Saturday, May 22, 2004

Bahrain: A Tradition of Demonstrations

Since I moved to study in Canada, I haven't been closely following the news in Bahrain. Every once in a while I would skim through the websites of local Bahraini newspapers or ask friends and family members about recent updates and that's about it. Thanks to a few Bahraini blogs (check my link list) I can now learn about what’s happening back home in a timelier manner and from a far more interesting perspective.

Latest event was a protest in Manama against what’s happening in the holy shrines of Najaf and Karbala. The huge crowd resulted in confrontations with the police who tried to oppress the demonstrations using their usual force tactics. Weird how police, who are supposed to maintain the peace and order…end up causing all the mess. Talk about getting the job done right!

Even though it’s very disappointing to know that a peaceful demonstration has been dealt with by the police in such an oppressive manner, I really feel proud that Bahrainis continue to express themselves without fearing the consequences. I personally don't regard those demonstrations as signs of unrest or instability but as signs of an alive and active society that is speaking out and doing something about the injustices that occur.

Speaking of demonstrations, I would like to share a couple of old pictures illustrating this long tradition of political and religious manifestation in Bahrain. I am not sure of the exact years or occasions so if anyone could correct me or fill me in with more details I would appreciate it.

My friend approximates that this picture is taken in the 1940’s. It clearly shows an azza procession. Boy, people looked different back in those days. Azza is a religious procession usually held by shia Muslims when commemorating the death of important religious figures. It mainly involves chanting eulogies and hitting oneself on the chest as an expression of grief and sadness.

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This picture could have been taken the 1960’s. It's a political demonstration; I am not sure what the demonstration was about.

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click on image to enlarge


At 7:49 PM, Blogger Chanad said...

wow, these pictures are a treasure find. do you have any more from that era?

At 4:31 AM, Blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif said...

That second picture (60's) area looks very familiar. If I'm not mistaken that's in our old neighbourhood (Fareeq Al-Hammam) where the Al-Zahra primary girls' school is. That guy looking out from the shop is possibly Haji Hubail. The second shop which is shut was an old iron-mongery. The protestors are about half a minute away from our old house!

Sheesh this brings memories! I remember the demonstrations of the 60's through the 80's clearly, I can even remember that whenever there was wind of a demo (they ALL walked the same path of the Azza and our house was smack in the middle of things) that my grandmothers (rest their souls) prepaired the onions to give to the demonstrators against the tear gas!

Thank you for bringing back the memories!


At 11:03 AM, Blogger global soul said...

Chan’ad, I certainly don’t have any pictures from 40’s… but pics from the 50’s and 60’s should be abundant in any old family album in Bahrain. Those pictures were sent to me by some friends and I was so thrilled to have them.

Thanks a lot Mahmood! I am so honored to have you comment on this post. It’s remarkable how you’re able to identify the neighborhood and its soul- the school, the shop, its owner, and the memories of your grandmothers’ preparing onions with such vividness. Thanks a lot for the details.

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