Thursday, January 11, 2007

Saddam in Bahrain

Two weeks before my arrival, Bahrain is showing more strains related to the Iraq War in the form of debate over an Arab nationalist association's commemoration of Saddam Hussein's death :
"A Shiite scholar residing in the Zinj and Bilad Al Qadim suburb of the capital Manama where the the Nationalist Democratic Rally Association (NDRA) is located said that it should transfer its headquarters to a location where it had supporters.

"'They should look for another locality where they can exercise their freedom of expression. Just as they feel they are free to receive condolences on Saddam Hussain's death, our rejection of their presence in our neighbourhood is also part of our freedom of expression,' the scholar who wished to remain anonymous said in a statement.

"'We are still aching from the tragedies caused by Saddam to our people in Iraq and Kuwait, and we will resort to peaceful means to make the association change its address,' he said.

"But NDRA deputy secretary-general Hassan Al A'ali rejected the calls, saying that they were steeped in sectarian overtones.

"'We resent the veiled threats and the sectarian insinuation that seeks to divide Bahrain alongside political and religious lines. We call upon the government to address such calls which come at the heels of the Molotov attack on our premises,' Al A'ali said."

Oh, did I mention the Molotov cocktail? In any case, the anonymous Shi'ite cleric seemed to carefully avoid sectarian baiting by including Sunni Kuwait in the list of places where Saddam had caused tragedy to "our people," which in context seems to refer to all Arabs. Sadly, tensions are too high these days in both Iraq and Bahrain for that to be enough, and I suspect Al A'ali has a bit of anti-Shi'ite bias in him that sees them as opposed to a presumably pure Arab Sunnism.


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