When fast leads to farce...
Vol XXVII NO. 211 Sunday 17 October 2004
BY AMIRA AL HUSSAINI
IT can't get any better than this? Or can it? The National Assembly opened to much fanfare last week with renewed promises for a better deal for Bahrainis - women, workers, the downtrodden, the whole lot.
But our honourable MPs sure know how to take cues and work hand in hand to create a better Bahrain for the people who freely elected them.
In fact, they are already working on marvellous proposals to make the lives of their fellow citizens better.
With Ramadan here, people take it for granted that life in the Arab World comes to a standstill.
Conferences, exhibitions, meetings, seminars, business trips and all the rest of the activities, like going to work, which ensure that there is Iftar on our tables, come to a complete full-stop. You can't work and fast at the same time. It is that time of the year when many people take their annual holidays because they are in no mood to go to work while they are fasting.
Forget about the real reasons for Ramadan (that's only in textbooks and mosque sermons). Without being specific whether it implies to many, most or all Bahrainis, it seems to be the time to eat (while you are awake) and sleep (while you are fasting) and meet family for Iftar and friends for Ghabgha parties, which continue until the early hours of the morning.
Thanks to the MPs latest suggestion, the Holy Month is now expected to get even better. In their first session ever for this bright new term, they have come up with a proposal which will enable us all to scale greater heights and save humanity and the Muslim world.
They now want to 'decrease' working hours in the government sector from six to five hours during the Holy Month. I really don't know whether to cry or laugh at this. The reasoning behind this proposal: According to parliament second vice-chairman Shaikh Adel Al Maawda it was aimed at helping working women meet their family needs during Ramadan.
But then those proposing the idea saw that it wasn't fair to discriminate between men and women and decided that both men and women should be treated equally and thereby should both "work" fewer hours during Ramadan. Am I really reading, writing and understanding this right? Do you see light at the end of the tunnel the way I am seeing it? Men should be treated equally to women, cries the MP. After all, he says, they "decided to include everyone to be fair, because fasting is for everyone."
Yes, I cannot agree more. Fasting is for everyone but nowhere in the Holy Book does it say that He Who Fasts Shall Not Work.
To add insult to injury, the MPs drafting the proposal claim that reducing working hours would not affect productivity. Oh, PLEASE!