Muhammad bin Sulman’s Platform in the Economist Describes Alternative Reality

Today the Economist published an interview with Muhammad bin Sulman, Saudi’s deputy Crown Prince. Although a lot of the interview focused on the Saudi economy, or the future, there was some discussion on the recent escalations of regional tension. I just wish to provide a few notes of incredulity on the following sections of the interview.

The Economist: Let’s focus first on the recent executions. Why did they take place now, so many years after the terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia? And why did you include a prominent shia cleric?
Muhammad bin Salman: First of all, these were sentenced in a court of law with charges related to terrorism and they went through three layers of judicial proceedings. They had the right to hire an attorney and they had attorneys present throughout each layer of the proceedings. The court doors were also open for any media people and journalists, and all the proceedings and the judicial texts were made public. And the court did not, at all, make any distinction between whether or not a person is Shi’ite or Sunni. They are reviewing a crime, and a procedure, and a trial, and a sentence, and carrying out the sentence.

Firstly, Muhammad bin Sulman does not answer the question. He does not mention why all executions took place at once, a move that one should studiously avoid if you don’t want people to call executions ‘mass killings’. He does not even mention the ‘backlog’ in executions that has been referred to before (On a related note, if anything should not be referred to as a backlog, it’s killing human beings). He also mentions that the the doors were open for the media people and journalists. I am not sure who he is referring to, but I doubt it is Saudi’s famed independent and liberal media (Hint: they don’t exist). The ‘three layers of judicial proceedings’ is about as meaningful as the seven circles of hell in a country with an incredibly draconian legal system. Amnesty International added that the “appalling” trial was “deeply flawed”, calling for the sentence to be quashed.  There is absolutely no way that the decision to execute Al-Nimr did not reach the upper echelons of Saudi government.

But these executions have provoked violent reactions in Iran. Your embassy was attacked, you’ve broken off diplomatic relations, as have Bahrain and Sudan. What will be the consequence of this escalation of regional tensions?
We view them as a strange thing, that there are demonstrations against Saudi Arabia in Iran. What is the relationship between a Saudi citizen who committed a crime in Saudi Arabia, and a decision made by a Saudi court. What has this to do with Iran? If this proves anything it proves that Iran is keen on extending its influence over the countries of the region

Muhammad bin  Sulman feigns ignorance at the Iranian reaction; ‘We view them as a strange thing’. No, you do not. No astute political leader will be surprised at the Iranian reaction, or the reaction of Shia across the world. It is absurd to think that killing a reputable and venerated religious figure for spurious reasons is not going to create a reaction. If Muhammad bin Sulman is genuinely surprised, then Saudi is clearly in the hands of people with no political radar. Indeed, Muhammad bin Sulman attempts to turn the Iranian reaction as evidence of Iran extending its influence in the region. If you discriminate against the Shia like Saudi and Bahrain do, there is little surprise that Shia everywhere will feel be particularly aggrieved by killing one of their co-religionists.

As for the sentence, ‘What is the relationship between a Saudi citizen who committed a crime in Saudi Arabia, and a decision made by a Saudi court’ – this is blatantly facetious. I wonder if Muhammad bin Sulman will say this to the EU and the US, who are pressuring for a reprieve in the case of Ali Al-Nimr. Indeed, Saudi’s legal system, and its courts, are the understandable object of scrutiny by Human Rights NGOs. Although bin Sulman’s shows feigned disbelief at the very premise of international diplomacy, Saudi have historically intervened in Bahrain to encourage death sentences. Also, how can Saudi show such awareness of militias threatening their borders but be oblivious to the impact of killing Al-Nimr?

Did you not unfairly escalate tensions by breaking off diplomatic relations?
On the contrary, we fear that they will be further escalated. Imagine if any Saudi diplomat, or one of their families or children are attacked in Iran. Iran’s position then will be much more difficult. So we prevented Iran from having to undergo such an embarrassment. The Saudi mission was set ablaze and the Iranian government is watching. If a child, or a diplomat, or their families are attacked, what could happen? Then we will have the real conflict and the real escalation.

Amazingly, Muhammad bin Sulman claims to be doing Iran a favour here. By cutting of diplomatic relations they are avoiding ‘the real conflict and the real escalation’. Apparently, uptil now, the escalation has not been real. Because when  Saudi do stuff, it’s kosher. As for Bahrain and Sudan cutting off their relations, I presume Saudi will condemn their behaviour as no Saudi diplomat or their family was in immediate danger. In this case, it’s Bahrain, Sudan, and the UAE (kind of) who are to blame. Bloody satellite states – alway escalating.

