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‘Democratic’ doublespeak in Bahrain: how the government spins its summer of repression

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Since the beginning of June, the Government of Bahrain has forcibly exiled activist Zainab al-Khawaja; denaturalized the country’s most prominent Shia cleric, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim; dissolved the largest opposition group, Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society; rearrested celebrated human rights defender Nabeel Rajab; brought criminal charges against internationally-renowned interfaith leader Sheikh Maytham al-Salman; and judicially harassed more than 60 Shia religious figures on allegations linked solely to sermons and peaceful demonstrations.

Khalifa Alfadhel, a law professor at the University of Bahrain and a royally-appointed member of the Bahrain Institute for Political Development (BIPD) run by the Minister of Information Affairs, seems to think it’s obvious. In two similar articles recently submitted to RealClearPolitics and openDemocracy – “Bahrain's Little Known Democratic Move” and “The suspension of Wefaq: a triumph for democracy in Bahrain” – Alfadhel characterizes 2016 as a watershed year for the country, asserting that the government has finally defeated the forces of “neomedievalism” in the name of “pluralism, tolerance and political liberalism” by closing Al-Wefaq and prohibiting religious leaders from political participation

 

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