July 7, 2011

Bahrain's Retribution

I have always thought of my work to be trivial. Whether I have put together something big or small, unique or absurd, genuine or purposeless, or even if it had all the elements together so it provided the best results ever. I always find what I do trivial. Only today I understood why I did and continue to find everything I do in life to be trivial. It is simply because I believe in a better purpose and result of everything I do. Whether it was a small walk to clear my mind, a small talk with a friend to try to help, or even letting go of my guards with friends to help myself feel better; I always want it to be for a good purpose in life that will benefit those who surround me.

This year has brought a lot of surprises to a lot of people around the world that many doubters started to identify with an "end" that is coming. I found it very ironic that the year when clocks started working in reverse and predictions of tribal heritage we have come upon tell us that our calenders will no longer be of use, is the year when all hell broke loose around the world, and I do not mean the metaphoric hell. Look at it from my point of you with one question in mind: Does the purpose justify the means?

A few months ago, people in Bahrain have taken upon themselves to grab the opportunity to focus international's media's attention to their constitutional demands and hold it by the horns. With that, they understood the hardship of the Bahraini regime in caparison to other Arab nations that had their own revolutions this year, some of which have paid off and other still pave the way to a brighter future. Many have died, protesters, policemen, young men, women, and passerbys. The two sides, the government and the opposition have stated their demands which have been affected by the constant reactions from one side to the other leading us to the current situation today.

What started as peaceful demonstrations in February, which due to the loss of young men, spread the flame of the fire of democracy that has been ignited decades ago due to the lack of freedoms, especially of expression, in Bahrain. What followed was an outrage of a lot of new factions of the Bahraini community that was horrified by what could this lead to, baring in mind the current revolutions in the region. The people declared civil disobedience and the war of principles was then unleashed. The GCC's Peninsula Shield Force entered the country following the declaration of the State of Emergency by king Hamad Alkhalifa. To not make my narration long, as the "stories" differ today, I will get to the current circumstances.

Nowadays, oppositions leaders, members, journalists, reporters, doctors, nurses, students, youth and individuals are locked up in Bahrain prisons and sentences range from jail sentences to execution. The king called for a national dialogue that will take place in a few days time, removed the Peninsula Shield Force troops from the country and ended the State of Emergency the beginning of June. Along with "promises" of reform and retribution, students were expelled from the University of Bahrain and the Bahrain Polytechnic before and after the king decided to lay the platform for dialogue. My own sister was a victim of that and the reasoning behind the decision to expel her was that she called for overthrowing the government and supported the anti-govertnment protests, this was the sentence by the military officials who interrogated most of the expelled students. I mention my sister's case not for sympathy or because of causes of anger, I simply do that to revoke the lies that have been spreading around.

During the time of the revolution, the government has constantly and still does claim that the reason behind the revolution is to overthrow the government anticipating and Iranian Islamic Republic and that protesters are Shiites which further supports this accusations. Many have been sentenced to life sentences, prison time and a few to be executed due such charges that have no bases. I say no bases because the reality of the matter is s follows: The majority of the people in Bahrain are Shiites, and no Sawsan Alshaer I do not have a statistic but I actually live among the people and all Bahrainis agree to this reality. The government is Sunni. Thus, the clash exists. However, the clash is not between a Sunni government and a Shiite opposition, the conflict is a matter of constitutional reform. Yes, people have called of overthrowing the government and carried religious symbols but that does not conclude the case to the demand of the Iranian state's rule over Bahrain and it will never do. All that it is, is the simple reflection of th ereligious identity of som eindividuals and their deseprate demand for a better constitution and a better government, demands called for throughout the globe.

Going back to my sister's case, the reason I used her example is because she is a Sunni, I am a Sunni and I have other Sunni friends who do not believe in the measures that the government with the Peninsula Shield Force troops in oppressing the struggle.

