In his April 20 Commentary article, “Stability is prerequisite for progress,” King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa of Bahrain addresses America’s interests in an effort to gain favor with the American public.
This strategy is a desperate one because Bahrain’s relationship with the United States is crucial to the 220-year-old regime’s survival. It cannot have gone unnoticed by the king that last Friday, as thousands of Americans marched around the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington and then made their way to the White House to protest the government of Bahrain’s disregard for human rights, political participation and freedom of speech.
Whereas in his commentary piece the king emphasizes the need for stability, there is no reason to believe that such stability would not return once the Al Khalifa regime makes its inevitable exit. In fact, Americans from all walks of life - liberal and conservative - have always believed that a vibrant democracy is both a cornerstone of stability and a stepping stone to progress. Our forefathers fought vigorously to uphold these virtues.
Does the king think we don’t know about his silencing of dissent by force, limiting the press, and gerrymandering of districts to prevent the majority population from gaining political power? He is insulting our intelligence as Americans by proposing that Bahraini police officers be trained in the United States and Bahraini students come here for scholarships. These are the same security forces that are now brutally attacking peaceful protesters, human-rights activists and their families, and have militarized Bahrain’s hospitals. Just last week, Bahrain stripped Britain-based Bahraini students of their scholarships after they were identified as attending protests against the regime while in the United Kingdom.
This is not the American experience the king wrote was a “model well worth emulating.” Take your leave, Your Majesty. Americans have more respect for democracy and human rights than you do for your own people.
MOHAMMAD ALI NAQUVI
Founder, Independent Viewpoints