*The title of this post is very misleading as I only touch up on a handful of ideas but it makes the post sexy enough to get clicked on, and I apologize if you were expecting 1000 ideas!
Last night, our King HH King Hamad issued a decree of doling BD1000 to every Bahraini family (over 120,000 families) and giving people the choice for more financially capable families to forward their BD1000 to more needy families. Now regardless of the political meaning of the timing of this “Makrama” with both the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions bearing fruit and succeeding in toppling their dictators and Bahrain’s own “Day of Wrath” on #Feb14 in the coming days, and its effects in the days ahead, I thought I’d like to share some ideas on how to spend the BD1000 on things better than a trip to Bangkok/Najaf/Medina/Mecca/Dubai etc. or paying off credit card debts and “Jam3eeyas”.
I think this BD1000 or at least some part of it should be used to create some good in our neighbourhoods and society in general, whether through charity works or supporting local businesses (CUPCAKES DO NOT COUNT), so I’m going to list a few ideas I have and please feel free to add yours!
- SAVE!: I find it very shocking that many of my newly married friends hardly save any money for themselves or for their children and end up maxing credit cards and taking loans for emergencies or plain stupid spending.
- Zakat: pretty much connected with saving and also a good way to break into the habit (not forgetting obligation) of giving out Zakat and helping out the needy.
- Supporting Entrepreneurs: The Bahrain Vision 2030 is all about encouraging entreprenuership and I think any aspiring entrepreneur would love to get BD1000 to help achieve their dreams so find one or be one!
- Community projects: I think people can come together and start up community project without the hassle and ineffectiveness of going to their local Municipality Council and demand certain developments or projects. These could be as small as chipping in to get a plot of land and divide it into carparks in more crowded areas and neighbourhoods or something as profound and life saving as setting up a charity clinic to give routine treatments to Sickle Cell patients especially during the winter when SMC has its worst bed shortages for Sickle Cell patients.
- Re-igniting anti-sectarianism campaign Just Bahraini and spreading it on a wider scale. More badges, more events and more awareness to fight one of Bahrain’s biggest problems!
If you do get the BD1000 spend it wisely and investing it in good will only reap the greatest of rewards..Happiness!
North Africa has greeted 2011 with a big banner with “CHANGE” written in blood and courage, with the martyr Mohammed Bouazizi manifesting the burning flames of frustration and rage in his heart all over his body, sparking a popular revolution and turning Ben Ali’s regime into ashes. Those winds of change carried the warmth of freedom to the Nile and Egypt since January 25th has erupted with massive unprecedented protests in their brave brave quest to “un-president” Husni Mubarak and dissolve the Emergency Law that has crippled Egypt over the last three decades.
People around the world are glued to Al-Jazeera on their TVs and Twitter and Facebook on their laptops and mobiles. Despite the clamping down of Twitter and Facebook from the 2nd day of protests and the unbelievable steps of closing down the internet and mobile phone networks entirely on Friday January 28th, social networks have been alight with second-by-second developments from people on the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and Suez via faxing and landline calls later tweeted on their behalf.
As we bid farewell to January, February also has dates set for Yemen (February 3rd) and Bahrain (February 14th). I would like to just focus on Bahrain in the rest of this post.
A few days ago, a Facebook Page and Twitter account popped up calling for a Bahraini Revolution on February 14th. The significance of the date is that it was the day when Bahrainis voted on the National Charter referendum in 2001 and only to find it “modified” a year later after Bahrain officially turned to a constituional monarchy. The Facebook Page has over 2,000 fans and is quite active at the time of writing. The Twitter account on the other hand has a modest 50 followers so far. Now the success of a Tunisia/Egypt-esque revolution is and never will be defined by the number of people joining a Facebook page but rather by the 100s of thousands who go out in the street and demand their rights without fear and do so peacefully.
As much as I admire these people’s urgency for change and justice to prevail, taking the sidibouzid route will not reap the rewards of Tunisia and Egypt as the situation in Bahrain is quite different on many levels.
