Jan 14th, 2013
Several of the ‘usual suspects’ have spoken out against a visit by the British Prince, the Duke of York, to Bahrain.
In reaction to the news of his trip, Amnesty International urged that “anyone who visits Bahrain should go there with their eyes wide open”.
We would urge this as well. The Prince should visit with his eyes wide open in order to witness the real situation in Bahrain.
He will arrive to a safe, welcoming and peaceful environment and he will find that the vast majority of Bahrainis will be pleased to see him.
The Duke of York’s visit will be part of celebrations to mark 200 years of relations between Great Britain and the Kingdom of Bahrain.
It is not stretching the truth too far if we acknowledge the historical part Britain and other Gulf allies played in ensuring the stability and security of Bahrain. There is an irony in that many of those opposing the Prince’s visit are advocates of the overthrow of the Constitutional Monarchy in Bahrain. The implicit message is that they are asking Britain’s Monarchy to be advocating the view that Monarchy is a bad thing. Therefore we can be pleased – but unsurprised that the Duke of York is ignoring them.
Bahrain’s King and the Crown Prince have actually been the two pillars of reform and progress in Bahrain. Meanwhile it has often been elected MPs who have been most active in trying to bring in intolerant and Islamist measures which are out of tune with the diversity and tolerance of our society.
So most people would recognize the Monarchy in Bahrain as the supporter and protector of reform and progress in this Kingdom; while fearing that revolutionary Islamists would send this country back several centuries, if they ever got their hands on power.
For this reason, the majority of Bahrainis support reform of our Constitutional Monarchy, but do not want to allow a small group of militants to force us down the disastrous path of revolution and anarchy, as we have seen with Syria, Egypt and Libya.
So our message to the Duke of York is very much “Welcome to Bahrain and please do come here with your eyes wide open in order to properly understand Bahrain on its own terms and to get a better understanding of what Bahrainis really want”.