed to the perception of events here since February 14th, vis-à-vis our past relations with Iran and concern about any outside interference in Bahrain's political affairs. Our main goal is stability both in Bahrain and throughout the Gulf region, so that we can move forward with the reforms that we began a decade ago.

I would just like to point out a few things that I think should be clarified in your article. While it is true that initial protests were peaceful in nature, a small contingent of extremists escalated the nature of demonstrations in the month between February 14th and the arrival of GCC Peninsula Shield in mid-March. Unfortunately, a number of increasingly violent clashes that took place between protestors and security forces - as well as between groups of citizens - that resulted in chaos and economic instability throughout Bahrain. It is in this context that the entrance of GCC forces into Bahrain must be understood, to help restore security by occupying key strategic installations.

It is also important to note that very early on after the onset of protests the government initiated a sincere call for dialogue, both by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa and His Royal Highness Sheikh Salman bin Hamad, the Crown Prince. Unfortunately, these honest attempts to move the demands for reform out of the streets and into discussion were rejected by key members of the political opposition – even after the government met requests for pre-conditions to dialogue. Even though some citizens rejected the opportunity to engage in the dialogue aimed at resolving the crises, the process did go forward with more than 300 citizens representing all segments of society participating. The outcomes of that National Dialogue are well on their way to being implemented into legislation.

There is also a critical error in your article that needs to be corrected and that is regarding the unemployment rates. On February 21 (2011), Bloomberg reported that unemployment in Bahrain stood at 3.6%, one of the lowest in the region and much lower than in many nations across the globe. Unemployment remains at 3.7% to date, even in light of the economic impact of the political unrest. Bahrain has a number of state-sponsored training programs, as well as scholarship and financial aid programs for higher education, that are geared towards enabling full employment for all those who seek it.

Thank you again for your thoughtful report on the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Sincerely,

Luma E. Bashmi

The views expressed in the letter are solely those of Luma E. Bashmi.

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Topics: Middle East

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Onesmallvoice

    One would from this Luma E. Bashmi anyway? This broad is being paid to say what she did. More right-wing propaganda to make that cursed king over there look good and I find that quite sickening!!!

    September 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      Should I doubt the BBC, if it reported that Bahraini doctors were accused of aiding protesters during the anti-government protests in March this year. There were also claims about them being physically harmed while at custody.

      September 16, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Reply
  2. 100% ETHIO STRONGER!

    Anyone can write.

    September 16, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Reply
  3. R.Mohammed

    Dear Mr Ghezali, 

    I have been watching the international media coverage of the situation in Bahrain with dismay, disappointment and disgust.
    Why is the reality and truth being denied?
    And why is the constant coverage of Bahrain in the "arab spring" of such importance to you?
    Why is Iran, Ahwaz and Syria taking a back seat?
    You have never spoken to any of the Bahraini's who do NOT support the Illegal rioters.
    In March our streets were packed with thousands of peaceful Bahrainis loyal to the King and the Government who marched through the streets to make it clear to the world we are happy with our leadership.
    It was broadcasted Live on Bahrain TV, yet the international press failed to report.
    You wrote about Bahrain's history, however you failed to cover the dramatic changes in the last 10 years. Look at history, read Bahrain's Consitution, talk to Bahrainis and expats alike who live here in total harmony . I realise telling the truth may not be as sensational or provide such graphic headlines, but the media's handling of this is unfair and will only serve to jeopardise all the progress Bahrain has made since our King voluntarily brought about democratic and social reforms ten years ago.
    His Majesty had a clear vision for his country. Other Arab leaders who questioned his wisdom at that time now find themselves wishing they had emulated him. Bahrain is not Libya, Yemen, Tunisia, Syria or Egypt.

    We live in the most free, open, liberal country in the Middle East, we have free education, and healthcare for all, women have equal rights under the law and there are jobs for everyone who REALLY wants to work. There are free Training Programmes, free business set up and development advice and grants, and press freedom that you will not witness elsewhere.

