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Chan'ad Bahraini

(Scomberomorous maculatus Bahrainius)

Free Ali

Monday, February 28, 2005

Here are some of my photos from the demonstration in support of jailed blogger Ali Abdulemam that took place this afternoon in front of the Public Prosecutor's office:

As you can see, the turnout was small (50 people max) and there weren't many signs (but everyone had tape sealing their mouths shut). But obviously that's because it was only announced last night, and today is a weekday. I'm sure we can expect far bigger numbers at any future demonstration.

I got to speak to Ali's brother and he said that he's being held at Hoora prison right now. He said that he visited Ali in the morning/afternoon and that he's still in good spirits and smiling (just as he was last night when he was being taken to Hoora prison). And contrary to the reports published in the local papers this morning, he stated categorically that Ali has NOT accepted the charges. There's going to be a meeting tonight to decide the plan of action for the future.

And the latest news from Bahrania: 19 year-old Mohammed Almosawi, a second moderator of BahrainOnline.org, has been summoned to the Public Prosecutor's office for questioning tomorrow morning.

Even though most of us Bahraini bloggers don't have very anti-government material on our sites, this case does affect us all. (i) Even though I don't hate the government outright, I would like to reserve my right to criticize it when and if I feel the need to. (ii) Most of our blogs allow anonymous people to leave whatever comments they want on our sites. I don't want to be held accountable for each and every comment left on my blog because I might not have the time check each one. (iii) I have not yet seen any Bahraini laws regarding electronic media. Ali has been charged with violating the Press Law, but wasn't it scrapped or under revision or something? What is the Press Law?

So unless the government can prove that Ali made a statement inciting violence against others, I will fully support the demand for his immediate release.

Here we go again?

This is totally unconfirmed, but a message has been posted on Montadayat.org claiming that Ali Abdulemam is going to be detained for a further 15 days. Apparently, he is being accused of violating the Press Law, spreading lies and provoking hatred towards the government. The forum message is also announcing a protest tomorrow (Monday 28th) in front of the Public Prosecutor's office at 3pm.

Will this be the birth of another goverment created superstar?


Update (11:30am): Just wanted to confirm the statement above that Ali is being held in custody for upto 15 days. He is reportedly facing 5 specific charges:

  1. Defaming the royalty
  2. Inciting hatred towards the regime
  3. Publishing news to destabilize security ("تزعزع الأمن")
  4. Violating the Press Laws
  5. Violating the Communication Laws

Does anyone know where I can get a copy of the Press and Communication Laws?

And it seems that Ali is well on his way to superstardom. Check out these banners that are going around:

And click here to see some photos of Ali being taken somewhere in a police jeep last night.

Bahraini blogger detained

Sunday, February 27, 2005

If you haven't read about it on Bahrania's blog yet, fellow Bahraini blogger Ali Abdulemam has reportedly been detained by Bahrain authorities. Although he doesn't blog too much but he does run BahrainOnline.org which is one of the most popular online forums in Bahrain. Batelco has been blocking the site for quite a while, but you can get there via this proxified link (thanks for the tip Strav). Anyways, go and read Bahrania's post which contains a translation of the statement issued by BahrainOnline.org

If any you readers have any more info about the situation then please leave a comment or email me.


Saturday, February 26, 2005

Click on the photo to enlarge it. I found the notice on a wall in a residential area of the Manama suq. It worries me for two reasons: (i) that the residents are threatening vigilantism (which they've acted on in the past several times), and (ii) that the Indian and Pakistani mafias (which have their Bahraini patrons) continue to operate their prostitution and bootleg alcohol businesses on the island.

Olivier Roy

The spring issue of the ISIM Review is out, featuring another great article by Prof. Olivier Roy. I never cease to be impressed by Roy's captivating and concise writing style... it's such a relief from the boring writing style of most other academics. Even when I disagree with (or don't care about) what he's saying, I love reading his stuff because it is so well written.

Anyways, this latest article talks about Muslims in Europe. Here is an excerpt:

The quest for authenticity [among some European Muslims] is no longer a quest to maintain a pristine identity, but to go back to and beyond this pristine identity through a non-historical, abstract, and imagined model of Islam. It is not an issue of nostalgia for a given country, for one’s youth or for family roots. In this sense, “westernization” means something other than becoming Western, hence the ambivalent attitude towards it. But such behaviours do not necessarily lead to violence, although they provide a fertile ground. There are two elements that could explain the violence. The first issue is that such radicals are not linked to any real community. Their community is not rooted in a given society or culture, and hence has to be reconstructed and experienced as an act of faith. They refer to a virtual ummah (community of believers) whose existence relies on their behaviour and deeds. The obsession about blasphemy and apostasy goes along with the vanishing of the social authority of Islam. The “dreamed” community becomes a “nightmared” one. The issue of boundary” comes to the fore. By slaughtering a “blasphemer” Mohammed B. [Theo Van Gogh's alleged killer] literally inscribed the boundary on his victim’s throat. Do not trespass.

