Shooting of Ahmed Ismael: A warning to us all
It is being reported in some quarters that Ahmed Ismael who was shot dead during a protest on Saturday was killed by gunmen opposed to the opposition. We want to discuss here the significance of this allegation for Bahrain and the likelihood that this be true.
Firstly, all of us should be ready to totally condemn this killing, whatever its motivations. Whatever people may think about the protest movement, Ahmed Ismael was a young man with a promising future who certainly didn’t deserve to die for attending a protest march and our thoughts are with his family.
This event should come as something of a wake-up call to all of us. We have all witnessed this growing anger within our society towards the protest movement and the terrible impact that the instability has had on our country. Many of us know hot-headed people (whether loyal or opposition) who have taken to sectarian insults – something that had previously been strange and unacceptable for Bahraini society.
We do not yet know for sure who shot Ahmed Ismael. However, while this killing may have shocked us; we may not have been surprised.
We live in a society that has become increasingly brutalized in recent months. When we see videos of police being showered with Molotov in locations familiar to us, and when the streets fill with tear gas, we ask in incredulity: Is this really Bahrain?
We have spoken to the loved ones of policemen killed and disfigured in ambushes and listened to their anger and bafflement about what is occurring here. Why are children as young as nine or ten being taught to make explosives and build roadblocks? Have we all gone crazy?
In this sense, there was a degree of inevitability that a handful of those angered by the excesses of the opposition would violently take matters into their own hands. However, there is also inevitability about where such actions will take Bahrain if they continue.
Around 2005 Iraq dissolved in a frenzy of sectarian violence, which escalated following the destruction of the Gold-domed Samarra Mosque and shrine for the Imams Al-Hadi and Al-Askari in February 2006. Let’s not even try to imagine the horror of such an outbreak of sectarian violence in tiny Bahrain, where culture and geography dictate that we all live so close to each other.