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What comes first, the state or the ‘group’?

In Bahrain, those attempting to join state apparatus without abandoning the ‘group’ have often been persecuted

Sawsan Al Shaer

Published: Updated:

Dr Nadir Khadim, born in a village in Bahrain, puts spotlight in his book – Outside the Grouping – on the “group” suppressing those attempting to defect to join the authority. Even though most of our authors are not audacious enough to delve into realism, this book is indeed worth reading.

The author boldly highlights the individual desire to desert the “group”. He even refers to Jews during the Nazi era and Arab Palestine during the Zionist regime as precedents. However, he missed pointing out about groups in the GCC, which include the Shiites, the sect he belongs to.

This is a reality witnessed by majority of Shiites in rural Bahrain and Kuwait. Those who attempted to join the states without abandoning the “group” are persecuted. There are several examples of how the “group” denied its members the right to combine the two.

Though the book was published in 2009, the violent clashes that rocked Bahrain at the time clouded discussions. On Wednesday, the author attended a press conference organized by “Wa’ad” opposition party during which he refrained from talking about the complexity of the situation in Bahrain. This somehow mirrors the dilemma of the willfully ignorant educated elite.

The party’s headquarters are in close proximity to the High Criminal Court and the High Court of Appeal. The two Bahraini courts are scheduled next month to try 20 of those accused of multiple charges including torturing young men from al-Daraz and Sanabis villages. These areas have majority Shiite populations, some of whom are accused of being state security agents.

There is little doubt that the author of the book would have never imagined that the coercion practiced by “group” could ever amount to serious crimes such as those committed by the defendants facing trial. The most telling example of “group” oppression, illustrated by Dr Nadir in his book, was the exclusion of members swearing allegiance to the group – or what he called it “loyalty”.

We believe that the silence of those willing to break away following oppression – and the elite unwilling to counter the “group” and refusing to face reality – has culminated in escalation of suppression leading to kidnapping, torturing and killing.

Sawsan Al Shaer

Escalation of suppression

We believe that the silence of those willing to break away following oppression – and the elite unwilling to counter the “group” and refusing to face reality – has culminated in escalation of suppression leading to kidnapping, torturing and killing.

These are not the first cases whereby Bahraini citizen have been abducted by gangs who claim to be protecting areas under the control of religious men or the “group”. On the 10th of August 2015, a 16-year-old boy from Al-Sanabis was abducted by seven masked men. He was suspended from a tree and tortured.

The next day, he was told by a member of the Mukhtar brigade that he was being tortured for being an informer. He was threatened that he will be filmed if he doesn’t confess. He was eventually driven in a car and dumped near Bin Khamees cemetery in Sanabis.
It is known that Mohamed Habib Al-Muqdad, a religious cleric member of the Al-Wafaq Group, was among those convicted. This “group” has since been dissolved by the authorities for committing a number of crimes.

The latest case being considered by the High Criminal Court begins on the 9th of February 2017. The victim, in this case, is Ahmed Musa an 18-year-old inhabitant of Al-Shakoura district. Two of the four defendants were arrested following investigations and witness statements. The four defendants are being charged with “torture leading to death and false imprisonment and the misdemeanors of theft and vandalism”.

This case relates to the events of the 4th of October 2016 in the Al-Daraaz district where an unidentified person was found unconscious and in a critical condition with multiple wounds. He remained in coma for a number of days and then succumbed to injuries. The victim was identified by the father who found his son’s picture published on social media.

Following investigations, it was revealed that the fourth criminal – who was a friend of the one murdered – had taken the victim to the defendant named Isa Qasim’s house. He then led him to the al-Daraaz district in order for more assailants to interrogate him and force him to confess to being a police informant.

Aren’t these crimes an extension of the call for “loyalty”?

This article first appeared in Asharq Al-Awsat on Jan. 29, 2017.
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Sawsan Al Shaer is a Bahraini writer and journalist. She tweets under the handle @sawsanalshaer

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.