Following the 2011 developments, in what was named the Arab Spring, the Kingdom of Bahrain, which is a new constitutional monarchy, could have revolted against democracy and lose faith in it. It could have turned against the system which specifies the authorities’ jurisdictions, separates between them, specifies royal jurisdictions and restrains them within constitutional framework.
It could have revolted against all these restraints which prevented it from confronting terrorism and terrorists who wreaked havoc on the level of security and hid behind the system of civilians’ human rights which the constitution has granted them and residents in Bahrain.
All the blessing of democracy, such as human rights, parliamentary immunity of elected members of parliament, the support which civil society institutions were granted, media and civil rights and other rights, were exploited. They were entirely employed by the Shiite Al-Dawa Party to stage a coup against the constitution and the monarchy, not peacefully, but through violence and terrorism. More than 20 member of the security forces were killed, and more than 3,000 were injured. Police stations and prisons were attacked - these terrorist acts enjoyed both - a local and an international cover and umbrella, all under the pretext of protecting rights and freedoms.
However, Bahrain did not alter its choice and it adhered to a constitutional framework even when it wanted to make amendments to this system that allow the military judiciary to try civilians who carry out terrorist acts against the armed forces and military facilities.
It adhered to a legal framework despite the violence of armed militias and organizations that claimed to be civilians, despite receiving military training and taking up arms, while operating within cells led by a central command. Bahrain’s government did not violate the authorities’ jurisdictions which are stipulated by the constitution, and it submitted its proposal to amend the constitution according to the constitutional measures outlined.
It submitted a draft law to the legislative authority so the latter can look into it during its ordinary session. The legislative committee’s first chamber met with the minister of defense and listened to his ministry’s justifications for proposing this draft law, and then it submitted its report which was discussed during a public hearing. They casted a vote and the draft law was approved. Even if there were some who opposed to the law, the majority approved it and then the law was transferred to the parliament’s second chamber to resume the ordinary procedure.
Bahrain has the right to brag about the fact that despite its chance to abandon its promises and back down from keeping them by simply citing the West’s retreating actions and using the excuse that there are threats against the region - particularly against it - it adhered to its democratic choice and did not turn against itSawsan Al-Shaer
Bahrain thus adheres to its constitutional choices and resolves what it can confront changes and developments without turning against this choice - although revolting against this entire liberal system prevails in the entire world today due to the developments related to security and peace.
Candidates who represent the extreme right-wing in Europe, or US, and who are calling for restrictions on immigration and for expanding security jurisdictions do not win for no reason. They do not advance over their competitors without indications that western societies, which have chosen liberalism as an ideology and a system of values for more than half a century, but are the ones to have begun to have enough of this system’s predominance at the expense of collective security.
Even attempts to go around these restrictions have failed. The mobile prisons which the US established outside its borders - to be able to pursue terrorists and protect its national security away from the restrictions of the American civil rights system - were shut down and they were pursued by this same system and by the latter’s sponsors and protectors.
In Europe, they’re considering all security matters which intersect with civil freedoms and rights related to expression, immigration, wiretapping and moving. Rights and freedoms have acted as gaps that terrorism exploited, to enter certain countries and threaten collective security as well as this system of freedoms itself.
US President Donald Trump, French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen or The Alternative for Germany Party - or other so called extreme right-wing movement in Europe or the US - don’t compliment, or alter terms, but they speak frankly, calling a spade a spade. They clearly say the system of rights has limits and its predominance must not reach the extent it has reached and which allowed terrorists to operate under its umbrella and hide under its cover. They also address America’s and Europe’s fears over these civilized achievements which the West enjoys thanks to the “blessing” of this system and they assure them that their rights and freedoms will not be altered but the system will be more rationalized!
If we consider how the pioneers of democracy reviewed the limits of the rights system, which they established. And if we take a thorough look at how terrorism exploited the loopholes in these systems to cause harm and hide under its cover, then Bahrain has the right to brag about the fact that despite its chance to abandon its promises and back down from keeping them by simply citing the West’s retreating actions and using the excuse that there are threats against the region - particularly against it - it adhered to its democratic choice and did not turn against it. Bahrain carried out a constitutional amendment via an elected legislative authority and through guaranteed rights which are provided by the civil judicial or military judicial law wherever the trial is held.
This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat on March 5, 2017
Sawsan Al Shaer is a Bahraini writer and journalist. She tweets under the handle @sawsanalshaer