During the conflict, I have come to really realize the true relationships I have had amongst the thousands of people I know from Bahrain, some call themselves, family others friends  and the usual acquaintances. The reason why I invest this personal aspect of my life is because it is the reality of the situation now and the real problem facing my nations rather than simply the regime and its opposers. in the last few weeks, my doubts and fears have come to life. I no longer have as many friends, most of which kept the matter to themselves and resigned to calling me traitor and firing shots of resentment and hatred towards me. However, I have also gotten support messages respecting the risk I take, which is not much at all compared to what my friends and acquaintances who stand for a better constitution, human rights and freedoms have done. My only risk was to repost, retweet, trying to get students in America interested in what is going on in my country, sharing my ideas and ideals over the internet. Due to that, I have been threatened, blocked, removed, cursed, called a Shiite, which some thinks of as an insult, and is probably waiting the same fate as my sister and a lot of brave young individuals who actually believe in the metaphors they quote, the books they read and the philosophies they individually debate. I am no brave at all for the simple fact that I currently reside outside of my beloved country but those who truely know me understand the length I go for if there is an ideal I strongly believe in. This was not at all a problem for me, to be hated and attacked; what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. What is the real dilemma, is what my family is putting me through. For some reason, I thought that the choice is between my education and career in Bahrain as well as elsewhere verses my political, social and moral ideals. Reality check, this is the easiest choice as I will always choose the latter. The troublesome choice is to choose between my family, friends along with my career and my ideals. Guess what, at this moment I have chosen the latter, easier and faster I have come to this conclusion. I do not give that credit to the ideals I believe in or to the friends who have shown grave bravery in standing up against all oppression, the credit goes to my family.

for the past two weeks, the number of times my family has called me is more than the total of the times they have called me throughout the past academic year at Juniata College. The conversations are repetative, bothersome, depressing and not at all filled with genuine concenr. Also, the progression of these conversation is nonexistance. My family considers both my sister and myself as traitor to the country because of what I echoed and expressed, and what my sister was concerned with. Their justification is their ignorance of what was it really that we have done to gain so much hatred from friends and strangers, being enlisted as traitors on teh internet and ofcourse the reasoning behind my sister's expelling.

Realizing that I lost the most valuable element that fueled me with energy in my life has woken me up from a very long siesta. I never cared what strangers thought of me, came to understand that some friends ought to step on you and backstab you at some point, and have already established a definition to the essance of my life. Nonetheless, my family was an integral part of my motivation. Now, as it is an obstacle, I came to peace at accepting the fact that the reality of the matter it is the relationships you have are those who you can count on and not the pre-established, socially defined ones.

So, having so many choices to make, so many paths of possibilities open in front of me, my conscience takes over to lead me to my life goal that I have repeated since I was thirteen years old. I want to change my country to a better place for my family and friends to build their lives at peace.

Bahrain stand today dealing with sectarianism that did not pre-exist in the measures and hatred it possesses today. Friends and families torn apart for the sole hate of one's religious, political, social and personal dreams. This wound will never heal no matter what people say and I honestly rather it does not because unless we can achieve a promising change in Bahrain, nothing else will matter.

Miles and miles away from my beloved country where I loved and grew up with the most amazing people, have seen promises by my government and my current king fall short as did such promises in teh past, and with the growing gaps drawn in relationships; I want to let the world know that people who will die for this country's future exist for a reason, to see a change happen not for their generation, or their childrens' generation but for your granchildrens' future.

Mohammed Bunafoor was my grandfather and it is because of him that I met people like Abdulrahman Alnoaimi and Ebrahim Sharif who have shown me love for Bahrain that exceeds description. The hero of my life today tells me "Why are you saying these things? Don't go near this person or that. Don't post anything that would jeopardize your academic future. You're grandmother is worried that you are brainwashed by people who support what is going on." What she does not know is that it is her who raised me with eternal love and respect for freedoms, difference in opinion, the possbility of change and the idea of exceeding my own expectations. I do not choose to follow anyone, I never did. Bunafoor, Alnoaimi and Sharif are people I highly respect along with many other but they never did, do not and will never define my choices or my life.

My message here is:
If you believe in something, a change in circumstances does not change the heart of your belief.