In Lincoln, England for a few weeks working and some three weeks down the road from my latest Bahrain/Saudi stint. Catching up with the news in this island Kingdom on that particular island Kingdom is a bit like catching up with the news when you are there. only a couple of days ago we could read:
“Bahraini police fired tear gas and birdshot at demonstrators today, witnesses said, as protests called by activists to press demands for democratic change in the US-allied Gulf kingdom turned violent.”
However, couldn’t this type of information be accessed while I was there, facilitated by the VPN on the laptop, and through ‘RT News’? Indeed it could, but away from the maddening crowd there was the Costa Coffee, Irish Pub, normality, the getting home tired and slumping in front of some movie channel before going off to bed, and the walking around in circles on the part of the map which the US embassy does not colour red. But, what is this; I see that that a little sliver of red has encroached into Juffair home of the US fifth fleet.
Of course, with torture and repression on the regime’s agenda, with police brutality the norm rather than the exception, with a ridiculous situation where it is actually a crime to criticize the King and where “It is also illegal to “incite hatred” against the security forces (whatever that means)”, ego might ask himself how it was actually possible that he could live a Lincoln sort of life in Manama? Alright the sliver of red didn’t actually get to Adliya, but that view from the room, shouldn’t that have told him something?
Well, burning tires make a lot of smoke, like the bombs that dropped into South Beruit during my 2006 Lebanon stint. However, burning tires is not the same as dropping bombs, is it? And anyway, if I remember correctly Starbucks having to close in Hamra when the Israelis attacked was the first thing that pissed me off. Yes, we do tend to close our eyes until that little sliver of red gets bigger and bigger and really encroaches into our little world.
That is why, while people are being killed and tortured in Bahrain, while they are being deprived of their citizenship for criticizing the King, and while they are being deprived of their basic human rights, ego’s only real observation away from the flat white at Costa Coffee and the glitzy shopping malls was of three hardly handsome males peering at all and sundry from here, there and everywhere, but then that alone should be enough to facilitate a better understanding of what Bahrain is and why people will continue to demonstrate despite the repression and despite the obvious indifference of the West and maybe, just maybe, the conclusion that the smoke in the distance is sufficient indication that something is seriously wrong in a part of the world which does seem much sadder than it was when I was first there in 2004.