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Chan'ad Bahraini

(Scomberomorous maculatus Bahrainius)

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Bahraini liberals and Al Muntada

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Here's an interesting commentary about Bahrain's liberals and Al Muntada in this morning's Daily Star:

The majority of those who describe themselves as liberals in Bahrain have no illusions about their status in the political and intellectual life of their land, or its ambitions and future.

The liberals are delighted to participate with other Bahrainis in exercising their long-awaited legitimate right to form political societies or parties. However, some free-minded activists sought a different path. They wanted to consider other possibilities and give Bahrainis another option that might improve the health of political life in their country. This crystallized in 2001 in the formation of Al-Muntada, or the forum, a grouping of some 50 liberal businessmen, academics and creative professionals.

These proto-liberals knew that they were entering uncharted territory. Their idea had yet to be explored in, let alone incorporated into, the topography of Bahraini political and intellectual life. Even democracy had been around in the country for a long time, though the extent to which it was debased, confused or made counterfeit was another story. Bahraini liberals wanted to develop their own understanding of the practice, or, to be more accurate they wanted to see how they could assimilate liberal ideas and ways of thinking into the cultural system of individuals in Bahrain. That was an enormous task and, to be achieved, required a long process.

So it was not surprising that during Al-Muntada's first annual general meeting, in 2003, most of the sessions were spent on trying to answer the question: "Who are we?" This question is still very much at the center of discussions of members in their casual and official meetings. This persistence should not be taken as a sign of impotence, but rather as a desire to give the subject all that it requires to come up with correct rather than hasty answers. (Continued)

(This was just an excerpt, read the whole thing here)

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