Call for Submissions: “In Memory of the National Union Committee”

Tasa’ol is pleased to announce the “In Memory of the National Union Committee” documentation project about the NUC, the first officially recognized political organization in Bahrain and the Gulf, in commemoration of the 61st anniversary of the Committee’s formation on October 13, 1954.

A new website will be launched to document the history of the National Union Committee movement and the national memory of Bahrain, collecting a variety of photographs, documents, articles, and recorded interviews with families of National Union Committee members and Bahraini youth.

Project aims:
  • Introduce new audiences to Bahraini national history by reviving the history of the National Union Committee through new and creative tools.
  • Encourage constructive and critical discussions about the definition of “national unity”.
  • Build a cross-generational dialogue that serves as way to gain new insights from the history.

We invite you to participate in the project through an audio / written interview with us about your thoughts about the NUC or about a relative who participated in the movement or lived through the time period; and we also invite you to contribute to the project with a written submission, or by contributing documents, photos and relevant resources. *All interviews will be anonymous and participants’ names will not be shared in any way.*

Contact us directly via email at: tasaolquestioning@gmail.com or via WhatsApp on +973 33730106.

Let us question, discuss and delve deeper into Bahraini national history.

Call For Submissions: “Longing: Homeland and Sect”

longing homeland and sect - call for submissions

Tasa’ol تساؤل is pleased to invite you to participate in its upcoming digital project: “Longing: Homeland and Sect”, which focuses on the Bahraini film, Longing حنين, directed by Hussain Al Hulaibi and written by Khalid Al Rowaie.

The project is made up of a series of articles, videos, and podcasts which will be published on www.tasaol.org, timed with a film screening of “Longing حنين” in September.

“Longing: Homeland and Sect” will analyse issues of sectarianism, religious extremism, and patriarchal sectarianism through a variety of written, audio-visual and digital mediums, with the aim of reaching better understandings of ourselves, our society and our identities.

We invite all writers, bloggers, film critics, activists and cinema enthusiasts to participate in the project through one of the following options:

  • Film review article
  • Analytical article discussing a different topic within the film
  • Opinion editorial discussing the film from a personal point of view
  • Short video collecting audience reactions to the film screening
  • Audio podcast; a discussion between the filmmakers, film critics, and activists

Final deadline for submission: Saturday, August 22.

Watch the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9IraEgChBw

To send pitches and suggestions, please contact us directly on tasaolquestioning@gmail.com or on https://twitter.com/Tasaol

 

“Longing” centers around the story of two co-existing Sunni and Shi’ite families whereby these two families are a living representation of the Bahraini family in the nineteen eighties. The families grow, and the children grow along with them until a sectarian flame begins to build in the new generations.
The film’s event take place between the years 1983 and 2000, portraying numerous political and social developments in the historical memory of Bahrain. The film recollects volatile global events and their impacts on Bahrain such as the Iraq-Iran War and the Soviet War in Afghanistan.

Conflict and What It Means To Be Bahraini

 

In this video, Mariam Al Zeera outlines her views on issues of conflict, in addition to her views on sectarianism in Bahrain. She raises critical questions about what it means to be Bahraini.


 

Mariam Al Zeera is a pacifist from Bahrain. She is a student, reader, writer, and occasional video blogger. All she wants is to nudge the world in a nicer direction. You can watch more of Mariam’s videos on her YouTube channel or follow her on Twitter @Mariamnessi.

I’m right, of course: Nobody else

by Hamed Fakhro

بقلم حامد فخرو

 


 

Underneath the blankets where most our fears dwell,

We wake and sleep to the sound of a bell

“Wake up,” it mocks. Leave my warmth, go put on your socks

Take a shower, wash your face, brush your teeth

Heart beat quickens, don’t forget to breathe

 

Another day, another grind

The path we trek, most of mankind

I pray to god to stone to sand

I belong right here: This is my land

And on this land I make the last stand. My last stand on my precious land

 

I am right of course, nobody else. My god is great and yours may smell

My god is real, why can’t you tell?

Smell my wrath and feel my pain, your loss can only be my gain

With your death I never feel remorse

A horse is a horse of course of course

I am a horse, with my god of Norse

 

Wake up every day and go to pray

Pray for myself, my people, a holy man’s bray

Poisoned words, thoughts, they spread and stray

The rest can go die, take a look in my eye

I’m not even joking, you’re the one who must be smoking

Kill the rest, believe me we are the best

 

Get children, breed, multiply

Turn around, look back in their wee little eye

These little killers will do me proud

I teach them my religion, hear them pray out loud

Up to heaven they’ll go and chill in a cloud

 

So go hide under your blanket you cowards

Teach your poison to who you want

I don’t care anymore I’m just too tired

I’ll act brave and put on a front

My god is my god is my god is my god

Price of salvation: Your soul to sell

The rest of you can all go to hell


 

 

Hamed Fakhro

Hamed Fakhro is an observer and commentator on human social behavior, and is known for his blatant tone in writing and speaking. He is also a businessman, property developer, inventor, speaker, and writer. His ultimate goal is to change himself, as well as the next generation in the most positive way possible. His upcoming summer project aims to develop innovative Bahraini talent, where he will assist them in transforming their ideas into a product and start selling it. You can follow Hamed on Instagram at @fakhro1.