- Both Tunisia and Egypt have great problems with growing unemployement and poverty within their peoples. Bahrainis, despite facing some unemployement woes, have not reached the point of widespread poverty which eventually lead to revolution.
- Tunisia and Egypt’s armies and police are of their own countrymen and we’ve all seen the images of Tunisians consoling crying policemen in Tunis and Egyptians taking photos with and kissing soldiers on the streets of Cairo. Bahrain, on the other hand have an influx of naturalized soldiers and policemen who at best do not have any connection or affection to the Bahraini people and that is quite evident by the almost weekly clashes with riot police since the mid 2000s.
- Despite branding itself as a country that’s tolerant and promotes inter-faith dialogues, Bahrain still finds itself in sectarian strife with mistrust and indifference towards eachothers causes turning into the norm whereas as we’ve seen in Egypt, with the Egyptian Muslims volunteering to be human shields around Copt churches after the Al-Qidiseen church was bombed on New Years and seeing Christians offering to ensure the safety of people praying Friday prayers in mosques on January 28th.
- Unlike Tunisia and Egypt, Bahrain is a relatively young country with a much younger democracy. Though influenced by the government, the shape of our parliament shows us where our loyalties and ideologies lie, and people need the courage and mentality to look at people not by sect and name but by skills and merit.
Amongst other factors such as the US Navy Fifth Fleet in Juffair etc may hinder a Tunisia/Egypt-esque popular revolution.
Reading through the Bahrain February 14th Revolution FB Page, some points are promising but the overall content sends too many mixed messages to be even considered to be serious as one update says “No Sunni, No Shia, Just Bahraini” yet the next uploaded video clearly shows Shia clerics and processions calling for “Thowra” (Revolution) over a Azza beat. Another example of mixed messages is this poster calling for peaceful protesting without burning or blocking streets yet is covered with what looks like dripping and splattered blood (WTF).
The poster also calls people not to carry any flags other the Bahrain flag, but on the other hand encourages people to confront with riot police in the case ‘They started it’ – though I’m sure the organizers don’t mean it in that way but it certainly can be read that way!
Yes, Bahrain needs change and our people must have a bigger say in how the country is run and have an elected Prime minister to whom can be held accounted for when corruption is found and not rectified.
But Bahrain needs not a revolution of regime change at this moment of time, rather a revolution to UNITE BAHRAIN’S PEOPLE and install a mentality of meritocracy and social harmony in them! Reminds me of Dr. Ali Fakhro’s speech during Waad’s 2010 election campaign when he said:
“We ask the people living in Jidhafs and Dimistan (shia villages) to come to Muharraq and support their brothers and sisters in causes that affect the people in Muharraq, and vice versa, we ask the people of Muharraq to go down to the villages of Dimistan and Jidhafs and support their families in the causes that affect those areas”.
Although our government doesn’t really like the idea of unity between Sunnis and Shias, with the blocking of the anti-sectarian campaign site for “Just Bahraini” we need to re-ignite a similar campaign and may Allah help us in succeeding in doing so (maybe with the help of social networks )
Yesterday our Shura Council discussed the draft of the Child Protection Law and during that session they discussed that there should be a law banning “improper names” being given to children. Their reason behind this is to protect children from being distressed because of their names. Kids, whether named Mohammed or Abu Jahal, will be teased and given nicknames regardless of their name and that’s just our human nature or even one of life’s spices that we can’t live without.
My biggest concern is WHAT can be considered an improper name? One of the local papers a few days back (as usual searching through their archives is like looking for a needle in a haystack!) said regarding this, that children’s name should not go against the religious beliefs and traditions of Bahrain. Now this confuses me.
Alhamdulillah we’re blessed in Bahrain with a cultural and religious diversity in our society which have lived for decades in harmony, only in the last couple of decades have we witnessed some sectarian tensions unfortunately. If we were to say that Bahrainis cannot give their children names that go against the religious beliefs in Bahrain, people from both sects would ban lists of names NEVER to be given to children for instance, Hardline Sunnis would demand names like:
to be banned, due to the fact that the prefix Abd (meaning slave) should only be added before Allah’s names (Abdulla, Abdulraheem, Abduljabbar etc..) and being “slaves” to members of Ahl Albayt or any other persons is Haram (forbidden)
Whilst on the other hand we would see Shias demand names like:
- Abu Baker
to be banned based on their beliefs that these Islamic figures betrayed the teachings of the Prophet PBUH and his family and are disliked (to be put mildly).
