Religious Repression in Bahrain
New York, Bahrain April 16, 2011
In this interview from April 14 and 15 EST. I am speaking again with Rosa the young woman that I introduced in a prior post “19 in Bahrain: a young woman speaks” The subject of this dialogue is more specific. It is descriptive of a well documented pattern of state repression and interference in the religious activities of the Bahraini Shia population who despite being a majority in their country are subjected to state oppression by the minority ruling al-Kalifa monarchy. In particular the repressive police forces have taken to attacking the activities surrounding the ma’atam which are ceremonial community houses for religious educations and social events such as weddings and funerals. Many of the ma’atam have been destroyed or desecrated. There are more recent reports of the total destruction of mosques which are higher order houses of worship than the ma’atam.
Rosa: This is a special night. Tonight is the death of Fatima. We go to the ma’atam in the afternoon and then afterward the men go out. It’s like moharaam
but the govenment told us now that we can’t go out any more.
RV: So you are going tonight anyway as an act of resistance?
Rosa: Yes, we don’t care.
RV: I see, In the Villages you go to ma’atam every day normally?
Rosa hmmm for some ma’atms one day a week each.
RV: There is one for each mosque or more than one?
tell me more about the ma’atams I am trying to better understand this.
Rosa: More than that, ma’atm are places where the Shia gather. You don’t have to be Shia to come. It is open for anyone to come even non-Muslims.
In these ma’atm we learn many things about Islam and life also about ahl albait (As)and prophet Mohammed http://www.alulbayt.com/muh1426/index.htm see this website
RV: I see
Rosa: If you study these files u will really understand
RV: I opened the link
Rosa: As I told you they killed a woman today her name is Aziza [Azizah Hassan Khamis 25 years old from Bilad Al Qadeem Village The details of her death are unclear] they are shooting now.
RV: Outside of your home?
Rosa: Yes and I will go to maatam now. Pray for us plz
RV: I will. Tell me of all of that if you can of what happens. be careful and live to tell the story.
Rosa: Thanks I will
[About an hour passes and Rose makes contact with me again. ]
Rosa: I couldn’t go out. The troops are shooting anyone outside, and oh the tear gas.
RV: Stay in where it is safer and write to me about what is happening to the Ma’atam
Rosa: This night is a really special one for the Shia. [ It is Friday April 15, the day that the Shia people commemorate the death of the seventh century woman martyr Fatima daughter of the prophet Momhamad.] They go to ma’atm and (“Azz” a outside the ma’atm after that). The government told us that we can go to ma’atms but can’t go out afterwards. There is no reason for this stupid decision. No one agree with them. At 4pm the troops spread in the Shia villages and all over Manama. After we our prayers (After 6:30 pm) we heard shooting outside. ..The people ignored the shooting and started to go to ma’atms .Within a few minutes the troops started shooting people in the ma’atms in many villages including Duraz, Samahij and Bilad.
Now they are target the young men and trying to arrest them. The have been attacking the ma’atms using tears gas and different weapons. Also they have been smashing people’s cars! There are tanks outside don’t, I know why they brought them here!
For me I decided to go to ma’atm at 8pm but I couldn’t because they are outside shooting even the children! There is no religious freedom here. They have told us that we can go and do the normal things of life but they have lied! I know that they will not stop until the morning. It is punishment to us for being Shia.