Do you consider Iran to be your biggest enemy?
We hope not.

A simple yes or no would have been clearer…

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Bahrain’s discovery of a terrorist cell linked to Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah is exceedingly punctual

As the British Ambassador to Bahrain, Harold Walker, stated in 1981; ‘Since the Iran/Iraq conflict began, there have, as you know, been virtually no visible signs of support among the Bahraini Shia for the Imam Khomeini’.1 However, since, that time, and since a coup attempt by a fringe radical Shia Islamist group in Bahrain in 1981, the Shia in Bahrain have been villified more than usual. Today, Bahrain’s Minister of the Interior announced that they had arrested six members of a cell linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah who had been planning explosions in Bahrain.2 Saudi news channel, Al Arabiya, even reported that two of those arrested had met with Hassan Nasrallah, who gave them $20,000.3 Given the recent regional escalations, the announcement is probably less designed to reflect the truth, and more to validate Saudi claims of the regional danger presented by Iran. Indeed, Bahrain has frequently attempted to draw direct connections between Iran and the unrest in Bahrain. Usually the evidence provided to support such claims is questionable, and, as this article discusses, the Bahraini government have often invoked existential threats at strategic moments in order to justify draconian security measures.

In addition to Iran, these links have been extended to other Shiʿa organizations such as Hezbollah, for example, on ‘1 May 1995, the State Security Court sentenced Hussain ‘Ali al-Tattan to 10 years’ imprisonment, Salman ʿAbd Allah al-Nashaba to five years’ imprisonment, and eight other defendants to three years’ imprisonment’,4 for being members of Hezbollah in Bahrain. Officials also publicised that Shaykh ‘Isa Qassim, based in Qom in the 1990s, guided Hezbollah in Bahrain, and that the 250-strong network was only a small part of a labyrinthine network connected to Iran.5 Similarly, TV coverage was given to a group of Shi‘a youth who said they were trained in Lebanon and called the Bahrain Hezbollah.6 In 2014, Bahrain’s foreign minister Shaykh Khalid bin Ahmad Al Khalifa said Hezbollah was behind an explosion that killed a Jordanian officer working in Bahrain,7 although given the government’s attempts to forge an Iranian link, the veracity of these claims is disputed. In 2013, Erin Kilbride, an American teacher living in Bahrain, was deported for allegedly inciting hatred against the government and ruling family. The BNA published an image of her room, replete with a Hezbollah flag hanging on the wall.8 Two days after the second anniversary of the 14th February uprising, the Ministry of the Interior announced that they had arrested eight men who were part of a terror cell with links to Iran, Lebanon and Iraq.

During the uprising, there was a string of false stories claiming boats from Iran, heading to Bahrain, had been intercepted. A Kuwaiti news portal claimed Qatari authorities had intercepted an Iranian boat smuggling weapons to Bahrain.9 (Qatar later denied the story.)10 On 21 March 2011, soon after the Uprising began, King Hamad announced that a foreign plot had been foiled with the aid of Saudi troops. A week later a Kuwaiti news site said that Qatari authorities had intercepted two Iranian ships carrying weapons to Bahrain, a story that Qatar again denied.11 On 12 November 2011, a few weeks before the release of the BICI report, the government reported that they had discovered another terror cell with links to Iran.12 A similar report was released strategically the day before the National Assembly was dissolved in August 1975. About 30 people were arrested from the National Liberation Front and the People’s Front. Soon after, the weekly paper al-Mawaqif (Points of View) published an article claiming that a ship loaded with arms was intercepted as it headed towards Bahrain. Many of those arrested also had ‘ pamphlets ready for distribution’. In order to legitimise the dissolution, the Bahraini government fabricated a coup as a pretext. The Americans noted that the coup was indeed a pretext; ‘GOB seized on ineffectual intent of certain radical elements as a justification for taking, on “security grounds”, moves it felt otherwise necessary’.13 Indeed, there was ‘no clear security threat to regime’, highlighting that even threat perception is not necessary in implementing repressive laws.14 The only difference about today’s ‘plotters’ is that they are Shi‘a rather than left-wing.15

