Just marvellous. While I fully support the right for segregated education, at this time, when there are so many other pressing issues, and the budget is getting ever tighter, we should not be wasting precious time and resources on these these things. If there is so much demand for segregated higher education, then by all means I encourage private investors to set up their own institutions to cater for this. But as acknowledged in the news report, making such changes in Bahrain University would cost alot of money, which need not be wasted. I'm sure it is possible to arrange some form of segregation within the lecture halls by merely reserving some of the seats exclusively for women, if they want. We need to focus on more important issues like the quality of the education being provided.
Why are we Muslims today so obsessed with controlling other people's bodies?
MANAMA: A Parliamentary committee yesterday approved a proposal to segregate students at Bahrain University.
This paves the way for the plan to be discussed before a full house, once parliament re-opens in the second week of October.
Services committee vice-chairman Shaikh Ali Mattar said although the proposal would cost the government a lot of money, university officials gave the committee assurances that segregation was already underway where possible.
"The university has obliged administrators and lecturers to wear acceptable, decent clothes when coming to university and this dress code would be also enforced on students soon," he told the GDN yesterday.
"There are segregated places at the university at the moment and more would be introduced.
"We are not looking for immediate segregation because we know this is impossible with the current tight budget allocated to the university. Hopefully, segregation would be introduced gradually.
"The mixing of sexes is Islamically unacceptable and the sooner we segregate students, the better it will be."
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Sounds like Bahrain is in alot more trouble than most people realize, and that maybe the "so called" reforms are just to placate people while the kingdom sinks further into the control on the mind/body police. How sad the people of Bahrain would allow this to happen to their society. Regards, M
M, the reason these Islamists are able to pass legislation like this is because of your “so-called” reforms. Its the reforms that gave these guys the chance to be elected in to parliament – without winning in the polls they’d still be farming goats or whatever it was they did before.
Unfortunately, democracy doesn’t necessarily mean good governance – sometimes it means morons, fantasists and dangerous sociopaths elected into office as in the case Ali Mattar and the rest of Asalah/Menbar.
Incidentally Chanad, Tariq Khonji’s commentary on this in today’s GDN was great – particularly his reference to the arbaya chick with too much make up on telling his friend to wear longer skirts at the University campus.
the reason these Islamists are able to pass legislation like this is because of your “so-called” reforms. Its the reforms that gave these guys the chance to be elected in to parliament
The idea for this is, it's better having them inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in. It's easy to be a radical when you're on the outside, it's another thing when you're on the inside and have to worry about making sure the garbage is picked up. (if you know what I mean)
Illogical; it is not the reforms that are wrong, but rather that people vote these guys into office and then wonder why they are more and more restricted. One can only assume since they were elected, continue to be elected, or more of them are elected, that that is the kind of government people want?????
Its going to get worse once Al Wefaq join in. Next time round in 2006 in all likelihood they’ll be a clerical majority in parliament if the current constitutional negotiations allow a compromise to Al Wefaq take part.
Judging by how they’ve run the student union at the University, I’d imagine that Al Wefaq will be enthusiastic supporters of an alliance with the salafists to pass legislation on so called “public morality” such as segregation.
Sorry for taking so long to reply. As you may have read, I've been away from the island for a few days.
Anyhows, I'd first of all like to say that I am reasonably confident that this proposal won't ever make it through all the legislation and ever be implemented. The situation right now is that Ali Matar has merely been allowed to put forward this proposal when the parliament reopens in October. I have enough faith in the Bahraini people and the system that this won't ever become law.
Second, I disagree with some suggestions put forward here that these actions are the "fault" of the recent political reforms. Yes, had there been no reforms then we would not have ever seen this proposal (or any other). But the "blame" for why Bahraini politics has dumbed down to this level does not fall on the reforms, but on people like you and me. We are at fault for not doing enough to take a stand, and for not letting our voices be heard. The Islamists on the other hand have organized themselves well and managed to put themselves in positions of influences, while we stand and watch from the sidelines. The Islamists are able to arrange for big protests against stupid things like Big Brother and Nancy Ajram, but we aren't able to rally people to protest against the issues that are important to us. Although the political reforms are far from perfect, it is our fault that they have not yielded better results.
