It would be extremely funny, if it wasn't so sad, what the state of of viewpoints in Bahrain has become. We have been left with what can only be termed as fundamentalism and hard-headedness from both sides: liberals and islamists.
The extremism of islamist fundamentalist has been commented on to death, so I'm not going to spend much time on it. There has been non-stop commenting on how they are not willing to listen to the other viewpoint, and believe themselves to hold the sole truth and answers to right and wrong. Furthermore, stereotype-labelling has been rife in their circles, where everyone who disagrees with them has been called wrong, a kafir, an unbeliever, and one who should be silenced.
The more worrying thing, however, is that the so called "liberals" are not much better. Although they consider themselves to be openminded and receptive to dialogue, their stance is not much better than the Islamists, and sometimes even much worse. They themselves believe that they are right beyond doubt, and they indulge in stereotype-labelling on a scale comparable and sometimes worse than the Islamists. Let's look at some examples:
The so-called liberals call everyone who is a member or supports an Islamist inclined party "thugs, Islamic fundamentalists, women haters, an Islamic party run by clerics." One need only look at some of the comments and replies put on blogs such as mahmood's:
"Whenever Al-Wefaq wants to achieve some aim it sends out its Brownshirts, whether its Nancy Ajram, Le Terresse or now this petition, its thugs aren't far behind."
"I'm not surprised that with langauge like that Al-Wefaq Islamsists are eager to get back to it. Ever seen these clerics solution for the unemployment problem? Women know your place - the kitchen sink."
There are many many other examples. One just has to peruse through any blog to see the posted replies, from mahmood to Rosenblog.
copyright: Mharrigi 2004
What has happened? Our emotions have run wild and our mind have stopped. Since when has liberalism started to stand for "stereotypically label people" and "instead of listening to the arguments people put forward, just label them with names". Al Wefaq (and other leftist groups, which are supposedly the most liberal in Bahrain) put forward arguments about the petition, and no one bothers to attack those arguments, but instead go on side attacks labelling them as fundamendalists and women haters. Whatever the opposition says or does, they are still labelled as that. Excuse me, but doesn't that reak a bit of ... fundamentalism?
No one is willing to listen to the other sides' arguments. Each side starts from an unverified premise and then advocates it to death, even if every evidence point the other way. Instead of first looking at arguments, facts, viewpoints, and then reaching your own viewpoint, people have reversed that strategy. Now people start with a viewpoint, and looking for every evidence, opinion, fact, lie and rumours to try to foward that viewpoint. I hate Al Wefaq, and that is what I will start with. Nothing, no evidence or good argument they give can change that fact, and I will try by all of my means to further that view. I will blame Al Wefaq for every action done by any Shia person, from demonstrating against Nancy Ajram to invading La Terrace. In fact, I will blame the opposition for everything that happens in Bahrain. They are responsible for the riots in the new year, and they are also responsible for Muharraq not winning the football league last year! They are islamist fundamentalist thugs, period. Hell, if al Wefaq staged a Miss Bikini contest with champage bottles as prizes people would still find a way to construe that as being a covert way to bring in Islamic fundamentalism!
Is this what liberalism is all about? Scare tactics and mass propaganda? Hard headedness and stubborness? Can't a Muslim-inclined person ever be right on anything? Are all of the opposition muslim fundamentalists? What the above amounts to is no different than when the Islamists label every liberal a kaffer and unbeliever. In fact it is not different from someone debating a valid point rationally with you, and you're only reply is "no, because you are ugly."
Then we see these liberals using the same scare-tactics to argue against democracy. How ironic is that! "We can't have a properly elected parliament with a lot of authority because then the islamists would make all hell break loose." "We must have an appointed shura council to stop the decisions of the Islamists." If those are the arguments, then just come and say it out loud: We do not want democracy. I have news for few folks, that's what democracy entails! Sometimes you get what you want, sometimes you don't. You can't wait until bahrain is all filled with the so called liberals of your same viewpoint, and then have a democracy. Most people (unfortunately) want Islamists in the parliament. Deal with it. As long as Islamists are not willing to overthrow the democracy itself (and I'm sure some liberal fundamentalists will start spreading that scare-tactic), then they have the right for their voice to be heard.
For everyone there who got lost in the midst of the fundamentalism from both sides, may I suggest some humble advice (which is directed to me just as much as anyone else as well).
Insteady of forming an opinion based on ill-conceived propaganda voices and defending that opinion even if irrationally to the death, instead of name labelling based on thin information, how about the following:
Sit down, take a deep breath. Try to draw yourself back from all preformed judgements and opinions, whichever side they belong to. Start a clean slate. Don't look at the name labellings, don't look at the scare tactics of each sides. Look at the facts and the well grounded arguments of both parties. Try to give each viewpoint its chance. Then try to form a well-grounded opinion.
Come one liberals. We are losing the plot here. Let us not become liberal fundamentalists!
P.S. any well thought-out comments are welcomed (or even fundamentalist ones)