Bahrain: the Opposition is not Always Right
By Mahmoud Al Abed
English News Editor
After the landslide public approval of political reforms in Bahrain, the notion that political opposition is always right is a stereotype proved to be wrong. As such, the dogma should be in question for any country in the Arab World seeking to democratize itself.
So far so good, and things are going smoothly there while the archipelago is in the process of turning into an oasis of democracy, expect for some odd voices who, apparently, try to find a place under the sun after their reason d’etre has ceased to exist.
The emir, Sheikh Hamad, has put an end to decades of his people’s suffering by abolishing state security and emergency laws which have strangulated public freedom for 26 years, in addition to his previous steps he had taken, which included emptying the prisons of political convicts.
The emir virtually left nothing for the opposition to say. He pledged that parliament would retain full legislative powers, the charter would not replace the constitution, and workers and students suspended in the anti-government troubles would be allowed to return to their jobs and faculties.
Manama has also given passports to 1000 stateless residents, mostly Shiites, and promised to grant nationality to the remaining 9,000.
Sheikh Hamad even intervened to authorize the entry into Bahrain of the families of two opposition members and an exile from Denmark, after they had been held up at Manama airport for 24 hours.
Although Shiite opposition leader Sheikh Abdul Amir al-Jamri decided at the last minute not to boycott the referendum and later commented that the 98.4 percent national consensus was a positive indication of the confidence of the people in the reformist politics of the emir, a statement of an opposition group in London indicated that some still refuse to leave their ditch, even when the enemy is not there.
In a TV interview, a leader of the so-called Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain had nothing to say but to poke the ashes of the past and talk about the torture in prisons and the suffering of the people. He even named security officers he accused of torturing his compatriots.
Wake up and smell the coffee. Change is there and people are happy. At least, give the emir a chance to prove how serious he is about bettering Bahrainis’ lives.
He said that because the abolishment of the martial law has not gone through constitutional channels, the emir might change his mind any minute and retract his decision.
Well, the opposition figure knows well that any ruler in the region can dissolve the parliament, change the constitution, forge election results and go around boasting how democratic his regime is.
The man also knows that changes when brought about by people’s blood and sacrifices are more deeply rooted than lip-service laws granted by a “generous” ruler as cosmetics to his tyranny.
The people of Bahrain have paid the price already, and their young leader has positively responded to their demands. What is needed now is a new spirit of teamwork based on the equality the charter has promised.
The people of Bahrain has gained self confidence that will enable them to say “no” any time they feel that what they have gained is at risk; nonetheless, they do not need the opposition to remind them of a past they want to forget as they are heading towards a bright future.