As well as these suspicious news stories, officials such as Sameera Rajab, the Minister of State of Information, propagate bizarre myths, some of which beggar belief.16 These include mentioning that there were tunnels17 to Iran dug under the Pearl Roundabout, or that an Iranian drone had been found off the coast of Bahrain.18 19 In another instance, Sameera Rajab claimed protesters were carrying Bahraini flags with twelve points, reflecting their commitment to twelver20 Shi‘a Islam. Sameera Rajab even went on Al Jazeera holding a photo of a flag as evidence, even though the the flag in the photograph she was holding did not have twelve points. The conspiracy reached such a pitch that the Arabic translation of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report contained mention of the 12-point-flag, implying high level and influential forces were inserting anti-Iranian propaganda in an official document, and casting doubts about the integrity of the report.21 Soon after it the translated report was withdrawn. The government also announced in 2013 that the February 14th Youth Coalition were backed by Hadi Al Mudarrasi, an exiled Iraqi Cleric who had lived in Bahrain, and who was now living in Iran. Al Mudarrasi had been accused of attempting to stir up unrest in Bahrain during the 1980s.22 Other sensationalised reports include articles focusing on emotive topics like the role of women and children, claiming that they were being used as human shields in the villages. Faisal Fulad, of the Government run Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society stated to the press that ‘Iran-backed extremists are using children as human shields’.23 In a video alleging to show a police raid on a Bahrain bomb-making lab, a one thousand Iran Toman note was placed strategically on the table.24

The fetishization of the Shi‘a and Iranian threat, and the rise of sectarianism through media channels, argues Al Naqeeb, is a particular feature of tribal monarchies, that became more apparent both after the demise of Arab nationalism, to which they had all been hostile. Al Naqeeb adds that this ‘tribal consciousness’ is becoming more embedded, and facilitated with rise of new media outputs. Khuri concurs that the regime exploit the polarities inherent in political unions,25 and this is most easy along sectarian lines, which explains the emphasis on focusing efforts at stigmatization on the sectarian threat. As for the veracity of the government claims, they shall always be questionable. The BICI report contained no evidence of any Iranian threat in 2011, and evidence produced by the government shall always be tainted by the fact the government have shown no real commitment to reform post-2011.

1H.B. Walker, The Shia in Bahrain.

4Ibid.

5K. Evans, ‘Bahrain plot “is led from Qom”’, The Guardian, 12 June 1996.

6L. Bahry, May 1997.

7 Reuters, ‘Policeman killed in “terrorist” attack in Bahrain: interior ministry’, 8 December 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/08/us-bahrain-security-policeman-idUSKBN0JM25320141208 , (accessed 10 October 2015).

8Bahrain News Agency, ‘Teacher with Links to Extremists Deported for Social Media Activities and Violation of Labor Laws’, 10 August 2013, http://www.bna.bh/portal/en/news/574672, (accessed 2 November 2015).

9H. Toumi, ‘Qatar denies seizing Iran boat loaded with weapons’, Gulf News, 23 January 2013, http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/qatar/qatar-denies-seizing-iran-boat-loaded-with-weapons-1.1136351, (accessed 10 October 2015).

10Ibid.

11 J. Bladd, ‘Qatar denies seizing Iran ships carrying weapons’, Arabian Business, 28 March 2011, http://www.arabianbusiness.com/qatar-denies-seizing-iran-ships-carrying-weapons-390435.html, (accessed 10 October 2015).

12M. Singh, ‘Terror Plot Foiled’, Gulf Daily News, 13 November 2011, http://archives.gdnonline.com/NewsDetails.aspx?date=04/07/2015&storyid=317594, (accessed 10 October 2015).

13 US Embassy Manama, ‘Bahraini Political Developments: Foreign Minister’s Comments’, 11 September 1975, Wikileaks, Link hard to find? https://search.wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1975MANAMA01057_b.html

14Ibid.

15A. Khalaf, ‘A ship loaded with arms and explosives’, Al-Waqt, http://bahrainonline.org/showthread.php?t=224765, (accessed 10 October 2015).

16Lies of Samira bin Rajab, [online video],

17@busalmani, ‘نفق في الدوار يودي على ايران و نفق في عذاري يودي العكر حشى اللي عندكم ارانب مو بشر كله تحت اﻻرض#مسخره #طنبورها #نفق#البحرين #Bahrain’ 23 October 2012, https://twitter.com/busalmani/status/260673433485062145 (accessed 10 October 2015).

18Fajr al-Bahrain, ‘competition…enter and put in your information’, [web forum]https://www.fajrbh.com/vb/threads/24682/ , (accessed 10 October 2015).

19Al Wasat, ‘Iran deny sending unmanned aerial spy drone above Bahrain’, 23 May 2013, http://www.alwasatnews.com/3911/news/read/774772/1.html, (accessed 10 October 2015).

