Sunday, 15 January 2017

Bahrainona, Indeed

The three executions in Bahrain are the beginning of the end of the regime there.

I have been relatively soft on it, because, although very bad, it has not been as bad as some of the others, above all in Saudi Arabia.

But it is now.

Why should it care what I think? Of course, it shouldn’t.

I am not, however, alone in having come to this conclusion.

The concern now is to preserve the best of Bahrain into the new order there, which must now be inaugurated as a matter of the utmost urgency.

As it is, but as it would not be if the regime remained or if the wrong opponents replaced it, Bahrain is pluralist, with at least eight indigenous ethnic groups.

Those include a small but very ancient and entrenched Jewish community, which maintains the Gulf’s only synagogue and Jewish cemetery.

And also a community of black African descent, part of the East African diaspora in the East hardly known about by those very used to the West African diaspora in the West. 

Around one fifth of the inhabitants of Bahrain is non-Muslim, and around half of that is Christian.

The women’s headscarf is strictly optional. Or, at least, it is for the time being.

No one disputes that Bahraini Muslims are two-thirds Shi’ite. Correspondingly, no one disputes that Bahraini Muslims are one-third Sunni. 

The Shi’ites in Bahrain have hitherto been a very great deal better off than they were in Saudi Arabia, however little that might have been saying.

That is before we even start about the descendants of African slaves, never mind about Christians or Jews. Those last may not enter the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Bahrain had been becoming increasingly democratic.

All legislation requires the approval of both Houses of Parliament, and, while one of those Houses is entirely appointed by the monarch (as in Britain or Canada), the other is entirely elected by universal suffrage. 

The Upper House, to which women are regularly appointed to make up for their dearth in the elected Lower House, includes a Jewish man and a Christian woman; the latter was the first woman ever to chair a Parliament in the Arab world. 

From 2008 to 2013, the Ambassador to the United States was a Jewish woman, Houda Nonoo.

She was the first Jewish ambassador of any modern Arab state, although the third woman to be an Ambassador of Bahrain.

She had previously been an elected parliamentarian. 

Notably, she describes her Jewish identity as unconnected, either to the State of Israel, which Bahrain does not recognise, or to the Holocaust, of which she knew nothing until she was 14. 

Her British higher education and British husband, as well as the fact that the synagogue brings in its rabbis from Britain, point to the very close ties indeed between that country and this.

This state of affairs has hitherto been acceptable even to Salafi Members of Parliament.

The regime has got to go.

But all of this must not be allowed to go with it.

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