A Young Bahraini Activist Responds—Meet Ali
Like so many young people in the Middle East, Ali dates his political awakening to protest activity, having taken part in demonstrations in Bahrain when they first broke out over a year ago. The 23-year-old, who declined to provide his full name for safety reasons, responded to Millennial Letters’ recent blog post, “Where’s the News Coverage of Bahrain?” by explaining that the opposition is often misunderstood on the outside.
In Bahrain today, “it’s not a simple Sunni vs. Shiite divide,” the young accounting student explains in an e-mail interview. “More accurately, it would be Shiite Islamists + liberals (both Sunni & Shiite) vs. Sunni Islamists + rich liberals close to royal family (which I think is an oxymoron, how can a liberal be pro-dictatorship?).”
Ali is very active on Twitter (@S_Bahraini) and although he lives far away from the main cities, he says he makes a point of attending major opposition-led demonstrations. These protests have also challenged the opposition, he says, because the slogans shouted on the streets—many of which call for the end of the monarchical system—conflict with the stated demands of most opposition parties, many of which he says still call for a reformed monarchy in Bahrain. “It is increasingly awkward for them when they schedule rallies and the protesters call for the fall of the regime,” he says, “and when the groups demand a constitutional monarchy, this angers the crowd, so there is still this disconnect between the parties and the people.