By Catherine Shakdam*
Bahrain today stands still on the edge of a cliff, torn in between its people desire to see manifest peaceful change, and one increasingly despotic monarchy whose purpose has been to crush, stifle and oppress Freedom to better claim control.
Bahrain today no longer offers a reflection of popular will … it hasn’t in great many decades! Bahrain today has become but an extension of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – yet another Wahhabized client-state of the infamous House of Saud, a fascist political construct built on sectarianism; yet another open scar on a region whose democratic dreams were betrayed to the greed of imperialism.
And if Bahrainis long held true to their commitment to peace in the face of systematic persecution, al-Khalifa’s last betrayal, its attack against Sheikh Isa Qassim could prove an offense they will neither forgive, nor forget. However strong a people’ s desire to give in to.
An island lost in between two political giants: Iran and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain has been locked in a vicious tug of war in between its people’s yearning for political self-determination, and its elite’s desire to yield power and fortune. A speck on the map, Bahrain’s political tragedy has been defined by its geography.
For all its apparent insignificance, Bahrain remains too much of a geopolitical jewel, and a US military asset for Western powers to ever consider letting go … democracy here holds not a candle to empires’ hegemonic thirst.
How else explain Britain’s ongoing weapon dealings with al-Khalifa?
How else explain Western capitals’ silence over the many grave human rights violations committed by Manama against its people?
But Bahrain’s real struggle has been not against imperialism … it is Saudi theocratic construct which has blotted its skies with radicalism miasmas. The unspoken victim of a very Wahhabist occupation, the kingdom island has seen its faith ridiculed, its places of worship desecrated, and its clerics sacrificed to the pyres of Riyadh’s inquisition.
Alone against the brutal hypocrisy of the Western imperial complex Bahrain resists still … only now Resistance has taken on a new character altogether. Where millions said to be ready to sacrifice themselves to the regime if it meant a better future for their children, al-Khalifa’s latest attack against Bahrain’s most prominent religious figure: Sheikh Isa Qassim ignited a fire which could soon consume the very seat of al-Khalifa’s monarchy.
And though Bahrainis have grown accustomed to pain and suffering in that Shiites have always felt the bite of injustice on their neck, there are some affronts not even the most restraint of people could be asked to weather without betraying themselves.
If peace stands an ideal, peace cannot be forged in the betrayal of one’s faith – those lessons I believe were taught to us during the caliphates of Imam al-Hasan, and Imam al-Husayn.
Peace can be brokered if in the service of the people, but when it is God’s commands which stand to be sullied, then Resistance becomes a duty none can, and should run away from. In truth, if spent in the service of God, both peace and war are the expressions of Resistance.
That lesson I believe we learn courtesy of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the father of the Islamic Revolution.
As of June 2016, Bahrain might abandon its peaceful ways to better reclaim its truth. And though we can expect mainstream media to argue against violence by advocating “diplomacy” – how long can we expect a people to live under the yoke of Terror.
Under Riyadh’s theocratic gaze, Bahrain was made together a prisoner, and a slave.
Silenced, shackled, brutalized, Bahrainis could not suffer through their cleric’s humiliation – he, who embodies the nation’s very soul.
Through Sheikh Qassim it is Bahrain’s pride which reflects back. The guardian of a tradition, al-Khalifa Royals have rejected as an apostasy, Bahrain will not allow for its faith to be trampled over … That, Bahrain cannot, and will not do!
For if pro-democracy activists were willing to erode at the state through quiet opposition in order to save the people from unnecessary upheaval, Manama shattered such hopes when it willingly slayed any hope of a political breakthrough by waving repression’s flag.
The government's decision to revoke the citizenship of Sheikh Isa Qassim could prove a costly mistake for al-Khalifa wavering monarchy.
Following decades of abuses, unlawful arrests, raids, desecrations of holy grounds, and one systematic sectarian crackdown against the Shiite community, Bahrain drew a line at its cleric.
It drew a line at the one figure, who most of all, and longest of all, has spoken Freedom in the face of Oppression, and taught Truth amid injustice.
Today al-Khalifa seeks war within its borders. War as it were might soon break out as soldiers have encircled Sheikh Qassim’s hometown – a move many have understood will be followed by his kidnapping.
In its arrogance though al-Khalifa forgot that for all its military might, real power remains still with the people, and today the people stand with Sheikh Qassim.
As men have stood across the ages, it is always Freedom and Justice which they have cried for, bled for, and argued over. I would venture and say that it is our thirst for Freedom and our common yearning for Justice which have defined our very humanity – the one constant which has bound us together, the one thread which has permitted us to relate to one another across our many differences.
Beyond creed, ethnicity, ideology, and social status, it is always our innate understanding of Freedom and Justice which together set us apart, and united us. It is commitment to those principles which have inspired Bahrainis, and sustained the Resistance movement.
Whatever evil Manama will rise will pale in comparison to Bahrain’s resolve.
* Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements. The Director of Programs at the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, Catherine is also the co-founder of Veritas Consulting.