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Chan'ad Bahraini

(Scomberomorous maculatus Bahrainius)

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Al-Khawaja pardoned by the King

Sunday, November 21, 2004

From AP via the Guardian:

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) - Bahrain's king pardoned a human rights activist who convicted of inciting hatred of the government and sentenced to one year in prison Sunday in a case linked to criticism of the prime minister.

The king, Sheik Hamad, pardoned Abdul-Hadi al-Khawaja from serving the rest of his sentence. He had been detained since Sept. 25.

Sheik Hamad also ordered the release of 13 people who were arrested last month during a demonstration in his support.

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14 Responses to 'Al-Khawaja pardoned by the King'

Anonymous Anonymous says:

So HH King Hamed has sent a loud message to his uncle the PM. "You charge and convict them, I pardon them."

I suspect the PM will not be so quick to take action next time. He now knows the King will not go along with his heavy handed tactics. Sad it had to go this far but in the end has it not worked out?    

Blogger peacefulmuslimah says:

Mabruk Chan'ad!

I see you got the mega nod for your political coverage. You could have a great career in front of you in political investigative journalism!

Brains, humor and great looks, too! Maash'allah you are blessed dear boy ;-)


Anonymous Anonymous says:

Hello everybody this is my first time on this site. The reason I am new here is because of a search I have done on the al khawaja affair which has led me to this wonderful site. I am a proud Bahraini so you can also say that it is I that is going to live here for the rest of my life. I will try to make myself as brief as possible, but also to get my point across to some people with such a narrow mind. Ask yourself, do you honestly think with all the royal tension that might result of the King's pardon of al khawaja OUR country is now better off? Do you people just like to report all the negative press which can seriously harm our economy and the money that will eventually end up in YOUR pocket? This is the only news that ever gets reported on the international media about Bahrain. You didn't think that the country just sh*t out the money that you earned, it had to have come from somewhere right? That's why our government has been trying so hard to create more and more jobs for my fellow Bahrainis. Where did you think the government gets its money from? Most of the Bahrainis all have earned their money one way or another from the government. Do you think you could have done a better job while still keeping the country as an attractive place for foreign investment?

I have looked at both sides and I can truly understand al khawaja's point and the remarks that have been made by him. Does he think that the country would have been better if ruled differently? Lets see, we'll make Bahrain a hardline Islamic country just like our neighbour, or worse for all the previous demonstrators desires. Much better right? Chan'ad you're an expat (as you claim) and I bet you'll leave if the rule was any different. I could go on and on but the bottom line is we are a very small and poor country relative to other GCC states. The UAE and Dubai in particular have got it right. They are both rich and have opened up the country to flourish. Do you see people over there complain about jobs? We could have seized the opportunity a long time before however sadly with our uneducated citizens with a complete misinterpretation of Islam (and this is generally linked with one sect of Islam) from the preachers who know nothing more than linking their believes with Islam and brainwashing our fellow Bahrainis, we have people unemployed, and with nothing better to do than protest about just anything.

I hope my point gets across to all the residents of Bahrain. Its not about who won the fight, rich vs poor, emperor vs labourer as you might precieve it. You have to face reality and try to do something positive about the situation. What was done today will make more criminals(as you can always read about them in the papers everyday), lazier national workforce, more protests and complaints about everything and much more drastic to all of us a royal tension that might seriously affect us. One way to look at the situation would be a father that has been spoiling his child due to his/her pestering power, while the child doesn't really know how he/she might be harmed growing up. Thank you all for your time once again I do hope my point gets across and I suggest you reread what I have written once again to really understand. If you have any questions I will do my best to find time to reply. I will post as anonymous but please refer to me as "K"    

Blogger sume says:
11/22/2004 06:48:00 am

A big congrats from me, too. When I went here:


and did a search for Abdul-Hadi al-Khawaja, your blog pops up in the toolbar. I love that news site because it gives several different sources for one story. (Angry face) I really do use tons of sources.