And to answer the question addressed to me: "Chan'ad, what do you think of the prospects of this sort of legislation if there's a Shia-Sunni Islamist majority next time round with Al Wefaq taking part?" I'm no expert of Bahraini politics so don't quote me (try Bahraini Blog for better insight), but I believe that the entrance of Al Wefaq to electoral politics will be a positive step for Bahrain. Right now the Council of Representatives seems to dominated by Sunni Islamists, without any serious counterbalance. Al Wefaq's presence will make the parliament more representative of Bahrain's different social groups. Although Al Wefaq may also be Islamist, I think it's time for everyone to realize that Islamists are nothing to be afraid of. Moreover, just because both Asala and Al Wefaq are Islamists does not mean there will necessarily be a "Shia-Sunni Islamist majority". The political outlooks of these two groups differ too much. People need to understand that the difference between the two groups is much much more than just sectarian, i.e. Sunni vs. Shia. There is a lot more history that accompanies it.
Also, Al Wefaq have a proud tradition of standing up against the government -- something that our political system needs more of. The more we involve marginalized groups (Islamist or not) into the political playing field, rather than driving them underground towards radicalism, the better. (Try reading something by Vali Nasr to get an idea of what I'm talking about).
While I’d agree with your point about reform and I too support Al Wefaq’s right to stand for public office, I think you’re being far too generous. Just as it’s their democratic right to stand, its our right to thoroughly jeer, prod and hector the whole dismal bunch of them.
As soon as Al Wefaq get into parliament in 2006 they’re going to face the same problem of not having any serious economic policies that their sunni extremist counterparts face, and they’re solution’s going to be the same: campaign on social issues. It’ll mean more attempts to slowly strangle society through the imposition of petty rules all over the place.
The difference between Al Wefaq and Asalah is best illustrated in fact by their approaches to Bahrain University – Asalah want segregation; Al-Wefaq who now run the student body have opted for muttawa running around campus telling girls how to dress.
Neither of them has anything to say about education itself.
Very true. Neither of the groups have any social/economic agenda asides from trying get the society to conform to their understanding of "piety". But do you think the situation will be worse than right now when Al Wefaq enters the scene? I'm tempted to believe that Al Wefaq's role as a counterbalance might be good (if only nominal). I can't really imagine Asalah and Al Wefaq collaborating together to support "Islamist" issues, so we don't have to worry about that.
You are correct that "its our right to thoroughly jeer, prod and hector the whole dismal bunch of them." But we need to be doing more than just this in contributing positively to the political situation. Criticism is very useful (as you can see, it's something I do alot) but we need to start being proactive (sorry for the cliched word) rather than merely responding whenever anyone makes a stupid proposal.
Also, I'd like to get your feedback on this. I get the impression from my interactions with people that many Bahrainis are fed up with the current MPs' stupid proposals. Do you think that this experience has taught Bahrainis to vote more carefully next time around? Do you foresee a more meaningful election in 2006? Or will everyone forget when election time comes around?
It would be nice to think that Bahrain’s democratisation offered a way to defeat the extremists, and I too get the sense that people who would previously have given them the benefit of the doubt are now actively opposed to them. Perhaps even more significant is the fact that after the elections a lot of people’s reactions to MPs’ bizarre legislation was what’s the point of the parliament? Now the question most commonly asked is what’s the point of the Islamist MPs?
Asalah and Al Menbar will certainly face a more concerted challenge – something that they’ve cleverly made more difficult by blocking legislation at the committee level to introduce legally structured political parties, unbelievably claiming that the word “Hezb” has connotations of the “dark side” in the Koran. Thus ensuring that they have maximum advantage in terms of political organisation with their extremist clerics pumping out propaganda to the faithful.
But I think things will go back with Al Wefaq’s involvement. I don’t agree at all that they’re incapable of working with Asalah on a social agenda. Take the example of the sheikh MP from Al-A’ali who is virtually an Al Wefaq deputy, he has cooperated on many occasions with Asalah – most notably leading the cavalry in the riot against Nancy Ajram’s concert, after Asalah’s MPs had whipped up a frenzy. In fact they’ll complement each other.
This scenario’s made worse by the fact that they complement each other too in the constituencies they’re going to be campaigning in: Al Wefaq and Asalah are not going to be competing for the same seats, with possibly only Hamad Town the area they’d go head to head. Al Wefaq’s going to be looking to take seats of left, liberal, tribal and independent deputies.
I get the impression though that support for all the parties remains very fluid, and come 2006 there’s no way that Al Wefaq will do as well as they did in municipal elections in 2002. Its decision to boycott the last parliamentary elections will I think be crucial – the decision itself was controversial, there’s now the incumbency factor with MPs who’re already there, and the splits between Mushaime and Salman have given the party a sense of drift.