31 Bahrainis had their citizenship withdrawn last week. Among them are two former members of parliament, i.e. two individuals with a certain degree of popular representation.
In reality, this is newsworthy merely in order to shed a light on the following: Whether or not the aforementioned two individuals enjoy a certain degree of representation, and whether or not the 31 Bahrainis are opposition activists or have committed acts of subversion, the truth is that withdrawing one’s nationality is not a punishment simply because granting [this] nationality is not a favor.
Any power who acts like the Bahraini authorities by depriving 31 citizens of their nationality is virtually saying that the country is owned by one man or – at the very best – by one family, i.e. a man who grants [the country’s] nationality as a favor and punishes [people] by withdrawing it. This has nothing to do with the simplest meaning of citizenship, let alone progress and modernism.
Putting this decision within the current political context reveals that for all the serious reforms and genuine concessions offered by Arab authorities to their respective peoples (with Morocco being a partial exception), the concept of constitutional monarchy in [Arab] monarchies is still utopic. When one considers Gulf countries, which epitomize the sensitive regional struggle, the tensions in Kuwait and the repression of the Bahraini uprising add up, highlighting the vital need for reforms, which should not come as a favor granted by anyone. While it is true that parties to the Bahraini opposition are dealing with Iran, this provides additional reason to initiate reforms in order to block and stifle any such involvement with Iran.
Furthermore, it is scary for any of us to remember that we live in a region where nationality is still treated as a favor or punishment. Speaking in practical and functional terms, it is normal for regimes to label anyone whose nationality has been withdrawn as a “traitor” knowing that any person who has been deprived of his/her nationality has to look for a place to stay and for an identity for him/her to get by in day-to-day life.
Iran’s influence in Bahrain is specifically seeking to take advantage of the domestic contradictions and the injustice to which the Shiite majority is subjected. However, such behavior [on behalf of the Bahraini authorities] will merely throw those who have been deprived of their nationality into Iran’s embrace.
This is taking place despite the “advice” and “pressure” exerted by friends with mixed interests in the matter. The West is certainly unable to relinquish its many interests in the Gulf for the sake of values but at the same time, it cannot turn its back on the values that are its own.
Such actions and other similar practices are an embarrassment for the whole world and coincide with easily-provided justifications for those with simple minds who either see interests without values or values without interests.
By and large, this is indeed a cause for great concern.
This article is a translation of the original, which appeared on the NOW Arabic site on Monday November 12, 2012