April 01, 2007

we are all Abbas

Whatever the exact circumstance which triggered the bullet which rendered young Abbas brain-dead, that fateful bullet was anything but ill-fated.

A rural Egyptian killed under Khidevi Egypt, or a black man murdered in Rhodesian times, are not called incidents. These are a logical, bullet proof conclusion of systemic state's policy.

Ill fate didn't corner and take aim at young Abbas that fateful morning. Rhodesian policies did. Abbas was their rightly intended victim. The right scull, at the rightly intended corner, at the right time.

How else can we explain the route of a young man good with electronics, from a a deeply religious family, a devoutly conservative but suffering village, to a night guard at a revelers night spot?

Newly-wed Abbas was compelled to work the extra night job to eke out perhaps no more than a monthly BD 160 -180 on top of his day job as a temporary driver with a contractor at the oil refinery, itself paying less than 200, in order to to break even with the poverty line point for a family. By virtue of his place of birth and sectarian affiliation, these were the only Rhodesian doors open to him. Had young Abbas been Baluchistan-born, he would have slept easy with that double sum made in fewer month weeks and far shorter shift time as a new guard recruit at the Ministry of Interior. But that's not a Rhodesian door open to him

These are the same doors that consign young Shia girls to work in textiles sweatshops for less than BD 90 a month. The same doors that consign Shia young men from less than notable families (the Coloured class) to drivers, sweepers, security guards and other indentured jobs, while their peers on the other sectarian divide go on to at minimum trigger-wielding jobs and ministries.

Born in 1980, Abbas belonged to this country's X Generation. The X was the official state reactive policy to the country's Shia young and not so young. Applied gradually post Dec. 81 and in full blown swing after Dec. 94, Abbas generation borne the full brunt of a policy of near total exclusion and economic siege. No educational opportunities. No job opportunities. No upward mobility. Total neglect and near complete socio-economic disinvestment. Shia young had to fend for themselves. When and if they can.

Abbas was certainly one of those who tried hard. And it wasn't easy. At 18, he was first detained for three months in the midst of the 90's Troubles. He was detained another time and received a Ministry of “Justice” sentence for three years until he was released by the general “amnesty” of 2001. The Ministry of “Education” for her part, did not allow him a return to finish his high school diploma. He had to work in various temporary jobs. He was married three months ago, only when he seemed to have a started a semblance of stable living.

As we speak, the Ministry of Interior is turning the other cheek and only saying that it is still investigating. The victim is not one of their blue-blooded folk after all. Had the trigger been pulled by the other sectarian hand, we would have went to sleep early Friday evening under curfew, Shia areas under siege and search orders. Saturday morning would have seen Rhodesian al-Watan with red-blooded headlines and war-declaring quotes by uniformed high offices, as well as paid statements by Rhodesian societies from back to back. But as the scull involved was for a Shia, the paper saw fit to relegate the story to the bare minimum of 5 column centimeters at the very bottom of its first page and a muddied-water short story inside. It completely disappeared from its first page of Sunday. Abbas is obviously not a blue-blooded name. The killer is likely one.


At 6:53 PM, Anonymous Salman Al-Rahma said...

لا فض فوك
and welcome back

At 8:26 PM, Anonymous sillybahrainigirl said...

MR, This is indeed a heavy post to digest. Lots of ideas were going on in my head as I was reading it not because you are saying is new but because you actually came out and said it. I don't agree with you on all the points .. but the silencer-shooting which has silenced Abbas and the silence of authorities over his death is deafening indeed!

At 10:16 PM, Blogger MR said...

شكرا لمرورك الكريم

I don't totally agree myself with what's above. It's just too undifferentiated -and outdated- thing to say about sophisticatedly engineered misery on the ground. With far more exceptions to any labeling rule.

At 11:21 PM, Blogger girl singing in the wreckage said...

i'm with you MR and i know for whom the bell is tolling, but i have to take issue with this:

"Had young Abbas been Baluchistan-born, he would have slept easy with that double sum made in fewer month weeks and far shorter shift time as a new guard recruit at the Ministry of Interior."

Both the baluchistan-born and the bahrain's-son are victims in the government's policy and practice.

the baluchistan born, here to earn money, is being used by the government in their mercenary army of the imported poor.

it's not as though they are being brought in to sleep in the castles of this kingdom, they're brought in to be the dogs guarding the castle walls.

so by importing and exploiting poor from other sunny countries, the bluebloods are able to continue marginalising and excluding bahrain's 'red indians'. ideally, both groups would be united under your post's title.

At 1:09 AM, Blogger MR said...


I certainly meant no disrespect for a restive nation with a long history of struggle, which saw its towns -but not its spirit- bombed into submission by the British Raj, and successive local and regional rajs that followed.

The context of the sentence above is what I see daily at the bank in front of us. By law, there has to be someone in attendance from the Ministry of Interior. Nine times out of 10, this someone happens to be a Baluchistan-born policeman. An air conditioned minibus brings him in the morning. He makes himself comfortable on a chair in the air conditioned lobby, chatting or watching the plasma screen TV. The outside parking area has to be manned by the local security guards with a private contractor. They have to roam around and stand on their feet for hours handling every coming and going, a good part of it in the terrible heat. For double the education level, double the language skills and certainly with a lot more in terms of burden and accountability, they get half the salary of our friend in the inside. Who may not sleep easy after the mini-bus comes to take him early, but he certainly sits easy/easier until then.

Of course, it's the Minister and not him that is at fault here. But, I can't get to absolve these many mini-vans of policemen either.

At 7:59 PM, Anonymous Astro said...

MR, your comments and world view are basically racist.

Two wrongs do not make a right as GSIW has pointed out. Your feeble attempt at apology is undermined by the judgement you go onto make about the "worth" of the poor local security guards versus the "lucky" foreigner sitting in the airconditioned halls of the bank. Precisely how do you know that the latter has half the attributes of the local boys.

Its ok to support the home team, but only hooligans hate the other team just because they wear a different colour when they come to play on the same field.

Or is it you who resents that one indvidual comes from a different sectarian persuasion than the majority of the Bahrainis? Should that really matter?

Keep your eye on the big picture - which is divide and rule and injustice - and don't fall for the oldest trick in the book. Time to read "Animal House" maybe (4 legs good, 2 legs bad?) and give up on the politics of envy.

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