From claims of being an entirely non-violent movement, to then acknowledging the rise of radical and violent groups within Bahrain’s opposition, spokespersons for the opposition continue to maneuver and switch tactics; changing their narrative every time more light is shed on the reality of the current situation in Bahrain.

The situation has remained the same for the past three years, albeit becoming less volatile and more secure. However, it was only until the recent wave of amateur bombings this year that left four policemen dead when reporters and journalists began to claim that radicalization is on the rise in Bahrain. 

The reality is that these radical elements always existed and operated in Bahrain, even prior to 2011, and they will continue to do so. What has changed, however, is the opposition bloc’s ability to control those violent groupings within their constituencies; hence, the perceived rise in radicalization (and the urgent need for dialogue).  

Over the past three years we have witnessed the Bahraini opposition’s narrative shift several times to match whatever coverage foreign observers are currently receiving about Bahrain. When news of the opposition’s violence was generally unknown, their spokespersons claimed the movement was entirely peaceful; when news of bombings and dead policemen began to spread, it was due to the rise in radicalization and disappearing moderates within the opposition. Very convenient!    

It is extremely frustrating to see some news reporters blindly following the opposition’s amorphous rhetoric without a hint of doubt and a shred of integrity.

Those of us who live in Bahrain have seen the use of guerilla tactics on the street since the beginning of the 2011 unrest. It was only until this year that reporters and journalists began to acknowledge the existence of radicals and violent elements in Bahrain’s opposition.

Now, according to opposition mouthpiece Ala’a Shehabi (as quoted in Patrick Cockburn’s recent article in the Independent), the argument is that radical groups have gained leadership on the streets since the “peaceful” leaders of the opposition have all been locked up; “peaceful” opposition leaders like Hassan Mushaima, notorious for influencing Bahraini youth to engage in street violence and “jihad”.  

Mushaima also founded the Haq Movement in 2005 along with other radical members of Al Wefaq who chose to leave the group because of Al Wefaq’s decision to participate in parliamentary elections. The radicals within Al Wefaq perceived the group to be giving “legitimacy to the Bahraini government” by partaking in parliamentary life and therefore renounced their membership and founded Haq. So much for the development of democratic institutions!  

Since its establishment, it is widely believed that Haq has operated as a proxy for Iranian political interests in Bahrain. Wikileaks cables stress Mushaima’s role in stirring up frequent riots and unrest long before 2011.  

Although it may have aggravated the already tense situation on street, the recently perceived rise in radicalization is no way correlated to the arrest of opposition figures as their spokespeople have suggested.  

We urge reporters and journalists not to be fooled by the opposition’s shifty rhetoric and to be less biased in their coverage of Bahrain, and we would like to thank those who have committed themselves to upholding journalistic integrity and non-partisan reporting.

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