حامد فخرو مشاهد ومعلق على السلوكيات الاجتماعية البشرية وهو معروف بنبرته الصارخة في كتاباته ومحادثاته. هو أيضاً يعمل كرجل أعمال في مجال تطوير العقارات وكمخترع ومحاضر وكاتب. هدفه الأول هو تغيير نفسه بالإضافة إلى الجيل المقبل بأقصى طريقة إيجابية ممكنة. مشروعه الصيفي المقبل يسعى إلى تنمية وتطوير الطاقات والمواهب البحرينية ومساعدتهم في تحويل أفكارهم إلى منتج يمكنهم تسويقه. يمكنك متابعة حامد عبر صفحته على إنستغرام @fakhro1.

Conflict and Sectarianism – A Vicious Circle

by Mohammed Al Sayed

إقرأ هذه المقالة باللغة العربية


 

Does sectarianism create conflict or does conflict breed sectarianism? Countless academic papers have been written going round in circles on the theme of how sectarian tensions emerge and whether they are the product of conflict; or whether these tensions are the engine that gives rise to further conflict.

Below, we will look at recent experiences of conflict and sectarian tensions in the region. The conclusion we will arrive at is that one does not necessarily precede the other, but rather, the two are interrelated in a vicious circle where conflict creates sectarianism and sectarianism in turn fuels further conflict.

Modern conflicts and sectarianism

In our recent memories, the earliest and most dramatic explosion of sectarian tensions came after the Iraq War in 2003.

During the 2003-2006 period in Iraq, groups associated with Al-Qaeda and other Sunni extremists targeted Shia-majority areas and Shia mosques. Meanwhile, Shia militias linked to Iran attacked Sunni areas and abducted and murdered Sunni civilians.

Both sides were seeking to stir up sectarian tensions in order to advance their own primarily political agendas of consolidating their power and influence across Iraq and undermining the new Iraqi administration. Sectarianism at that time was foreign to most of Iraqi society, with Sunnis and Shia living together and intermarrying.

Conflict in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and elsewhere has recently followed a sectarian logic. In all these cases, sectarianism doesn’t spontaneously erupt. Sectarian consciousness only gradually emerges after sustained efforts by extremist groups to provoke sectarian consciousness for political ends.

Historical roots of sectarianism

Sectarian figures will try and portray the Sunni-Shia split as going back almost to the time of the Prophet, dividing the Muslim world up into “true” Muslims and “deviant” Muslims. Such people will spend hours explaining current political events in the context of incidents that occurred between early Muslims nearly 1,400 years ago.

In reality, most of these 1,400 years is a history of coexistence and sharing of ideas and ideologies. Large numbers of Muslims for most of this history would never have recognized the Muslim world as being fundamentally divided into Sunni and Shia. That is certainly the case for Bahrain for much of its history.

Many historians would claim that our modern understanding of the sectarian divide goes back to the conflict between the Ottomans and the Safawis around the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

For the most part, Shia and Sunni clerics across the Arab world before that period recognized that they had to live together and avoid inflaming divisions. It was only when the Safawis and Ottomans identified their sectarian orientation with their political goals that this Shia-Sunni polarization took shape and acquired political dimensions.

Sectarianism and the desire for an “Islamic State”

Prior to the Iranian revolution, we find that most Shia clerics rejected and opposed Ayatollah Khomeini’s principle of Welayat al-Faqih (rule by clerics), because they thought it was a theocratic innovation and they realized its potential for stirring divisions.

Prior to Khomeini, most senior Ayatollahs preached coexistence with Sunnis and with rulers who were not Shia clerics. Therefore Khomeini’s Iranian revolution was not just a revolution against “godless” rulers, but against the long-established principles of Shia Islam. Even today, many Shia clerics in Al-Najaf and elsewhere reject Khomeini’s teachings; even though Iran has created a generation of clerics for whom Welayat al-Faqih is a central principle.

We find the same process with Sunni extremists. Many extremist groups adopt the principle of “takfir”; rejecting as non-Muslims all those who think differently from them. Such extremists believe in the necessity of establishing an Islamic state based on the teachings of their intolerant principles. We see this happening in parts of Syria, Nigeria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya. Such Sunni extremists generally view Shia as non-Muslims and would go as far as saying that Shia should be killed.

One of the many problems with all projects that have sought to establish a state where Islam and the state are inextricably linked and religion is made central to all aspects of society, politics and economics, is that the proponents inevitably hold a very narrow interpretation of Islam. Such projects thus tend to be just as intolerant of other Muslim sects as of non-Muslims. In Iran, there are countless examples of the marginalization, discrimination and persecution of Sunnis and other sects.

Sectarianism in Bahrain

From the outset of the unrest in February 2011, it wasn’t immediately obvious that it was of a wholly sectarian nature.

