Under normal circumstances, I avoid reading the NYT, but a recent article titled, “Losing Faith With Protesters in Bahrain” caught my attention. It was written by certain Souad, and was initially published in the International Herald Tribune so I thought I’d give it a go.
I figured there’s a chance that it could have a speck of nuance or a factlet I hadn’t encountered on the current situation in Bahrain - or at worst - quote the usual players and paint the same old picture.
But no, it was even worse. The article quoted, “three unmarried, childless Western women”, who are apparently distraught that they “cannot “wear whatever [they] want” or “get out with [their] friends to all kinds of restaurants and clubs”.
And the article closed with a word of advice: “
‘Look at people like Carol. After working for more than 20 years, she got nothing. But is she violent against policemen? Is she burning tires?”’
How is this relevant? Why is this news?
Now I understand that migrants and expat workers in Bahrain face myriads of discriminatory laws, and that naturilasation and employment of non-Bahrainis is among the many grievances of Bahraini activists. But this is not how you report on these important issues.
And quite fittingly, I just encountered this post by Angry Arab’s “Chief Bahrain Correspondent”:
You don’t get any privileges for being a citizen so there’s nothing to be stuck up about. In fact, the people who get the privilges are the western expats - free car, free house, free private schooling for their kids. We aren’t really part of this Gulf nationalist discourse as she calls it.
I of course agree with her that the way the laborers are treated in Bahrain is horrible - it is not a political thing. But you can compound this with the problem that there is a lot of unemployment in Bahrain, and its not like qatar, kuwait and the Uae where they don’t have enough people. The government wants to dilute the numbers of bahrainis in the workplace to weaken the labor movement (though expats have participated in the movement previously but as you can imagine, many are too scared to do anything).