I had a feeling this whole deal was about saving face. I still wonder if that's not the case. In any case, I'm so relieved. So maybe now you can concentrate on your studies and the issue of poverty. Best of luck, Chan'ad!    

Anonymous Anonymous says:
11/22/2004 12:06:00 pm

Chanad - excellent coverage on the whole affair. As PM says, an investigative journalist career maybe a good idea!

I just want to say that the commenter, "K" has got it all wrong in his analogy. I think he needs to understand a few things - Bahrain is a lot different in its nature to Dubai where circa 80% of the population are expats but in Bahrain (and no sectarian splits and hence relative political stability), the vast majority are Bahrainis, many of whom have been ill-treated by lack of opportunities be it non-admission in universities, denial of jobs in the govt., and military for fear that they will get more influential which is typical in a country that is governed by a minority sect. That is why there is disillusionment - no jobs, no access to proper education and yes, there are some elements who unneccessarily incite violence and zealousness but one must understand the environment that allows such behavior to breed in.

I am a resident of Dubai and also an expat but I visit Bahrain quite often and I must say that Bahrainis are far more politically aware, tolerant and welcoming and have a real spirit about them and the fact that Chanad is so well-integrated into the Bahraini community is evident of that.    

Blogger peacefulmuslimah says:
11/22/2004 02:11:00 pm


You show very little understanding of the complexity of the "ex-pat" population in the Gulf. Knowing Chan'ad as I do, I can't tell you how far off the mark you are with your accusations of greed. Your attitude will continue to segregate the Gulf into a elitist serving backwater -- is that what you want?

Many of us have moved to the Gulf because of employment opportunities but stayed here because of a love for the culture, people, religion (I am a Muslim now) and country. Others, have been born and raised in the Gulf without ever having the advantages of citizenship -- hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and Asians, for example. You come across as a selfish spolied child who doesn't want to let anyone without the proper bloodline (in this case, Bahraini citizenship) into your game. You think we don't have the right to report or participate with other Bahrainis as they move for change?

Wake up and realize that folks like Chan'ad aren't your enemy. They are as inversted in "your country" as you are.


Blogger Bahrania says:
11/22/2004 03:00:00 pm

Unfortunately, there are people in Bahrain that do think like "K" - with the 'do not bite the hand that feeds you mentality' and that any form of criticism is seen as disloyal, unpatriotic and destructive. If you are even seen to air your views in an international medium, your seen as an evil force that is trying to destroy the Bahraini economy by giving out a false image!!!!

All I can say to K, is open your eyes and smell the tear gas. The Father-child relationship THAT YOU SEE, is the Master-slave relationship THAT I SEE.    

Blogger Chanad says:
11/22/2004 05:29:00 pm

I wish I had the time to respond to all of the parts of your post, but I don't, so let me just repond to one point.

Your analogy of the father-child relationship is the one used by anyone who wants to control someone else. I think many Bahrainis feel humiliated that they are viewed as children who need to be told when to eat, sleep and go to the bathroom. The point is that Bahrainis are not children. Therefore they should have the right to take risks, and they should be able to hold themselves responsible if they screw up. If someone wants to give advice, or a helping hand then that is great. But no one should force anything on someone else under the pretence that "we know what's best for you".    

Blogger Desert Island Boy says:
11/22/2004 08:45:00 pm

I am glad that Agent K stated his case the way he did. It wasn't an argument based in ignorance or spewed in passion. That's the kind of multi-faceted dialogue I would like to see.

No one dares imagine that releasing Khawaja is the cure-all but there will be many who believe that Khawaja and the PM are all that stand between living the Arabian dream. That is the mentality that most poor Bahrainis have, that the government is responsible for their wellbeing. Of course the government is culpable in the discrimination that occurs. Events like these worry me as they heighten tensions rather than make progress towards reconciliation.