If we examine patterns of other terrorists we can observe a different and more political approach: their targets are the same as the traditional targets of the Western ultra-left of the seventies (US imperialism), and not Christianity as such. Even if they achieved a level of mass murder unknown to their predecessors, they still followed the path opened by Baader Meinhof, the Red Brigades, and Carlos. The proponents of the “clash of civilizations” should look at the footages of the hostage takings in Iraq: the “trial” of a blind-folded hostage under the banner of a radical organization, the “confession” of the hostage, followed by his execution, are literally borrowed from the staging technique of the Italian Red Brigades when they captured and killed the former Prime minister Aldo Moro in 1978.

You can read the rest of the article by downloading this pdf file (86KB), or you can browse other articles from thise issue by clicking here. Oh, and if you're interested in the topic, don't forget to order a copy of Roy's recently published "Globalized Islam: The Search For A New Ummah" (which is a follow up to his 1994 book "The Failure of Political Islam").

By the way, did any of you get to attend the Gilles Kepel lecture that took place here a couple weeks ago?

The Boghole

Friday, February 25, 2005

For those of you readers who aren't from the Middle East or Asia, here is a chance to learn about one of the most private aspects of our lives in this part of the world. At the end of one of Muscati's recent posts he has included a photo of a toilet cubicle of a newly remodeled building that he visited in Muscat. But there is no commode in sight... just a hole in the ground: "the Boghole", as coined by Bahrania:

hole in the ground

To learn a bit more about this contraption read the comments section of Muscati's post. It's such a fascinating topic, I encourage others with experience to leave a comment there also with their insight. (According to DIB, its real name is a "Turkish toilet").

The discrimination report

A few weeks ago I had a post about the shadow report being sent to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. At the time I only had a GDN article to rely on, but I did eventually manage to get a copy of the full report (I asked nicely). I've been asked not to publish the report in its entirety as they want it to be officially unveiled at the Committee session in Geneva next month. But I thought I'd give you my reaction to it.

Although the introduction gives an overview of many types of discriminatory practices in Bahrain (including discrimination against women and expats), the bulk of the report is concerned with the specific issue of discrimination against the Shia by the government and the royal family. Among the points discussed in the report are:

  • the discrimination against the Shia in high-ranking public offices (in which there is an over-representation of Al Khalifa members), and in certain ministries altogether
  • the extrajudicial naturalization of foreign tribal Sunnis
  • the denial of permits for Shia places of worship
  • that Shia beliefs are not included in government school Islam classes
  • that Shias are denied housing permits for Riffa
  • that the the UN Convention on the Elimination Racial Discriminationant (that Bahrain has ratified) can not be invoked in the courts
  • that the government has not started any public information campaigns about ending racial discrimination, as required by the Convention

As I said in my earlier post, I strongly agree that these government practices must be brought to an end now, and there is a need to speak in an honest and open manner about it. Unlike most other forms of discrimination here, the government's discrimination against the Shia is institutionalized. For generations, it has been government policy to deny jobs to Shias in the ministries of defence and interior, but somehow it's no biggy.

I am disappointed however that the report does not discuss at length the discrimination against migrant workers here. This is obviously a very serious problem for large section of the resident population. It is extremely worrying that there have been calls from the public to get rid of all migrant workers from Manama, or threats to burn down a labour camp in Sitra. The report should have taken note of this distressing recent trend among the public, and the need for measures to counter it.

Regarding the presentation of the report, I have two suggestions on how it could be improved. First, I think it needs more footnotes than there are in the current version. There are many assertions made in the report that you or I, living in Bahrain, know about first hand, but that a UN representative in Geneva would need detailed evidence about.

Also most of the research carried out by the BCHR for this report was of a statistical nature: i.e. 'The Ministry of Interior contains X% Sunni employees and X% Shia employees.' In my opinion, the arguments could have been greatly strengthened by provding some case studies of specifical individuals, places, and events that are testament to racial discrimination here. It could have included some quotes by some Bahrainis about their lives, or they could have written about the ridiculous disparity between certain Shia and Sunni areas (maybe even including some photos). In general, I felt the report does not contain enough names, places and dates.

