Bahrain, the pearl of the Persian Gulf, is exploding in protest. Unlike Egypt, their uprising has a Shia and Sunni twist. 70% of Bahrainis are Shiite, yet they’re ruled by Sunnis. What happens if you’re a regular Shiite Bahraini when your King, government, and police are Sunni? You’re not even considered for the good state jobs. Want to be a police officer? Forget it. They’ll give that to a Syrian or Jordanian Sunni before you. If you are a political activist, you’re special. You get imprisonment and torture.
Bahrain, inspired by Egypt, are voicing their demands. Thousands took to the streets. They don’t want a complete overthrow of the government. They want changes. Release of the political prisoners. Economic equality when it comes to housing and jobs. Their chant in the streets? “No Sunnis, no Shiites. We are all Bahrainis.”
I’m really pulling for Bahrain as it holds a special place in my passport. It’s a tiny country with a rich ancient history. I loved my R&R vacation there. When I wasn’t pool side, I enjoyed wandering through their National Museum. The Tree of Life, a huge mesquite tree in the middle of the desert with no apparent water source, was really neat.
King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa should thank his lucky stars they didn’t want to ship him off into exile. He went on national TV to offer condolences for the young men who were martyred for the cause. He promised changes and an investigation into the protesters’ deaths. In light of what’s going on in the Middle East, I am very hopeful for Bahrain. Authoritarian leaders throughout the region, like King Hamad, are afraid. They should be.