20Twelver Shiʿa Islam is the largest branch of Shiʿa Islam. The name reflects that its adherents believe in twelve divinely ordained leaders, known as the Twelve Imams.

21N. Toorani, ‘Arabic Report of BICI Withdrawn’, Gulf Daily News, 30 November 2011, http://archives.gdnonline.com/NewsDetails.aspx?date=04/07/2015&storyid=318698, (accessed 2 November 2014).

22 ‘Bahrain: Report on the carrying out of terrorism and the identity of the February 14 Movement’, [online video], 12 June 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=D_WBKYBXlY0 (accessed 10 October 2015). Translated from Arabic by the author.

23S.S. Grewal, ‘Children used as “human shields”’ Gulf Daily News, 7 June 2013, http://archives.gdnonline.com/NewsDetails.aspx?date=04/07/2015&storyid=354827

24 ‘Bahrain Propaganda Machine is Turned up to Eleven’, Marc Owen Jones, [web blog], 13 July 2012, https://marcowenjones.wordpress.com/tag/timoney/, (accessed 5 November 2015).

25F. Khuri, p. 242.

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UK Response to Execution of Shaykh Nimr Al-Nimr Woeful Indictment of British Foreign Policy

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Both the British and American response to Saudi’s executions have been criticised for being somewhat muted. However, the US response has been comparitvely damning compared to the UK’s flaccid statement.Tobias Ellwood, Britain’s Minister for the Middle East said the following:

I am deeply disturbed by the escalation in tensions in the last 24 hours in the Middle East.

The UK is firmly opposed to the death penalty. We have stressed this to the Saudi authorities and also expressed our disappointment at the mass executions.

We have discussed with the authorities in Riyadh, and expect that Ali Al-Nimr and others who were convicted as juveniles will not be executed. The UK will continue to raise these cases with the Saudi authorities.

We are deeply concerned to hear of the attack yesterday on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. It is essential that diplomatic missions are properly protected and respected.

There are those who will wish to exploit the situation and raise sectarian tensions higher. This would be against the wishes of the vast majority of those in the region. I urge all parties in the region to show restraint and responsibility.

Marginalisation of Al-Nimr’s Death

It is crucial to note that Mr. Ellwood refrained from mentioning what has been the most provactive move by the Saudis, the execution of the Shia cleric Shaykh Nimr Al-Nimr. This seems particularly absurd given the fact Ellwood explicitly condems the attack on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, which was a result of the execution of Al-Nimr. The UK’s response marginalises what is perceived as a deliberate act of Saudi aggression. Even the US noted that they were concerned that the execution of Nimr risked exacerbating Sectarian tensions in the region.

Ellwood’s last paragraph seems to be a shot at those who are reacting to the execution of Al-Nimr and, for example, attacking Saudi property or protesting in Bahrain. However, it does not explicitly note that the Saudi decision cannot have been undertaken without full knowledge that it would escalate regional tension. I would ask Mr. Ellwood whether he condemns the execution of Al-Nimr as an exploitation of the existing tensions in the region.

Deflected Issues

As predicted, the UK have focused on the broader issue of the death penalty. While the death penalty is an important problem in Saudi, the key issue here is the Saudi justice system, and the fact that its lack of transparency is leading people to lose their lives. They have also chosen to focus on Ali Al-Nimr, and the fact he is a juvenile. Why intercede on this issue but not that of Shaykh Nimr Al-Nimr. Also, have the UK asked why 47 people were executed in one go? At least the Americans recognised that Saudi needed ‘ensure fair and transparent judicial proceedings’.

It is no secret that Saudi and UK enjoy a lucrative trade relationship, especially for the UK arms industry. Recently, Cameron cumbersomely avoided John Snow’s questions on why the UK, given Saudi’s historic human rights abuses, conspired to back them joining the UN Human Rights Council. However, the UK’s unwillingness to criticise Saudi, at least publicly, is a sad indictment of UK’s foreign policy. However, this should come as no surprise, especially now the Permanent Secretary to the Foreign Office has essentially said that trade trumps human rights in British foreign policy.

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A few thoughts on how to prioritise human death coverage

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Following the spate of bomb attacks in Beirut, Baghdad, Sinai, and Paris, a number of concerns have been raised. Understandably, many people have accused politicians, global publics, and the media for focusing on the Paris Attacks  and failing to direct as much, or the same quality of attention, to what has happened elsewhere. It is impossible to doubt the truth in this, especially given that landmarks around the world, including the Cathedral here in Durham, have been lit up with the French flag. In one piece for Al Jazeera, Habib Battah writes how such sympathy for France underscores “the double standard that lurks beneath the myth of global compassion for victims of such attacks”. – the problem with this piece is that it assumes that global compassion is a myth, when many  people you speak to, if they know about other attacks, are equally compassionate (well, certainly the people I have spoken to).

