Monday, July 7, 2008

Reading between the lines

A good friend of mine is a regular writer for Al Wasat Arabic newspaper here in Bahrain. She gets varied responses from her articles...some for and some against what she may have written...but nothing compared to a recent article she submitted. This one has provoked a firestorm with rather sinister undertones.

Her article on June 29th was about a well known Egyptian traitor who collaborated with the English occupiers for personal gain and who nearly destroyed the Egyptian royal family because of it....his name was Hassenein Basha. Most Arabs will no doubt know all about this man and what chaos he caused in his lifetime.

Now...through her entire article this was the only man she mentioned by name...and yet...through the gifted ability to read between the lines(a gift many people seem to have but dont always utilize properly) many many Bahrainis have reached the conclusion that she is referring to a member of the royal family here in Bahrain...including some members of that royal family themselves. She has alternately been praised and castigized for her words. She has had her ass both kissed and kicked depending on who was talking to her...or about her.

Now here is my question to you dear readers...if she did not mention any particular person by name...other than this long dead infamous Hassenein Basha...and therefore cannot be accused of referring to any person currently living, Royal or otherwise, then how can she be accused of referring to one particularly and reprimanded for it? It would seem easy enough to sort this out...if you read her words and recognize yourself through your actions and talk...then you should feel ashamed of your actions and take her words as guidance to changee your ways before Judgement Day catches you with your hand in the proverbial cookie jar...if you dont recognize yourself in her words...then why are you so upset by them? Why subject the male members of her family to threatening phonecalls ordering them to "control" her writing...why cause long standing business relations to suddenly jump ship and pretend ignorance of her existence...why put her in the unenviable position of having to decide whether freedom of expression espoused by the National Charter means anything compared to possible harm done to either herself of her male family members? She wrote an article...once again Arabs have proven their real fear of the written word...words are dangerous...words cause people to throw away their firmly held ignorance and forcibly pry their eyes open to the truth...words have the uncanny knack of causing people to think...and thinking is not a required or desired skill in the Arab a matter of fact...its a skill best left to the few in charge...but then again...the kind of thinking they do could be best described as the fingers in the ears...hands over the eyes variety.

Unfortunately...or rather fortunately in my opinion...she is not about to be swayed or diverted from her belief that writing the truth should always take precedent over sheilding the treasonous actions many in power undertake without fear of reprisal...all I can say to that is...if you dont see yourself described in her words...why bother yourself...if you do see yourself...may God grant you a little extra guidance and a hell of a lot more days on earth to make up for the life you have made stealing from those that you are meant to take care of...after all...not every person who inherits a chair...gets the luxery of sitting in it forever...time has a way of coming full other words...what goes around ....comes around. Something to think


Redbelt said...

Thing is, if you bring up a subject out of the blue, people will often say "what did he / she mean by that?"
If I were to speak about an event that isn't currently going on nor is the anniversary of it or anything, you would naturally go and think of the most likely scenario that prompted that.
BTW, this is a Bahraini skill called (naghza), pointing something out by stating another. Like if I see someone wearing pants that weren't long enough, I could say that Michael Jackson was hip in the 80s when his socks were showing. That sorta thing.

coolred38 said...

thanks for the info...btw two weeks on she is still dealing with the fallout. keeps things interesting

Marahm said...

Whether she was refering to someone or something else other than her stated subject might be better evaluated by an Egyptian person, one who is coversant with the history of this particular episode.

Cross cultural miscommunication happens in exactly this way--- you interpret something from another culture through the filters of your own culture.