04/03/2004

The wrong signals...

Vol XXVI NO. 350 Thursday 4 March 2004

BY AMIRA AL HUSSAINI

It's un-Islamic? Is this what we want to tell the rest of the world every time someone asks us why we are not moving with the times?

Why blame Islam for ulterior motives, masterminded by sinister elements aimed at creating discord among members of the one family and hitting development and progress every step of the way?

The latest fuss regarding TV reality show Big Brother is surreal. A BD15 million investment is dropped overnight, 200 people, many of whom are Bahrainis, are left jobless and Bahrain's reputation smeared in international circuits.

I have no explanation as to why the programme - even though I am not a fan - was stopped.

Why has the Middle East Broadcasting Corporation and the Information Ministry succumbed to the bullying of a few?

The programme, if anything, was boring and of no interest to the majority of people in Bahrain. (P.S: I am saying this to ensure that no one brands me as un-Islamic for defending Big Brother.)

People have bigger un-Islamic headaches in real life - like adulterous husbands and wives, alcohol and drug abuse, children sniffing glue, huge phone bills and housing problems, to name a few - and are not bothered with what a bunch of children are up to in a house under 24-hour camera surveillance in Amwaj Islands.

All the problems facing normal everyday Bahrainis are un-Islamic - from the problems caused by some thieving scheming officials to the highly exaggerated interest rates banks impose on unwitting poor people aspiring to improve their level of living by borrowing money.

Why is no one talking about this?

Stopping Big Brother is a big slap to freedom of expression and all the gains made through pioneering reforms initiated by His Majesty the King. The attack the programme has come under is just a scapegoat for a more sinister scheme. It is a matter of principle and by giving in to pressure, we are giving up on all the gains made over decades.

I am not defending Big Brother here but the drastic measures - stopping the show - taken after a little bit of bullying is unacceptable by all standards.

Is this mentality of 'pack up and leave' what we will do every time someone attacks anything - whether a project or an individual - under the banner of Islam?

Surely, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Next, there will be issues of segregation, women driving, women on television and women shutting up and being cocooned at home.

Will taking women out of the picture make Bahrain more Islamic?

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