For most of us, Khawaja's release is only a testament that the democratic reforms and its commitment to free speech are genuine. As long as every Bahraini has the right to be heard, followed by the right and the opportuinites to a better life for him and his family, we will see progress. But sitting down and accepting whatever shows up on your plate, well those days will be over soon. The portions coming down will be smaller, we have an exploding population and diminishing economic strength. It's all hands on deck, regardless of religion, ethnicity or class.

There are other alternatives to becoming the Islamic Islands of Bahrain. But K is right, it's not about who won and who can get more out of whom. It's about reaching an acceptable situation for all Bahraini's and to those that contribute to its prosperity. People talk about how Bahrain probably should have joined the UAE, thinking that we would become like Dubai or Abu Dhabi. The fact is no one outside of the Gulf knows about Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain or Fujairah, and what was to keep us from reaching their fates? We took a risk to go it alone and who knows if under the UAE federation we could have achieved our status in banking or tourism. We are who we are, and we have our problems and WE, not the government alone should solve it. The government is not perfect and the democratic reform is an opportunity for the regime to learn from its' people. This is the kind of give and take that is necessary to sustain our society.    

Anonymous Anonymous says:
11/23/2004 01:10:00 pm

Sorry..I read K's comments but i really can't understand what he/she really means and where it is all stemming from? I get more and more confused everytime the writer says: I hope you understand me! No, I don't. Can someone enlighten me? Silly Little Girl    

Anonymous Anonymous says:
11/23/2004 01:10:00 pm

Sorry..I read K's comments but i really can't understand what he/she really means and where it is all stemming from? I get more and more confused everytime the writer says: I hope you understand me! No, I don't. Can someone enlighten me? Silly Little Girl    

Blogger sume says:
11/23/2004 03:21:00 pm

You know the funny thing is that I had the perception that Bahrain was full of well-to-do western expats with jobs in large companies i.e. banks and such. I had no idea about expats like Chan'ad, talk about misperceptions. I might not have known until I'd gotten there had I know came across this blog.

Though it's not the cure-all, this business with al-Khawaja seems a good step forward or at least not a step backward. I'll keep the rest of my opinion to myself being on the outside. After all, I'm just another meddling future expat who's learned to care about what happens to Bahrain.

Keep doing what you're doing Chan'ad.    

Blogger Angelo Embuldeniya (Strav) says:
11/25/2004 06:13:00 am

Chanad i remeber you mentioning quite a while ago that you'd like to go back to the start of this whole al-khawajah affair.. well today morning the online edition of Financial Times (FT.com) had an article ('Jobless corner' of Bahrain a far cry from glossy malls)by William Wallis commenting on the McKinsey Report and i just thought you might be interested in reading more about it. Here's the link (http://news.ft.com/cms/s/e2d970a6-3e86-11d9-a52d-00000e2511c8.html)

The interesting points in the article that i'd like to focus on were:

1- "Bahrain has to make a fundamental choice about how to address the problems," says the report. "One path involves incremental, ad hoc reforms. . . this would require government regulations micro-managing private sector decisions" and ultimately stifling growth.

2- The other is to "break the cycle". To do this, the private sector must become the engine of growth, with Bahrainis or equally Saudis, Emiratis or Omanis its employees of choice.

3-The measures McKinsey proposes to achieve this include imposing "labour fees and a quota ceiling for expats to restrict supply of labour across the economy".

4-Funds raised from work permits would subsidise Bahraini wages and go towards improving skills.

5-Meanwhile, laws preventing expatriate workers from changing jobs, a restriction that has encouraged exploitation and ill-treatment of cheap foreign labour, would be abolished.

6-McKinsey hopes this will create a more efficient job market, if "Bahrainisation" targets are also abolished. In other words, once employing expatriates becomes as expensive, the job of finding work for Bahrainis would be left to market forces.    

Blogger Angelo Embuldeniya (Strav) says:
11/25/2004 06:20:00 am

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.    

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