Saturday, January 14, 2006

Blogging in the Arab world

Tomorrow's New York Times reports on the impact the web is having on politics in Bahrain - In Tiny Arab State, Web Takes on Ruling Elite. The article focuses on Ali Abudelemam, the author of Bahrain Online (Arabic). It's interesting to read in light of comments by Mahmood al-Yousif on his blog, Mahmood's Den about politics in Bahrain (his blog is in English, therefore I can read it!). Mahmood's latest posting is about the horrible loss of life in Mecca during the Hajj a few days ago - a mass stampede killed over 35 people.

A previous posting on Mahmood's Den covered the death in a traffic accident of the son of the king, Shaikh Faisal bin Hamad Al-Khalifa. It's interesting that Mahmood wrote very respectfully of the King of Bahrain, while some of his commenters were less deferential of the royal family. This is interesting in light of the fact that Mahmood himself is Shi'ite, while the royal family is Sunni (and 70% of the Bahraini population is Shi'ite) - and according to the Times article, there is a great deal of resentment among the Shi'ites because of discriminatory treatment of them by the government.

The Religious Policeman, a Saudi blogger who is very critical of the Saudi government, also blogged on the stampede in Mecca, a few days after predicting further disasters during the Hajj because of the enormous numbers of pilgrims who come each year. He writes: "There is something very eerie about writing about the dangers, and then seeing yet another repetition, once more the corpses being loaded into trucks. It just keeps happening again and again, like a bad nightmare." (RP was offline for a long time and recently started blogging again - he's not living in Saudi Arabia at the moment, which probably makes it easier and safer for him to blog).


  1. Rebecca being Shi'ite or Sunni doesn't actually come in the way of being a human being first and foremost. The kid might have been off the wire, but every kid deserves a chance of life. When that is extinguished, the parents do suffer regardless of their station in life, as the tradition, globally, goes like a parent should not survive a child. It doesn't even matter if you have just one child or twenty; each is valuable and each has a place reserved in both his parents' hearts.

    Me being respectful of the king is not out of the ordinary, I am just exercising my privilege of being a father, just like the king, in intimately knowing how he must feel if I just project that accident on one of my own children.

    People with no children cannot even begin to understand the turmoil of feelings associated with this sad incident.

  2. Dear Mahmood - I don't have children, but I can imagine how horrific it must be to lose a child. I agree with you that one does not have to be of a particular religion to sympathize with a person who has just lost a child. What I was noticing was the difference between your heartfelt comments and what the Times article said about how many Shi'ites feel about the government of Bahrain - that's all.