    So we ask our selves, what were the initial demands and where are we today?
    The Initial demands were housing and jobs.
    Jobs there are plenty of, but the question here, do they really want to work?

    Housing is provided, however it can't be provided to everyone over night.
    The rioters have lots of rights under our laws, they held senior positions in lots of government posts, they held 18 out of 40 seats in parliament and much more.
    The MP's who resigned from parliament were not interested to demand peacefully about issues, but decided to take the demands to the streets.
    As for those who listened to the MP's that resigned, drive through any of the shia villages either today or over the last four decades and you will find pictures not of Bahrain's leaders but of political and religious leaders of another country in this region. What does that tell you?

    Despite all of this blatant disloyalty to Bahrain, (some would call it treason) our government continues to do everything it can to meet their demands .

    Bahrain is a shining beacon to the world that multiculturalism can and does work.

    It has worked here for decades.
    And God willing will continue to work for the decades to come.
    In Bahrain muslims, jews, hindus, christians, buddhists all enjoy religious freedom and we all live in harmony. Why?
    Because in Bahrain we recognise that abiding by the law and showing mutual respect for your fellow citizen comes before anything else. We are all "Bahrainis" before we are muslims, jews, hindus, christians, or buddhists and that is why multiculturalism works here in Bahrain.
    Of course multiculturalism can only work where citizens respect the laws of Bahrain and love the country in which they reside.
    Where is the press coverage on the way we live in harmony.
    Another point,
    Why did all the international Reporters in Bahrain show only coverage of the injured rioters in hospital? Why not also the injured police?
    Where was the coverage of the gruesome murders of the policemen.

    Where is the explanation as to the reasons why the Government resorted to seek assistance from the GCC. The economy was at a halt. The roads were blocked, rocks were hurled at commuters, locals and expats were attacked and killed, the education system came to a halt, and recently schools damaged. The last resort the Government has is to secure the nation.

    Look at the recent unrest in the UK and look at the ways the Government handled it.

    No one is more heartbroken than our King, that violence has been involved and that blood has been shed on the streets of our beloved Kingdom.

    His Majesty has been incredibly patient, we have been patient, some would say too patient, he has freed political prisoners and convicted criminals many times over in the hope that his forgiveness and generosity of spirit would serve as an example and would allow these people another chance to live a fruitful life and offer them the opportunity to tread the path of their fellow Bahrainis, showing loyalty and respect to their King and country.

    These rioters have every right under our laws to air their grievances and pursue their demands by legal, peaceful means, however when it comes to a point where it is no longer peaceful and in fringes the rights of the rest of society, this is illegal and the government for the sake of the rest of society like any other country in the world, must act.

    Finally, to the instigators of this turmoil.
    Note, the same names for decades.
    The same names loyal not to Bahrain but loyal to the pictures of foreign leaders that line their walls.
    They have failed to achieve the destruction of our country.
    They will continue to fail, because the people of Bahrain, the real people who love Bahrain will continue to stand behind their Leadership.

    September 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Reply
  4. R.Mohammed

    Dear Mr Ghezali 

    I have been watching the international media coverage of the situation in Bahrain with dismay, disappointment and disgust.
    Why is the reality and truth being denied?
    And why is the constant coverage of Bahrain in the "arab spring" of such importance to you?
    Why is Iran, Ahwaz and Syria taking a back seat?
    You have never spoken to any of the Bahraini's who do NOT support the Illegal rioters.
    In March our streets were packed with thousands of peaceful Bahrainis loyal to the King and the Government who marched through the streets to make it clear to the world we are happy with our leadership.
    It was broadcasted Live on Bahrain TV, yet the international press failed to report.
    You wrote about Bahrain's history, however you failed to cover the dramatic changes in the last 10 years. Look at history, read Bahrain's Consitution, talk to Bahrainis and expats alike who live here in total harmony . I realise telling the truth may not be as sensational or provide such graphic headlines, but the media's handling of this is unfair and will only serve to jeopardise all the progress Bahrain has made since our King voluntarily brought about democratic and social reforms ten years ago.
    His Majesty had a clear vision for his country. Other Arab leaders who questioned his wisdom at that time now find themselves wishing they had emulated him. Bahrain is not Libya, Yemen, Tunisia, Syria or Egypt.