But I should let you know that I received the report over two weeks ago, so they have probably made changes to it since. In any case, I commend the BCHR for raising these important, but rarely discussed issues. And I hope the government takes the report seriously when it is presented.

Checking self-interests

Thursday, February 24, 2005

So fellow blogger (and visiting professor) Scott Waalkes gave a lecture on Tuesday night titled "The Political Economy of US Trade Policy: Lessons for Bahrain". The GDN covered the lecture in their business pages, but as Scott laments in his "semi-official journal" (there's no permalink to the post, so find the one dated Feb 23, 2005), the GDN didn't fully convey what his lecture was about. He tells about his discussion with the GDN reporter:

"Can you put this in simple language for the common man?" the reporter asked.

"Bahrain should build institutions to keep self-interests in check," I said.

"Can you explain what that means for Bahrain? What kind of institutions?" said the reporter.

"OK, two main things. First, representative government, where many different interests could be represented."

"Oh, I don't think we can say that in the newspaper."

Of course, the GDN report didn't mention anything about representative government, but it did retain the very ambiguous statement: "Bahrain... should develop institutions that can limit the damage of self-interests". The report also claims that Scott said "Businesses should therefore shift from being inefficient to efficient"; a completely meaningless statement that was probably put in to make up for all the stuff that they weren't allowed to print. You can read the full GDN article here.

I know that we bloggers are always complaining about the GDN and the local press in general. And I know that some of you readers know much more than I do about editorial self-censorship in the local press. I understand that not only do they have the government breathing down their necks, but also the general public, as has been made apparent by the recent Samira Rajab controversy.

But something's got to give. The Press is exactly one of those "institutions to keep self-interests in check". And until it doesn't allow itself to check self-interests with more honesty, we aren't going to get anywhere.

Happy Birthday Mahmood!

So apparently, it's Mahmood's birthday today. It seems that M.tv is currently down, while Mahmood is at some bloody Nordic skiing competition in Germany... so I thought I'd wish him a Happy Birthday from here... Happy Birthday Mahmood!

Now get back here and reset your server! ... I'm sure that some of the M.tv regulars are suffering from withdrawal symptoms already.

Version 2.0

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

As you can tell, Chan'ad Bahraini has undergone a change of skin. There may still be a few problems, so please let me know if something is broken by either leaving a comment here, or e-mail me on chanad@gmail.com. Cheers.

Free Mojtaba and Arash

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

We interrupt regular programming to bring you this...

The good folks at the 'Committee to Protect Bloggers' (that I talked about last month) have scheduled today as Free Mojtaba and Arash Day. Arash Sigarchi and Mojtaba Saminejad are two Iranian bloggers who are currently in prison because of their blogs. The CPB encourages bloggers around the world to do the following:

  • Dedicate your blog for the entire day to Mojtaba and Arash. Write only about their situation, and the danger to bloggers in general, or leave your blog blank with just the demand, “Free Mojtaba and Arash!” on it. This is the major action. If you do nothing else, do this. Let there be a pause in the daily business of the blogosphere in the name of freedom.
  • Download one of our banners (or here) or buttons and post it on your page.
    Sponsor get-togethers, in cyberspace or in real space.
  • Write letters and emails to representatives of the Iranian government. (and here) and to representatives of your own. Request that Arash be freed and Mojtaba’s charages be dismissed. [Mojtaba was arrested again after this was posted]
  • Call local and national press. Let them know what is happening.
  • If you’re feeling particular ambitious, take your message outside. Make a sign, be seen, deliver letters in person to representatives of the Iranian government or to your own.

If you are in Bahrain, the contact info for the Iranian Embassy here is:

Tel: 00 973 722101
Fax: 00 973 722400
Address: Ent.1034-Villa No.1&2, Road 3221, Area 332, Mahooz, Manama
E-mail: iranemb@batelco.com.bh

So register your complaints there. If you do not live in Bahrain then find the contact info of the Iranian Embassy in your country from this site. It would be better if you would write your own letter, but if you don't have the time, then here is one that you can copy and paste into an e-mail, and send to the concerned persons (I adapted it from the CPB's letter):

Dear Sir or Madam,

The state of Iran currently has two men, Arash Sigarchi and Mojtaba Saminejad, in prison. I respectfully request that you release both men. Their imprisonment is contrary to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I hasten to remind you, Iran was one of the 58 United Nations Member States who voted to ratify this document. I also request that you make public the information regarding the charges being brought against Mr. Sigarchi and Mr. Saminejad, and by whom they will be defended in court.

