The Movement in Bahrain

He runs impulsively and courageously, carrying his country’s flag as if he were carrying his own dream. He looks young, athletic, and fearless. He jumps over a bridge’s fence and runs to the place where many of his countrymen were killed not long ago. Then he raises his flag and waves it high, trying to avoid the policemen running to stop him. He was standing in that same spot six months ago, carrying that same flag and living that same dream. Today, his dream is besieged, just like the spot where he is standing. Soon, dozens of riot police rush out from four vehicles, surround him, take him down, and confiscate his flag. There, his punishment awaits him—a brutal beating by the police, who then take him away.

His name is Mohamed Ali Alhaiki, an ordinary young man who was the talk of Bahrain few days ago. On Saturday, Mohamed—who was fired from his job after participating in the anti-government protests—decided to carry the Bahraini flag and walk with it right to the middle of Pearl Roundabout in the center of the capital Manama.

Mohamed’s symbolic action, which was filmed and posted on YouTube, will be remembered by hundreds of thousands of Bahrainis who have participated in pro-democracy protests since February 14th. They will remember this like they remember Ali Jawad Al-Sheikh, the 14-year-old boy who was killed few days earlier on the morning of Eid—one of two days of celebration for Muslims—while he was participating with his friends in pro-democracy protest in his village.

Although protests have continued on the streets of Bahrain every day since the Saudi-led crackdown on Pearl Roundabout last March, there has been very little coverage of the Bahraini movement in the international media.

There are several reasons for this. First, six months after the movement started, it’s clear to Bahraini activists that the United States is not in favor of any changes. The US wants to protect its interests in Bahrain—most importantly, securing the Navy’s Fifth Fleet—and avoid any direct confrontation with Saudi Arabia, which is calling the shots in Bahrain right now. The US’s posture has played a major role in marginalizing Bahrain in the eyes of the international media.

Second, the Bahraini government has successfully killed the movement’s presence internationally. It has used several tactics to achieve this, including a ban preventing international media from entering the country and ensuring that many local journalists are jailed, tortured, or fired from their jobs.

Moreover, the establishment of a truth commission by Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, together with the government’s call for a national dialogue, created an illusion that things are quiet now in Bahrain and that it’s just a matter of time until everything will be fixed. However, observers of the country know that the national dialogue was a failure, and that the truth commission has no authority to change anything on the ground.

Lastly, events in the rest of the Middle East have overshadowed the struggle on this tiny island, which has a population of around one million. For the mainstream media, the 34 people killed in this struggle, including four who died in jail after being tortured, are not as significant as the thousands being killed in Syria and Libya, regardless of the fact that this is a very large number for such a small country.

There have been several attempts by the international media to bring the case of the Bahraini people alive again, especially through a series of recent documentaries on Al Jazeera English. Last month it aired “Shouting in the Dark,” which beautifully captured the essence of the Bahraini movement and got a lot of attention after it sparked clashes between the governments of Bahrain and neighboring Qatar, which owns Al Jazeera.

Today, seven months after it all started in Bahrain, the movement is still alive and active, as well as more organized. Even when the international media is not watching, people like Mohamed Ali Alhaiki are breaking through fences to raise their own flag. They know, after all, that it’s not just a flag; it’s a dream which they are determined to turn into reality.

Nada Alwadi is a Bahraini journalist, writer and researcher. She has been working in print media since 2003 covering politics and human rights issues in Bahrain and the Middle East. Nada holds a Master in Mass Communication from the University of Maryland, where she was a Humphrey/Fulbright fellow in 2009. Nada covered the recent crackdown in Bahrain for several international media including USA Today.

This article originally ran on Waging Nonviolence.

More articles by:
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It