Nabeel Rajab: “Want democracy, justice and equality”

Developing Just Leadership

Catherine Shakdam

Rabi' al-Thani 11, 1436 2015-02-01

Opinion

by Catherine Shakdam (Opinion, Crescent International Vol. 43, No. 12, Rabi' al-Thani, 1436)

The people of Bahrain will settle for nothing less than justice, equality and democracy and they will continue their peaceful struggle despite the regime’s provocations.

Although four years have passed since the people of Bahrain first took to the streets to protest the dictatorial rule of Hamad bin ‘Isa Bani Khalifa, the people’s cries for just representation, freedom and equality have not lost their intensity in the intervening period. If anything, the people’s resolve before the suffocating weight of tyranny has become stronger.

At such a time when the regime is so obviously using every ounce of energy to crush the revolutionaries’ aspirations, stooping as low as cracking down on prominent members of the opposition as well as religious leaders in order to instill fear and break the opponents’ will, Bahrainis have held on to their beliefs, determined to achieve their dream for genuine freedom.

But if the Bahrainis have remained true to their aspirations of self-determination, intent on honoring their vow of nonviolence, the illegitimate ruler Hamad has now found himself traversing a dangerous road indeed, one moreover, paved by the takfiri terrorists. Just as Iraq and Syria fell into the trap of terror, prisoners of a web, which the Saudi-Wahhabis and Salafis helped engineer, Bahrain has become yet another terror haven, a hub for wannabe takfiri (ISIS) terrorists, right in the heart of the Persian Gulf region.

Prominent rights activist Nabeel Rajab was arrested for speaking the truth, even if disturbing, at the end of September 2014. In remarks on Twitter, Rajab said that Bahrain had dispatched troops to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside the takfiri terrorists, proof that terror radicals are mere pawns in the hands of Saudi-backed Arabian regimes across the region. “Many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism&#ISIS came from security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator,” said Nabeel Rajab (@NABEELRAJAB) on September 28, 2014. Within days of publication, Rajab was summoned and subsequently incarcerated by the regime.

In October 2014, the Bahrain Interior Ministry said Rajab had been summoned because of what it said were derogatory tweets aimed at defaming the government. “The general directorate of anti-corruption and economic and electronic security summoned Nabeel Ahmed ‘Abd al-Rasool Rajab on Wednesday [October 1, 2014] to question him about the tweets posted on his Twitter account that denigrated government institutions,” it said in a statement.

While the regime has tried to discredit Rajab’s comments, alleging that the rights activist was merely looking to generate controversy in order to further his political agenda against the monarchy, the truth is that Rajab was shining an uncomfortable light on Manama’s dealings and collusion with terror.

In September 2014, a video uploaded on YouTube featured Bahraini soldiers-turned-ISIS militants calling on their fellow nationals to come and join the terror army. One of the men identified on the video is Mohammed al-Binali, a former police guard in one of Bahrain’s most infamous prisons, where torture of detainees is rampant and is systematically practiced. Mohammed comes from a prominent family, the Binali clan in Bahrain, which is closely affiliated to the Khalifa ruling regime. His cousin, Turki al-Binali, who goes by the alias Abu-Sufyan al-Salami (al-Salami refers to the tribe of Sulaim in Arabia), is a high ranking preacher in ISIS.

The Binalis have a longstanding connection with ISIS. In May 2014, Turki al-Binali boasted that another of his cousins had died while fighting alongside the terrorists. While the Bahraini regime may proclaim it knew nothing of al-Binali’s entanglement with ISIS, it appears that Bani Khalifa’s willingness to stoke sectarian flames is what animated and fed the fire of the terrorists, playing directly into the hands of those who have worked to defile the true meaning of Islam. Whether by omission or commission, Bani Khalifa bears direct responsibility for the rise of radicalism in the island kingdom, just as Rajab had warned.

In the face of extreme hardship, the people of Bahrain have answered with fortitude.

As Mark Lynch noted in a report for Foreign Policy in February 2011, “The Bahraini regime responded not only with violent force, but also by encouraging a nasty sectarianism in order to divide the popular movement and to build domestic and regional support for a crackdown.” It is this desire to wield sectarianism as a weapon of war that now threatens to engulf the entire region and lay waste the very fabric of the Muslim world, tearing communities apart where solidarity should be an urgent priority.

Behind all the mayhem stands Bani Saud, the very family Hillary Clinton, then-US Secretary of State, designated in 2009 as “the world's largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups.” While Western media have seldom mentioned that Bahrain’s struggle may be related to the masses’ desire for their fundamental rights, playing puppets to their sponsors, Bahrainis have wrestled against an insidious enemy, one whose will has been bent on breaking theirs. Yet Bahrainis have held their ground, unwavering in their desire to fulfill their pledge of nonviolence.

Therein lies the Bahraini revolution’s true power. In the face of extreme hardship, the people of Bahrain have answered with fortitude. Before hatred and persecution, they have presented a united front answering evil not with more evil but repelling it with something better, as both the Qur’an and the noble Messenger of Allah (swt) advise.

And while the shackles of tyranny might appear difficult to break at present, the will of the people will prove irresistible still.

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Rabi' al-Thani 13, 1439 2018-01-01
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