15th May, 2013 –

The Leader of oppositionist Al-Wefaq Islamic Society, Ali Salman, on 12 May made a speech at a religious gathering in Samaheej. Here we look at some of the language of this speech and the implications in the context of the ongoing National Dialogue:

“This is a struggle between good and bad”

What does Shaikh Ali Salman mean by this? Are opponents of the Monarchy therefore good and supporters of the Monarchy bad? Portraying the political system as a struggle between good and evil indicates a fundamentalist and extremist worldview, and the political sophistication of the average six-year old.

“…between those who want justice and those who want to entrench dictatorship”

Shaikh Ali Salman ignores the vast majority of Bahrainis who support a reformed Constitutional Monarchy, but oppose violent revolution. Here he is using exactly the same language as Ayatollah Khomeini before the 1979 Iranian revolution.

We will boycott the 2014 elections “unless the people obtain their rights”

Democracy is about participating in Parliament in order to represent the interests of your constituency – not trying to destroy the Parliamentary process or hold the political system hostage to inflexible demands.

A further two years or more of political instability will do terrible harm to Bahrain and will further divide our society – does Shaikh Ali Salman really want this? Why not even a mention of addressing these issues through National Dialogue?

“Come and agree on something that will satisfy the Bahraini nation… There is no alternative to total change. Bahrain can’t end this revolution through violence and political maneuvering.”

Shaikh Ali Salman does not represent the Bahraini people. He does not reject the vast majority of middle classes, liberals, Sunnis, residents, educated and secular Bahrainis – or anybody outside his narrowing constituency. He implies that anyone who doesn’t agree with him doesn’t deserve to have a voice and can be conveniently ignored.

He still talks of revolution and destroying the current political system in its entirety and refuses to talk positively about any kind of reform process.

“Sadly the Government rejects the ideas proposed by the opposition”

Who has rejected what? There is a process of dialogue ongoing and everything is on the table. Al-Wefaq won’t obtain everything it wants, but neither will the Government. This is called “compromise” and “flexibility” – neither of which Shaikh Ali Salman seems particularly well acquainted with.

“The Government tried to laugh at the international community when it proposed dialogue”

Again, Shaikh Ali Salman views dialogue, debate and consensus in a highly negative way. By engaging in dialogue, commissioning the BICI and engaging in a reform process, the Bahraini Government behaved in a very different way to the leaderships of Syria, Libya, Egypt and Yemen which tried to kill themselves out of trouble. Shaikh Ali Salman should not treat dialogue and reform as something shameful.

“The Bahraini population demanding change constitutes a majority”

As we said above – although most Bahrainis support reform – the vast majority reject Shaikh Ali Salman’s objective of forcing revolution and an Islamic republic on Bahrain through continuing street agitation.

 Ali Salman’s views are highly illiberal and anti-democratic in first claiming to represent a majority view – and then asserting that he can impose his vision on everybody else who rejects his way of thinking. Shaikh Ali Salman talks about democracy but really seeks tyranny of one segment over all other parts of society.

We are not looking to gain the Prime Ministerial position

It is a relief to see that Shaikh Ali Salman has given up his pretentions to be Bahrain’s next Prime Minister – or he says he has.

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