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Chan'ad Bahraini

(Scomberomorous maculatus Bahrainius)

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Extra riot police on the streets?

Monday, May 17, 2004
Is it just me, or am I seeing an abundance of riot police vehicles patrolling the streets in the past few days? It reminds of the days during the uprising way back in 1995/96 when there were public security vehicles on every street corner. Well I'm guessing that the added security these days is a precaution against any trouble that might be sparked by the political standoff that has not yet come to a proper conclusion.

On another note, isn't it odd that the vast majority of the public security personnel on the streets are from a completely different land and culture? For those of you not from Bahrain, the guys patrolling the streets are almost entirely from the Balochi ethnic group, hailing from the Balochistan province of Pakistan. I'm not really sure when and how this system began, but a friend of mine from Oman tells me that Balochis make up the bulk of the security forces over there also. But that makes some slightly more sense as regions of Balochistan were once a part of the Omani Sultanate, and I remember reading somewhere that the Balochis were even used as security forces in Zanzibar when it was still under Omani rule.

The Balochis really have a reputation on the island. I remember that when I was in school here, guys with the right contacts would threaten to have "the Balochis come beat you up". And I heard many stories of this actually being done.

Well if anyone knows anything behind any of this then let us know.
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5 Responses to 'Extra riot police on the streets?'

Anonymous Anonymous says:

Hey Chan'ad :)

It is a completely different world to the west. Riots very rarely occur here.

I just wanted to thank you for your blog. Our media allways paints middle eastern countries as being filled with 3000 year old goatherders. We ofcourse know this is not true. I, like nearly all my fellow westerners, am fairly ignorant of life in the middle east and a blog such as yours allows us to meet and see real muslims and cultures instead of the constant terrorist/anti muslim media. Good on you!

Thanks again :)    

Blogger Chanad says:

Thanks for the nice words... I'm glad you're finding this blog useful. I've also recently come to realize the power of blogs as an alternative source of news and opinions, different from the information churned out by our state and corporate controlled media. There really is value in allowing two regular individuals to interact in this way.

With regards to the riots, just wanted to let you know that we don't really have riots to speak of. There was a period during 95/96 when things got slightly out of hand. But even then it wasn't really riots but a few violent acts perpetrated by a few individuals. However the "riot police" (officially, the "public security force") have always maintained a limited presence on the streets (as a means of intimidation, I imagine).


Anonymous Anonymous says:

Hi Chan'ad... y not hamour?

Anyways with regards to the Beluchi's in the police force, i'd prefer to call them mercenaries. It seems part of the current regime's policy is to import these mercenaries from Beluchistan, the Yemen or Jordanian Bedions, give them a really good package consisting of citizenship, accomodation, free schooling and all kinds of benefit, in return to their blind loyalty the AlKhalifa regime. This goes for the defence forces also.

If you compare this policy with other GCC countries, you will see that they use the police force and defence force as a kind of employment sector which absorbs the unskilled labour force or those with just high school degrees. In Bahrain, the native Baharna are absolutely prohibited from joining these forces purely as a discriminatory sectarian policy, due to their fear that they may not swear pure allegiance to the Alkhalifa. If this was not the case, then the 15% unemployment rate could be solved overnight.

AS you mentioned in the nineties, it was these mercenaries who used severe force to clamp down on protestors. They hardly speak arabic yet have been given the authority to beat and torture and arrest arbitrarily.

Now your perceptive observation is part of a much more bigger and dangerous problem- that of the concerted policy of political naturalization. Estimates reach up to 50,000+ mercenaries being naturalized over the last 10 years. These numbers also include all members of Aldowasir tribe who live in Aldowasir district in Damam of Saudi- they all have passport yet most of them havent even set foot in Bahrain.

Of course no exact numbers can be attained as they have all been fiddled and covered up in the Ministry of Interior and Immigration, who have all the documents to which no one has access to.

A parliamentary probe proved itself pathetic in investigating this. If you would like to know more about this I recommend obtaining an undercover video filmed by Alwefaq society which shows clear evidence of forgery on the governments part in distributing such passports illegally and registering them at non-existent addresses.

The fear is that not giving this matter its due regard, we are undermining the future repercussions of this irresponsible policy. In such a small country with very limited resources and high population density and high unemployment, such demand on its resources will pose a dangerous economic outlook.

As for the current presence of the riot police is probably to pre-empt protests regarding the political prisoners that are more akin to hostages taken by government in order to use them as bargaining tools with the opposition.    

Blogger Chanad says:
5/18/2004 11:45:00 pm

Thanks for this useful information. I've never really been able to fully understand what the ethnic/religious/linguistic makeup of Bahrainis is. Could anyone explain it to us?

The basic separation appears to be between the Sunni and the Shia'. As I recall, most of the Shia's were in Bahrain prior to when the Al-Khalifa took control of the country (coming from a region near Kuwait). The poster above mentioned the term "Baharna" but I've never been able to figure out who exactly the term applies to... is it to all of the Shia's, or is it a sub-category? I'm also aware of a large number of immigrants that arrived from Iran somewhere around the middle of the last century. And there are many Farsi speakers among both the Sunni and Shia'... how did this come to be?

If anyone knows then please enlighten us. Thanks    

Anonymous Anonymous says:
5/19/2004 01:36:00 pm

The demographic composition of Bahrain consists of 4 main groups:

Baharna- Shia who have inhabited the islands since the pre-islamic era and who composed 95% of the population before the AlKhalifa conquests in the 18th century now probably only 50%.

Arab Sunna - AlKhalifa and a few tribal families who joined them in their conquest of Bahrain in the 18th century such as Aldowsary.

3ajam- Shia of iranian origin still speak the Ijmi dialect of persian.

Howala- Sunnis of iranian origin (some say they were originally Arabs who went to live on the West coast of Iran and then came back to Bahrain) some still speak a dialect of persian. Tend to be big shot families.

The Shia around 70-80% now of the population. I guess we will soon have to add a fifth group which states:

Mojanaseen: Sunnis of Yemeni, Bolushi or Jordanian origins who were bought to Bahrain to serve the AlKhalifa in the 90s- probably will make up 15-20% of population- but no exact figures.    

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