The below case study is linked to the Citizens for Bahrain report on the dismissed employees issue: http://www.citizensforbahrain.com/index.php/entry/revisiting-the-bici-recommendations.
The name in the below testimony has been change to protect the privacy of the individual concerned.
“An outsider and a traitor”
Hussein Mahmood is a 32-year-old Shia Muslim Bahraini who works for a prominent private bank. Hussein was initially a supporter of the protest movement in 2011:
“With continuous calls by opposition leaders to join the protest movement at the Pearl Roundabout; I made my first appearance joining my friends and family at the Roundabout prior to the first clearance in February 2011.
“The main reasons for going to the roundabout were to call for more freedoms and to bring an end to corruption in the country. I personally had no sectarian or religious motives behind joining the protest movement. At the beginning of the uprising the sectarian agenda of certain political groups was not very apparent, however as the situation escalated, the reality became more clear.
“At first, it seemed that there was nothing wrong with supporting a movement that calls for further reforms and democracy, as thousands of people were participating in the daily protests and gathering at the Roundabout, my visits to the roundabout were not about causing chaos or being involved in violent acts.
“At times during the February – March 2011 period it was difficult to leave my neighbourhood and go to work. To my surprise when I walked into work premises in the week after the declaration of the National Safety Status I found out that I have been sacked from my job due to absence from duty and apparently due to being associated with the opposition and joining the protest movement.
“It was certainly an unfair and unjustified decision to be sacked for my views and for practicing my right to freedom of expression, my superiors found it unjustifiable that I couldn’t make it to work due to the security status and the daily road blocks in my area. I tried to explain the situation but they failed to understand that my absence was not intended.
“I was left with no job and no income for a few months. However, later an investigation was carried out and I was reinstated into my old job.”
“When I went back to work, I found out that many of my colleagues treated me differently as they now saw me as an outsider and a traitor. The main evidence held against me were a few photos that were taken of me at the Roundabout that were circulated on social media and what I failed to understand is why do people look at me differently just because I attended the Roundabout. We very clearly heard the Crown Prince say that there was nothing wrong with speaking up for your rights without being violent, hence the general perception of anyone who is an opposition member should not be viewed as violent and a traitor. I found that circulation of my pictures was a huge violation of my rights and privacy and was done intentionally to tarnish my reputation.”
“Furthermore, it was only a matter of time before I felt that my relationship with my loyalist colleagues and superiors is heading back to normal. I avoid political discussion of any kind out of respect to others, whereas I do feel that following the unrest I cannot speak openly to those who surround me daily in the office and whom I consider as my own family and friends despite our political differences.”
“I would advise anyone to think twice before joining any sort of political movement without knowing the true intentions of such a movement. I have no inclination towards any sectarian beliefs as I was raised in a very moderate family and being labeled as a traitor and a Shia hardliner just because I come from an originally Shia family is unfair.
I am proud that I joined people in calling for reforms; but I am bitter that this protest movement was hijacked by hardliners with a sectarian agenda that has damaged relations between Shia and Sunnis. As a result, thousands of people like me distanced themselves from the protest movement – but we moderate oppositionists are still viewed with a degree of suspicion by loyalists.”