Sincerely, _____________

In addition to your local Iranian Embassy, I suggest that you also CC the e-mail to:

... Regular transmission will continue tomorrow

Azza in Bahrain: then and now

Sunday, February 20, 2005

That was then:

and this is now (well, yesterday actually):

I found the old photo at the top at the shaheedbh.com forum, along with two more old photos of ashura processions in Bahrain:

The photos don't have a date or location... can any of you make a guess as to when or where they might have been taken?

Also, do check out some similar old azza photos at Global Soul's blog here and here.

Karbala in image

Saturday, February 19, 2005

This year has been the most visible and "in-your-face" Muharram in Bahrain that I can remember. It seems that all the villages and all the matams are competing with each other by putting up the most black flags or banners, or displaying the most elaborate artwork. Although it can look sloppy when the flags or banners are carelessly put up everywhere, it seems that Ashura inspires a great deal of creativity in Bahrain. In that respect, I think the top prize has to be given to Diraz village for outdoing the rest by building this beautiful model:

A replica of the dome and minarets of Imam Hussain's mausoleum has been used as a backdrop for the scene from the Tragedy of Karbala when Zuljenah, the Imam's horse, returned to the camp of the Household, pierced by arrows and stained with blood.

Diraz also provided this beautiful painted banner:

There are tons more excellent models and artworks in the main procession area in Manama, but I didn't get a chance to take photos of them (except for the painting at the top of this post)... I'll try finding some links to pictures online.

Anyways, some other random photos of Ashura decorations around Bahrain. Continuing with Diraz:

The entrance to Bani Jamra:

A matam in Karranah village:

And another matam in Karranah:

A replica of Imam Hussain's tomb in Karzakan village (or maybe Dumistan village... I forget):

Karbala in verse

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Were it not for our terrorist co-religionists, I'm sure that by now Hollywood would have picked up on the story of Karbala and made a movie about it. "The Passion of Hussain" it might have been called. In my opinion, a screen rendering of the tragedy of Karbala has the potential to be far more emotional and moving (and bloody) than Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ". And it contains similar elements of an infinitely righteous protagonist who sacrifices his life for the sake of Humanity.

Even though there may not have yet been any movies made about it, the story of Karbala has for centuries inspired a great deal of poetry and literature throughout the Muslim world. The tradition that I am most familiar with is that of Urdu poetry, and to a lesser extent, poetry in other South Asian languages: Punjabi, Sindhi, Persian. If you're interested, you should read these two short papers on the subject: "Karbala and the Imam Husayn in Persian and Indo-Muslim literature" by the late Prof Annemarie Schimmel, and "Recasting Karbala in the Genre of Urdu Marsiya" by Syed Akbar Hyder. You should definitely read Schimmel's translation and explanation of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai's "Sur Kedaro" in her paper.

Here, I'm just going to share with you some random verses about Karbala that I am familiar with. But let me start off by sharing a pair of Urdu couplets that I saw on banners hanging right here in Bahrain, near the entrance to Bani Jamra last June (pictured above). I was a quite surprised because I've never seen any Urdu signs in Bahrain before. But anyhow, this was the first couplet:

By God, they are doing virtuous deeds
Those who give consideration to the grief of Hussain

And the second one:

The murder of Hussain is actually the death of Yazid
Islam becomes alive after each Karbala

Hmm... interesting, but by no means the most moving poetry I've read.

One of the most frequently heard poems about Hussain in South Asian Muslim culture is that of the 12th century Indian mystic Moinuddin Chishti. He wrote in Persian:

شاه هست حسین بادشاه هست حسین
دین ﻫست حسین دین پناه هست حسین
سر داد نه داد دست در دست یزید
حقا که بناے لا إلاه است حسین

Translated into English:

Hussain is the Master, Hussain is the King,
Hussain is Faith, Hussain is Refuge for the Faith,
He gave his head but not his hand in Yazid's hand,
Verily Hussain is the foundation of La'Ilah.

To be honest I'm not sure why that poem is so often quoted. Once again, it's nice but it certainly is not as moving as some others.