It is pretty facile to equate the news culture, institutional culture, foreign policy, words of politicians, or how people light up buildings, with how a ‘global public’ empathise about incidents that they may, due to the aforementioned factors, not even be aware of. It also does not adequately reflect important issues about news bias, and also negates the idea that all news organizations are inherently biased, either nationally, linguistically, or culturally. It also does not reflect how connected people feel emotionally to certain people or proximities, and how this impacts their expressions of grief, or why this is the case. Today in the New Statesman, it is argued that audiences must take some of the blame. Does that point to general audience Europhilia? For example, the recent outcry seems to have been framed around  an Anglo – French versus Arab bias. Most of the commentary is criticism directed by Arabs about the relative attention placed upon Paris as opposed to the Arab countries effected recently by bombings. I have, for example, seen posters saying ‘Beirut’ and ‘Paris’, but  not Baghdad,  Sinai? I have also seen profile pictures with images of the French, Lebanese, Syrian, Russian and Iraqi flag.

In some instances, individual nationalism under the guise of cultural nationalism has been the driver of this indignation.  This piece, for example, is called ‘From Beirut, This is Paris: In a World That Doesn’t Care About Arab Lives’. It does not mention the bombs in Iraq that happened at a similar time? However, this does not mean that the author lacks compassion for people in Iraq or Syria. In Egypt, they projected the flags of Lebanon, Russia and France onto the pyramids.  What does this say of their priorities? Why was there no equivalent comparable global outpouring of grief for the Russians, they are white after all, and more of them died than in France? Is Russia considered the global south? Is it because its role in the anti-jihadi coalition is somewhat contested? Or is it simply because those writing it are reflecting their own cultural bias in the form or Arabness, prompted by an Orientalist news-gathering agenda spurned by the unjust global scrutiny of Muslims.

Less complaints have been issued from the peripheries of Arab or Europe. In Sudan, 15 migrants were shot and killed at the Egyptian border yesterday.  On Friday 13th, 22 people were killed in a village in the Central African Republic. 21 were killed in a landslide in China yesterday. Also, is the criticism of bias only applicable when similar events are undertaken in close proximity by similar agencies? Are these valid events for the comparative criticism? Embedded within this are issues of not just who are considered more worthy victims, but national, regional and ethical hierarchies that go beyond a simple global south and north divide.

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What are the solutions?

Beneath all this, there should be an inherent assumption that all human lives are equal. A perfectly good one, and a suitable foundation for determining a way forward. Yet how do we do this? Do we limit coverage of every significant event to a limit amount of hours/articles per day? If so, how do you determine what is significant, over a certain amount of deaths, say 50+? Or do we  create a hierarchy in which the significance of an incident is calculated not only by the number of people killed, but also the divergence of ethnicities, nationalities, sexualities, and religions presented? How about we measure news time and content by attributing an equal value to every human life, and thus each human life lost would occupy a certain amount of coverage? If so, then incidents of colossal magnitude, such as genocide, deaths due to global warming, or malarial deaths, would occupy the headlines for decades. Is this a bad thing, or is important to be reminded? How would you determine this algorithm that orders such stories, and when do you determine when a death should slip into oblivion?  How do you categorise death in more nebulous categories?  Should a news site be created to aggregate the number of deaths throughout the past 50 or so years and update them in real-time according to the rough manner in which it was caused? What about other, non-human death issues, such as the impact on species due to climate change? Should we be so human centric, or should the purpose of this endeavor be to create empathy to all living things?

Of course the challenges are voluminous, but if the issue is the value of human life, and people attribute this recognition of this value to the attention in the news, then news coverage and newsworthiness needs to be reconsidered, at least for global news channels, which have more of a responsibility in this regard. Regardless, people’s empathy for those who died in France should not be seen through a nationalist prism,  because let’s face it, the victims were of multiple nationalities and ethnicities. Also, those people who died in France are no less worthy of grief, nor should their worth be determined by how the world chooses to mourn after they are dead, and not in a position to control it. Of course there are innumerable complexities, but as Jamiles Lartey says, we on the left should ‘not minimize 1 tragedy to raise the profile of another, or participate in this kind of attention hijacking’.