Both Sunnis and Shia went to Pearl Roundabout (Duwar Al LuaLua) urging reforms. However, it was the radicalized Shia organizations that were best able to mobilize their support bases and drive the unrest in a more extreme direction, calling for revolution and an end to the monarchy. Almost immediately, most Sunnis distanced themselves from the protest movement and the result was the sectarian polarization of the movement.

The most radical Shia groupings like Haq Movement and the Islamic Freedom Movement united in a “Coalition for a Republic” calling for protesters to forcibly overthrow the Monarchy and establish an Islamic Republic along Iranian lines.

The Sunni segment of Bahrain’s population saw this as very dangerous and in the eyes of many, the removal of the Monarchy amounted to a theocratic Shia takeover.

The result was that the unrest took a strongly sectarian turn, with both anti-Sunni and Shia incitement being witnessed in mosques, social media and various media outlets. By mid-March 2011 Bahrain was on the verge of serious sectarian conflict, as different localities set up road blocks and checkpoints guarded by vigilante groups.

It is credit to Bahrain’s leadership that we were able to take a step back from this brink and that there have been serious efforts towards dialogue and reconciliation. New laws have outlawed sectarian hate speech. However, Bahrain is certainly a more divided society than it was just five years ago.

Reconciliation and national unity

I have been lucky enough to attend more than one reconciliation programme in Northern Ireland as part of efforts to empower Bahrainis to take action to consolidate national unity.

It was instructive for me to see that Ireland is gradually healing its wounds after far worse sectarian violence and divisions than we ever experienced in Bahrain.

As levels of violence and unrest diminished in Bahrain over the past four years we can see time slowly healing these sectarian tensions. It may take years to get back to a situation of peaceful coexistence, but with each year that goes by without a major outbreak of renewed tensions there is hope that we can make progress.

This teaches us the degree to which conflict and sectarianism are related: Conflict inevitably gives rise to sectarian tensions, which further fuels the conflict.

However, reconciliation doesn’t just happen naturally. As the experience of Northern Ireland demonstrated; consolidated efforts are needed and genuine political will is required to bring the sides together in order to overcome the hatred and mistrust.

In Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere; continued conflict results in worsening relations between sects. In Bahrain there are grounds for optimism that the worst is behind us and that Bahrainis have the desire and the maturity to find a way of peacefully living together.


 

unnamed

Mohammed Al Sayed has over 10 years of experience in the field of media. Previously a journalist for one of Bahrain’s top English language newspaper, he later joined the Supreme Council for Women as a Senior Media and International Cooperation Specialist and has worked on several national women’s empowerment programmes including Bahrain’s official report of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Currently, Mohammed heads “Citizens for Bahrain”, an organization dedicated to reflecting the views of ordinary Bahrainis and ensuring that the full spectrum of opinions get a fair hearing locally and internationally. You can contact Mohammed and Citizens for Bahrain on Twitter @citizensforBH.

Questioning War E-book

Questioning War is a collection of original work by writers and artists mainly from Bahrain but also from Turkey and the United States.

The book was published as part of the Tasa’ol Bahrain “Questioning War” project to mark the centenary of the First World War in a way that is relevant to the contemporary contexts of conflict in 2014.

In the book questions about the definition of the word “terrorism”; how to deal with conflict; whether it is possible to achieve peace and what “revolution” means are raised as part of the project.

The guiding principle of the project is to encourage self-criticism and introspection. To examine ways in which we, as individuals, as societies, and as cultures contribute to conflicts and how we can come to terms with these issues in order to reach an understanding with “the other”.

The book is available for download on Lulu.com and from iTunes.

questioning war book cover

Discussion on #Sakheer_Girl

Twitter discussion on the #Sakheer_Girl issue which sparked a national controversy about gender and public morals, in addition to the role of the law in regulating these morals and gender expressions.

You can view the full Storify here.

 

Introducing Tasa’ol تساؤل

Tasa’ol تساؤل is a Bahraini community initiative that aims to raise critical questions about issues of identity, gender, media and conflict through organizing various community-driven projects, in an effort to gain a better understanding of ourselves, our societies, our cultures and then a better understanding of the other.

The point behind raising questions and using questioning as the main method of building debate around these issues is reflected in one of the initiative’s main aims which is to develop introspection and internal self-reflection.

The first Tasa’ol تساؤل event “Questioning The Veil” was held in May 2014 which invited a host of speakers to share their experiences with the Muslim hijab and discuss the hijab from cultural, social, historical and religious perspectives.

In September 2014, Tasa’ol organized it’s second event, Questioning War, which aimed to raise questions about terrorism, violence, revolution, securitization through a critical and constructive discussion.

In the coming months, Tasa’ol will be organizing a variety of events, activities and projects that will energize community and debate. We invite everyone to take part in the conversation – because if we don’t, other people will talk for us.

Keep asking questions.

                instagram           facebook          Soundcloud-Logo          storify-logo

tasaolquestioning@gmail.com