Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Upheaval in Bahrain: hitting home

I was a little surprised how upset it made me this morning. The lead headline on the New York Times site was/is:

Unrest Grows in Bahrain as Police Kill a 2nd Protester
 
"Home" may sound like a stretch. I only lived there for three months, back in 1993-94. But for that stretch, it was home.

(I was a computer systems and management consultant for Arthur Andersen, and I led a project at GARMCO: Gulf Aluminum Rolling Mill Company. Khatar, another consultant, and I moved into a furnished apartment. Home.)

I adored the place, and the friends I made there. It will always have a place in my heart.


It's sort of like hearing my nephew was in trouble, I guess. I'm not responsible for him, but I would feel horrible if anything happened to him.

You could feel the unrest already, especially during Ramadan. Khatar was Lebanese, and would periodically translate what the Shia muezzins were wailing in their call to prayers. Often it was about the stranglehold of the Sunnis on them, and of Ali one day freeing them of that bondage.

They were pretty openly calling for revolt. I was shocked to discover that's what was going on in what to me was sort of background noise. I was walking through it oblivious.

On the plus side, the fact that they were getting away with it, suggests some measure of religious freedom. (There were other countries in the region where I believe they would have been arrested immediately.)

One day, Khatar assured me, it would blow. (It wasn't a purely religious thing, but religio-economic, too. Is that the word? There was great economic disparity between the two sects.)

There was also frustration with the monarchy.

So far, this uprising seems to be more about the latter, though they may or may not go hand in hand.

I'm excited by the idea of people there gaining their freedom, as I've been elated all month watching Cairo. But I'm more apprehensive this time.

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