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Bahrain Election Special

October 23, 2010

Saturday PM: It’s election day here in Bahrain. I took a drive around the island. Even more posters of candidates than ever. Groups of people sitting by the road handing out leaflets to passers by. This evening, much honking of horns, banging of drums and general exuberence. No evidence of trouble – all seemed good humoured. The Gulf Daily News published a strong editorial urging the Bahrainis to come out and vote, and backing the advocates of moderation over sectarian and Islamist groups.

Lets hope the people take note. This is a nation full of goodwill, good intentions and benign ambitions for the future. It has its problems and imperfections, as all countries do. Bahrain is a great place to live, but I say this as a Westerner in a relatively privileged position. Let’s hope the politicians focus on making it so for all the people on this island.

Sunday am: The world media (at least those I scanned in the past 20 minutes) reports a peaceful election. The BBC website was perhaps the most informative source of the current political alignments, but interesting that the picture editor couldn’t resist using a picture of a set of election posters  in which four of the five candidates appeared to be Shiite clergymen, thus giving the casual observer a potentially false impression of the range of candidates. Most that I’ve seen have been wearing western attire or the traditional thobe and gutra. This is not the first time that I’ve seen Bahrain stereotyped by use of pictures. A couple of months ago, the monthly UK political magazine Standpoint published a piece about women’s empowerment in which the caption for a picture of two women wearing the niqab claimed that 85% of Bahraini women wear veils. Disingenuous, unless you consider that the hijab (which covers the hair) is a veil, which I don’t. Fairly low on the Goebbels Scale, I suppose, but as Dr G knew well, pictures form opinions as effectively as words….

From → Middle East, Politics

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