If anything, a law like this would only cause more controversy. Bahrain does have laws giving people the right to change their name and therefore there is no need whatsoever for them to even discuss such a law!
I suggest the Shura Council to focus more on the much bigger problems of child abuse and rape which have risen to over 450 known cases and practically hundreds more cases hiding in the shadows of fear and shame that we don’t know about.
Laws should be made to protect children from savage hate instigators, and in the case of them falling victims to these instigators, children should not be thrown into jails like adults and see their futures go up in smoke like the tyres they allegedly burnt. These children need to be insured that their education and their livelihood stay intact through rehabilitation and a loving society to embrace them with open arms…
Courtesy of Ahmed Al-Baqer’s Flickr
The ongoing insanity that is web censorship and gagging freedom of speech in Bahrain, has again stooped to a new low by blocking Amira Al-Hussaini’s ( Global Voices Regional Editor fro MENA) blog Silly Bahraini Girl . Below is her reaction which she wrote on her blog after it was blocked (There are a million and one ways to bypass proxies you know our dear government )
My deserted blog has been blocked in Bahrain. Out of the blue, I get a message that my blog has been “blocked for violating regulations and laws of Bahrain” when I tried to access it this morning.
What laws and regulations have I violated you dimwits? And how exactly can you block me from writing and expressing myself? And once you have stopped me from accessing my website through your firewall of repression, how can you stop the rest of the world from seeing how childish and arrogant your heavy-handedness on free speech is?
Today, you have proved to me without doubt that you are a regime which lives in fear – in fear of the written word and free minds. You have tried to silence me for no reason. You have stepped on my toes. You have violated my rights. You don’t know what animal you have unleashed.
I have turned a blind eye on the violations that you commit everyday and amid my moral and ethical dilemma pressed on with life, keeping myself busy with my home, family and cats. Yes, you morons. To numb my mind from the atrocities you commit everyday in the name of my country, my Bahrain, I spend my mornings grooming my seven Persian cats. If you need to know, I actually spend a few hours a day combing them and another few hours playing with them. I have curtailed my writing activities when I realised that whatever we write and say is useless, in a country hellbent on distorting the truth and alienating its own people.
I have kept my mouth shut when a minister from your cabinet spoke on television and lied, saying there are no poor people in Bahrain, despite the daily miseries we see with our very own eyes everyday.
I have ignored comments from your government officials saying that the unemployed in Bahrain do not want to work, despite not getting a suitable job in Bahrain since my return to my wonderland more than 18 months ago. Yes, someone with my experience and credentials is unemployed in Bahrain because I have not had the heart to start feeling sorry for myself and talk to people who know people who can employ me.
When your minister in charge of housing spoke on television, stating that every Bahraini had in fact benefited from decent adequate government housing, my jaw fell but I did not blog about it. I was too busy at the time looking for a house within my budget to provide me with shelter from the elements, including the goons on the streets, pointing their guns at passers-by.
And when you had your infamous crackdown on the ‘disenchanted dissidents,’ I was on holiday, protecting myself from witnessing the horrors you are committing on your own people, just because you think they are not your people. I also bit my tongue and swallowed it, when a leading figure spoke in a television interview, defending the Shia of Bahrain, saying that their allegiance is not for Iran. Like we now have to defend ourselves for being Bahraini – for being the downtrodden second-class (third-class if you are a woman) Bahrainis, who happened to live on this land for generations.
And speaking of television, I did not write a post when the ticker on your national television screen called Bahrain’s Shia ‘rewafedh’ – a derogatory term coined by the mountain goats – and hurled insults on my people, who also happen to be Bahrainis to the core, unlike the tens of thousands of naturalised Bahrainis you have imported en masse to change the demographic population of my country – my Bahrain.