For something more emotive, definitely read something by Mir Babar Ali Anis, a 19th century Indian poet who perfected the Urdu marsiya (elegy, usually about Hussain) form. Here is an excerpt from Anis's epic marsiya "The Battle of Karbala":

Intoning martial verses, Ali's scion
Advanced with Gabriel's hand upon his shoulder.
Onward he advanced a male lion,
With sleeves rolled up; each step he took grew holder
The bride of battle was in splendour wreathed;
Husain's intrepid sword was now unsheathed.

The flaming sword was wrenched out of its cover,
As moonbeams fly, as perfume leaves the rose,
As a comely maiden taken from her lover,
As breath departs the breast, as red blood flows.
When thunder roared and all the air did swell,
Laila swooned and from her litter fell.

The famous Indian Muslim poet-philosopher Mohammed Iqbal also devoted a section in his Persian language Rumuz-e-Bekhudi ("The Mysteries of Selflessness") to the Tragedy. In this, Iqbal attempts to go beyond the usual story-telling and, in typical Iqbal manner, tries figure out what significance it has for Muslims in the current-day context. Read it here: Concerning Muslim freedom, and the secret of the Tragedy of Karbala.

For me though, I've found some of the most heart-stirring verses about Karbala in Qawwali music, a form of Sufi devotional music developed South Asia. In one of the verses of a qawwali marsiya performed by the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Imam Hussain's physical beheading is translated into the Sufi concept of Self-annihilation by "chopping off your Ego". Here is my measly attempt at translating the verse from Urdu (obviously, it sounds much better in its original language):

if you are in search of the (Divine) Sight, lower your head during prayer
distance your Self from your heart, erase your Self during prayer
then will the Spirit of God become visible to you during prayer
but first, like Hussain, become beHeaded during prayer
and say "Ya Hussain, Ya Hussain"

Some other interesting words can be found in the Sabri Brothers' qawwali song "Saqia aur pila" ("Cupbearer, bring me more"), which also uses a similar likening of Hussain's physical beheading with spiritual beheading. The song is based on the common Sufi motif of wine and the drunkard; in which wine symbolizes Divine Light. It's a dialogue between the cupbearer and the drunkard, and part way through the cupbearer asks which wine to serve. Again, my very poor translation from Urdu:

A voice arose [that of the cupbearer]: "Which wine shall you drink in your court?
The wine that Mansoor1 drank when he crucified himself? Will you drink that?"
He [the drunkard] replied "No"

"The one that Tabriz2 drank when he flayed himself? Will you drink that?'
He replied "Not this either"

"The one that Sarmad3 drank when he beheaded himself? Will you drink that?"
He replied "Not this either"

"The one that Jesus drank when he awoke the dead? Will you drink that?"
He replied "Not this either"

"The one that Moses drank when he displayed his greatness atop Mount Sinai? Will you drink that?"
He replied "Not this either"

"The one that Job drank when he plundered the riches of patience? Will you drink that?"
He replied "Not this either"
"Then which one?"

He replies: "The wine that was consumed at Karbala!"

At this point the song moves away from the dialogue, and begins to narrate the Tragedy:

the wine that was consumed at Karbala
the wine that was given to Ibn-e-Haidar [i.e. Hussain]

the wine that Zahra's beloved [i.e. Hussain ] drank
after which he gave up his life for the sake of the Master

wounds on his sides, the blood was flowing
the shadow of the Creator on his head

for three days Hussain was without water
despite being the Prophet's grandson

why ask for water from the enemies
when a Luminous Wine was kept right there?

after drinking one cup of "La ilaha"4
in the passion of Love he beheaded himself!


1 "Mansoor" here refers to the 9th century Persian mystic Hussain ibn Mansoor al-Hallaj. He is famous for being crucified because of his unorthodox beliefs.

2 "Tabriz" here refers to Shams Tabriz, the spiritual guide of the mystic poet Jalaluddin Rumi. According to popular legend, he was flayed alive because of his unorthodox beliefs.

3 "Sarmad" refers to Mohammed Said Sarmad, an Indo-Armenian mystic poet who was beheaded for his unorthodox beliefs by the Moghul emperor Aurangzeb.

4 "La ilaha" is used as an abbreviation for the phrase "There is no deity except God".

