Bahraini opposition parties put out a joint statement,which at first glance appeared to condemn the murder of a policeman in Al-Eker. However, for those who took the time to read the statement, it seemed to in fact be saying something completely different.

First the opposition societies cast doubt on whether or not a policeman had been killed; giving the impression that this death had only “reportedly” been confirmed through “information circulated in the social media”. In actual fact local official sources and global media sources had been reporting on the details of this incident and the identity of the policeman for around 48 hours, before the opposition got round to acknowledging their own “social media sources”.

Instead of any kind of outright acknowledgement that repeated and deliberate attacks against policemen in the line of duty is terrorism; the opposition make several implicit implications that violence is the fault of the police themselves; “including the excessive use of force and collective punishment perpetrated by the police… and repressing of freedoms”.

These repeated allegations that violence is the fault of the police, creates the strong impression that what the opposition wants to say here is that the police deserved this attack.

If you want to condemn an act of terrorism; you condemn it in clear language; without cynically trying to blame the victim, cast doubt on the incident or shift the blame from the perpetrators. The opposition has repeatedly issued similar vague statements of condemnation. Hence, opposition societies have once again failed in delivering a clear message condemning terrorism.

The assertion that the opposition movement’s activity “started peaceful and will remain peaceful” is clearly false when there are five police dead this year as a result of bombs placed by opposition militants. That is, unless the opposition wants to drop all pretense of condemnation and come right out and accuse the authorities of having falsified the deaths or having perpetrated the killings themselves – as several senior opposition figures acting in their personal capacity have frequently and distastefully implied in the social media.

Furthermore, the statement should express sympathy and condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased; rather than the odd expression that “the opposition parties felt sorry for such violent acts from all sides”.

We note that this statement was issued collectively by a number of opposition societies; hence the confused message; condemning in one paragraph and then justifying, condoning and blaming the victims in the next. Perhaps it would have been preferable for those who felt genuine outrage against this appalling act of terrorism to have issued their own statement saying this clearly; rather than trying to act in unison with other societies with clearly very different views towards an outright terrorist attack.

Anyone can issue a statement claiming that they condemn “all acts of violence”. Such a statement is meaningless and is an attempt to avoid taking a position on the specific issue at hand.

The day that the clerics and ayatollahs backing the opposition come out in public and condemn specific acts of terrorism against serving police officers and stating that such methods are contrary to the teachings of Islam; would be a significant moment in delegitimizing the terrorist acts perpetrated by militants claiming to share the opposition’s objectives.

Such outright, specific and unconditional condemnation has never happened. As a result these militants can still claim that they are acting according to the opposition’s own calls that the police are “brutal mercenaries” and deserve to be “crushed”.

The opposition issue these tricky statements for one reason only; not sincere sentiment; but so that they can claim to the world’s media and foreign diplomats that they are peaceful and innocent of the acts of violence perpetrated by militants acting in their name.

The failure of the opposition to condemn terrorism; without simultaneously sending out a whole load of contradictory messages; instead creates serious doubts as to where their real sympathies lie.

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