What laws and regulations have I violated for my blog to be blocked? And how exactly can you block me? How do you intend to silence me? You can stop my readers from accessing my posts in Bahrain, but how would you shield the rest of the world from seeing the truth as it is, without censorship and repression?
In conclusion, allow me to correct you. You are the ones violating the Constitution in denying me and scores of other bloggers the right to express our opinions. Signing the Human Rights Charter wasn’t just a show for the rest of the world. We don’t live in a circus.
Web censorship, despite its futility, is a disgusting act of limiting freedom of speech and a disregard to human rights. Lest not forget that two Bahraini bloggers , Ali Abdulemam and Dr. Abduljalil Singace, are on trial as part of the ongoing Terror trials and over a thousand websites are now blocked in Bahrain!
We demand this web censorship shenanigan to end now as it 1) absolutely futile, 2) a huge waste of money having web filters and keeping them maintained 3) and most importantly a gross disrepect to freedom of speech in Bahrain, something that is in our constitutional rights..
Over the last year I’ve been part of a volunteer team running Pecha Kucha Night Bahrain. My good friend Mohammed Janahi and Zeyad Darwish (my best friend and who owns this site) received the handshake agreement to bring PKN to our lil island around December last year.
Kuwait, Dubai and many other Arab countries host Pecha Kucha Nights and are growing in popularity.
Pecha Kucha Night started in Tokyo in 2003 and was devised by Klein Dytham Architecture firm. Pecha Kucha ぺちゃくちゃ is Japanese for “chatter”.
It has a unique format where each presenter is only allowed to show 20 slides, each only lasting 20 seconds (thus the whole presentation being 6 minutes 40 seconds long) making it very concise and keeps attention high throughout the event.
So far we’ve had two successful PKNs with the first being as part of Architeture for Humanity global event for Haiti where we managed to raise $900 to build a school in Haiti by encouraging the audience to donate online to the charity (We do not collect money during events as we don’t have the jurisdiction to do so)
The main aim of us having these events here in Bahrain is to showcase Bahrain’s creative community and let people get up close and personal with them. Many Bahrain designers, architects, artists and photographers face problems of clients (foreign clients especially) not trusting in their capabilities and opt out to foreign firms to complete creative projects. Bahrain has massive amounts of creative people with great potential and just lack a forum to showcase their work in a relaxed environment.
Khalid Al-Muharraqi , reknowned Bahraini 3D animation artist will present at our next Pecha Kucha Night on December 4th 2010 @ Shaikh Ebrahim Centre of Culture and Research in Muharraq. In the above video as part of the excellent Bahraini Views series, he talks about his experience with foreign companies who were reluctant to work with him at first because he was “Bahraini” and how he proved them wrong with the quality of his work. We hope that Bahrain’s creative community doesn’t have to live similar experiences and we hope Pecha Kucha Night helps them achieve this.
We’ve held our previous events in different venues as we like being nomadic and get a change of atmosphere each time around. As I mentioned we’re a small group of volunteers and we don’t make any money from holding these events (other Pecha Kucha Nights do). We are always on the lookout for sponsors and new venues to have us!
Previous sponsors have been the Ministry of Culture, Batelco, Bahrain Society of Engineers and this time around we have the Shaikh Ebrahim Centre giving us their lovely venue and design firm Obai & Hill have chipped in and designed our next event’s flyer.
It’s very easy to contact us as we’re all over the web, if you’re interested in:
- presenting at a future event
- hosting us in your venue
- sponsoring us in support of the Bahrain creative community
- being part of our volunteer team
you can email us at pechakuchabahrain [at] gmail.com
Find us on Facebook: Pecha Kucha Bahrain
Follow us on Twitter: @pechakucha_BHR
Our page on the official Pecha Kucha Night Website: http://www.pecha-kucha.org/night/bahrain
Don’t forget to check out our next Pecha Kucha Night Volume 3 on December 4th 6:30pm @ Shaikh Ebrahim Centre for Culture and Research – Muharraq!