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Video Shows Police Tear Gassing Children Playing Football in #Bahrain

On the afternoon of 19th September, in the #Bahrain village of Malkiya, a video emerged appearing to show security forces firing onto a football pitch full of children. These children were reportedly from the Malkiya Club. Details are scarce atm, but the video can be seen below.

Photos emerged too of the incident.

[The caption reads: No escape for the children playing football, who were gassed by the regime’s mercenaries]

For those unfamiliar with #Bahrain, this apparent unprovoked attack is nothing new, and the country’s security forces have often acted in a vindictive fashion to those communities (like Malkiya) with a perceived heavy opposition presence.

It is possible that the security forces were punishing those youth of the ‘Battalion’ of the Martyr Abdulredha Buhmaid, who marched yesterday through the village with a sign saying ‘We are with the resistance’. The Battalion is named after Abdulredha Bumhad, who was dead by regime security forces on February 18th 2011. Buhmaid was from Malkiya.

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Trolls Attempt to Hijack #BahrainUprising Twitter Event

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An example of me being trolled, albeit in an aesthetically pleasing way.

It’s been a year of many firsts for me, yet the familiarity of what happened today reminded me that some rarely change. In a Twitter Event organized by Zed Books on Bahrain, Trolls, many of whom are familiar to the vetern Bahrain  observer attempted to inundate the hashtag by providing evidence to defame the entire Bahrain opposition are violent, religious and radical. For example, see the image below [graphic]

This tactic of propaganda and disinformation has been prevalent since 2011. As we describe in Bahrain’s Uprising,

A number of studies noted unusual patterns of tweeting prior to bouts of government repression. One group of bloggers noted that a ‘large group of organized troll accounts were created by the government. They then flooded twitter with a disinformation campaign. Once violence broke out the Troll Army vanished’. While there is no evidence that the above is the regime, or companies operating on the regime’s behalf, it is certainly an unusual pattern of tweeting. A report by Freedom House adds, ‘hundreds of accounts suddenly emerged to collectively harass and intimidate online activists, commentators, and journalists who voiced support for protests and human rights’.

The accounts that engage in this are almost always anonymous, with the exception of gloriahere, who briefly hosted a rather disturbing (read creepy) show on Bahrain. Their activity on the #BahrainUprising hashtag began, hardly by coincidence, an hour or two before the Event was about to start. Prior to that, the only real activity on that hashtag had been from early 2014.

Also present was the anti-opposition @LexBirch, who won the most distinguished expat award in Bahrain in 2012 (awared by the government controlled Information Affairs Authority). Despite being anonymous, the account appeared to be rewarded for Tweeting against the opposition.

Yet Bahrain trolls are so notorious, they have been singalled out by internationalist columnists and journalists. In particular, one Bahraini Twitter troll (7areghum) was said by an independent panel of legal experts to have broken international law for putting people’s lives in danger . They have issued death threats, threats of rape, and engaged in rampant homophobia. Perhaps more amusingly, they have attempted to defame activists (or bemuse them) with cariactures…See below!

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I have a donut turban.

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I don’t even play the cymbals.

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Check out the book collection…

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New Book on #Bahrain

Fan Art

Fan Art

Hi all. Apologies for the absence. Just been finishing editing a new book with Ala’a Shehabi on Bahrain. It comes out this September! The book is published by Zed Books, and will be availble in paperback, hardback, and ebook format. It’s available on Amazon UK and Amazon US, and other booksellers. In the US, it’s distributed by University of Chicago Press.

It features contributions by myself Abdulhadi Khalaf, Amal Khalaf, Ala’a Shehabi, John  Horne, Zoe Holman,  Luke Bhatia, Ali Al-Jallawi (translated by Ayesha Saldanha) and Ibrahim Sharif. Here’s the blurb.

Amid the extensive coverage of the Arab uprisings, the Gulf state of Bahrain has been almost forgotten. Fusing historical and contemporary analysis, Bahrain’s Uprising seeks to fill this gap, examining the ongoing protests and state repression that continues today.Drawing on powerful testimonies, interviews and conversations from those involved, this broad collection of writings by scholars and activists, provides a rarely heard voice of the lived experience of Bahrainis, describing the way in which a sophisticated society defined by a historical struggle, continues to hamper the efforts of the ruling elite to rebrand itself as a liberal monarchy

It feels great to have contributed with so many people on a topic that is so dear to my heart. Thank you everyone who has been reading my blog, tweets, or articles. Hopefully, you will enjoy the book.

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