Kangaroo courts

What the hell is going on in Bahrain? From the GDN:

A Bahraini policeman has been convicted of having sex with his under-age sister-in-law. He denied the charge, but was convicted and sentenced to six months in jail, to be suspended if he pays a BD200 fine. The 17-year-old Iraqi girl alleged that he raped her twice after she invited him into her home while she was alone, the Lower Criminal Court heard. (Continued)

Compare the above punishments with those of another case reported in today's GDN:

A 20-year-old Bahraini man has been sentenced to six months in jail, suspended for three years, for possessing and using cannabis. He was also fined BD500, after being convicted at the Lower Criminal Court. (Continued)

I'm outraged, but sadly I'm not particularly surprised, for there have been plenty of similar ridiculous court rulings in the past few years. All the more reason to support the call to overhaul the judiciary. Hope and pray that you never have to face any of our judges.

And don't forget: Ahmed and others are still sitting in prison without trial.

Hussaini processions commence

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Contrary to my post three days ago, the Hussaini processions didn't actually begin until last night. I tried taking some photos yesterday but they're not very good. My camera's flash is terrible so I don't bother with it, which is why there's always motion blur. And I don't have much zoom, which is quite necessary if I don't want to be all up in everyone's face. (And needless to say, I'm not as good a photographer as I'd like to be). I'm sure you'll be able to find many other better photos online if you scour the main montadayats. Al-imam.net has got a nice little archive of photos and video clips of the past two nights as well as from previous events.

And by the way, I've created a separate page where I will keep adding links to my posts about Ashura. You can get there by clicking here, or by using the link in the "Musalsalat" section of my sidebar on the right.

I'll try writing about the processions later, but for the meanwhile here are my photos:

Click here to see the rest of this post

Muharram 1426 (2005)

I will collect all the links to my posts related to Muharram 1426/2005 in this post. You can get here either using this permalink, or by the link in the "Musalsalat" section of my sidebar on the right.

Here are the posts:

Continue reading

  • 22-Mar-05: Backlog: Ashura day in Diraz
    And here are my last set of photos from Ashura this year (at last). These were taken on the day of Ashura. I wasn't able to go to Manama for the processions in the morning so I took some photos of the events in Diraz later in the afternoon.

    21-Mar-05: Backlog: Photos of Ashura night
    I've got a whole bunch more photos from Ashura that I still haven't yet posted. I was hoping to write a bit of commentary about Ashura in Bahrain, but I just haven't got round to it. So before my backlog gets any longer I'll share the photos now.

  • 07-Mar-05: Political aspects of Ashura
    But I think it is important to point out that there has always been something very political about Ashura. The Tragedy of Karbala is itself a story of the righteous taking a stand against the oppressors, and the commemoration of Ashura is a form of protest against what happened. In an essay titled "Red Shi'ism vs Black Shi'ism", the Iranian sociologist (and progressive Islamist) Dr Ali Shariati writes in unambiguous terms

  • 20-Feb-05: Azza in Bahrain: then and now
    I found the old photo at the top at the shaheedbh.com forum, along with two more old photos of ashura processions in Bahrain... The photos don't have a date or location... can any of you make a guess as to when or where they might have been taken?

  • 19-Feb-05: Karbala in image
    This year has been the most visible and "in-your-face" Muharram in Bahrain that I can remember. It seems that all the villages and all the matams are competing with each other by putting up the most black flags or banners, or displaying the most elaborate artwork.

  • 16-Feb-05: Karbala in verse
    Were it not for our terrorist co-religionists, I'm sure that by now Hollywood would have picked up on the story of Karbala and made a movie about it. "The Passion of Hussain" it might have been called. In my opinion, a screen rendering of the tragedy of Karbala has the potential to be far more emotional and moving (and bloody) than Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ".

  • 13-Feb-05: Hussaini processions commence
    Contrary to my post three days ago, the Hussaini processions didn't actually begin until last night. I tried taking some photos yesterday but they're not very good. My camera's flash is terrible so I don't bother with it, which is why there's always motion blur. And I don't have much zoom, which is quite necessary if I don't want to be all up in everyone's face.

  • 12-Feb-05: Karbala workshop
    I think I was about 5 or 6 years old when I first heard the story of Karbala. My dad's car needed something fixed so he took me with him to one of the garages on Budaiya Highway near Al-Qadam (there's a whole row of them). While the car was being fixed me and my dad stepped outside, and after a while he pointed to the signboard of a neighbouring garage (pictured above) and asked me if I knew what "Karbala" means.

  • 10-Feb-05: Still waiting
    All set and waiting for the first of the Muharram processions tonight.

  • 7-Feb-05: Awaiting Muharram
    The black banners and flags have been put up... and the spiderman t-shirts are being outnumbered by "Ya Hussain" t-shirts in the shop window displays.