    We live in the most free, open, liberal country in the Middle East, we have free education, and healthcare for all, women have equal rights under the law and there are jobs for everyone who REALLY wants to work. There are free Training Programmes, free business set up and development advice and grants, and press freedom that you will not witness elsewhere.

    So we ask our selves, what were the initial demands and where are we today?
    The Initial demands were housing and jobs.
    Jobs there are plenty of, but the question here, do they really want to work?

    Housing is provided, however it can't be provided to everyone over night.
    The rioters have lots of rights under our laws, they held senior positions in lots of government posts, they held 18 out of 40 seats in parliament and much more.
    The MP's who resigned from parliament were not interested to demand peacefully about issues, but decided to take the demands to the streets.
    As for those who listened to the MP's that resigned, drive through any of the shia villages either today or over the last four decades and you will find pictures not of Bahrain's leaders but of political and religious leaders of another country in this region. What does that tell you?

    Despite all of this blatant disloyalty to Bahrain, (some would call it treason) our government continues to do everything it can to meet their demands .

    Bahrain is a shining beacon to the world that multiculturalism can and does work.

    It has worked here for decades.
    And God willing will continue to work for the decades to come.
    In Bahrain muslims, jews, hindus, christians, buddhists all enjoy religious freedom and we all live in harmony. Why?
    Because in Bahrain we recognise that abiding by the law and showing mutual respect for your fellow citizen comes before anything else. We are all "Bahrainis" before we are muslims, jews, hindus, christians, or buddhists and that is why multiculturalism works here in Bahrain.
    Of course multiculturalism can only work where citizens respect the laws of Bahrain and love the country in which they reside.
    Where is the press coverage on the way we live in harmony.
    Another point,
    Why did all the international Reporters in Bahrain show only coverage of the injured rioters in hospital? Why not also the injured police?
    Where was the coverage of the gruesome murders of the policemen.

    Where is the explanation as to the reasons why the Government resorted to seek assistance from the GCC. The economy was at a halt. The roads were blocked, rocks were hurled at commuters, locals and expats were attacked and killed, the education system came to a halt, and recently schools damaged. The last resort the Government has is to secure the nation.

    Look at the recent unrest in the UK and look at the ways the Government handled it.

    No one is more heartbroken than our King, that violence has been involved and that blood has been shed on the streets of our beloved Kingdom.

    His Majesty has been incredibly patient, we have been patient, some would say too patient, he has freed political prisoners and convicted criminals many times over in the hope that his forgiveness and generosity of spirit would serve as an example and would allow these people another chance to live a fruitful life and offer them the opportunity to tread the path of their fellow Bahrainis, showing loyalty and respect to their King and country.

    These rioters have every right under our laws to air their grievances and pursue their demands by legal, peaceful means, however when it comes to a point where it is no longer peaceful and in fringes the rights of the rest of society, this is illegal and the government for the sake of the rest of society like any other country in the world, must act.

    Finally, to the instigators of this turmoil.
    Note, the same names for decades.
    The same names loyal not to Bahrain but loyal to the pictures of foreign leaders that line their walls.
    They have failed to achieve the destruction of our country.
    They will continue to fail, because the people of Bahrain, the real people who love Bahrain will continue to stand behind their Leadership.

    September 16, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Reply
  5. Rajab Jawad

    40 Martyr
    more than 2000 were taken in custody
    more 4000 has been dismissed
    and could be more.
    attack has reached every sector in the society, doctors, teachers, students, athletics, journalist, lawyers, workers, kids, adults, male and femal
    all this and still talking about hands fall of people.

    Bahraini citizens around 525 thousands.. take a calculator and calculate?!!!

    September 19, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Reply

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