Egyptian Dancer’s Candidacy in Bahraini Parliament Brings Naturalization Issue back to the Table
2018-08-28 - 7:44 p
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The announcement of an Egyptian dancer running in Bahraini Parliamentary elections raised controversy in Bahrain with regards to the naturalization policies followed by the government. Her candidacy wouldn't have risen issues, if online activists hadn't revealed tweets published by her in which she insulted Shia citizens, who constitute the majority of the country's population, dubbing them "maggis", "polytheists" and "sons of Muta'a".
She said in one the tweets that she continued to post via her account, but then decided to close it down following the consequence of announcing her candidacy, "a polytheist procession for Karzakan (Bahraini Shiite village located west of the country) safavid donkeys," she said ridiculing the rituals practiced by Shiites as a sign of grief over their Imams.
Amira Hasan Al-Imam came to Bahrain at the beginning of the 2000s after signing a contract to work as a dancer in the bar of a three-star hotel in Manama, known as Samiramis. Minister of Justice Khalid bin Ali Al Kahlifa, who was born and lived most of his life in Egypt, interfered to facilitate giving her a Bahraini nationality, because she has close ties with his Egyptian mother. Since then, she changed her name from "Amira Hasan Al-Imam" to "Amira Al-Hasan", using the family name of a known Bahraini family "Al-Hasan". She also had a membership in one the pro-government liberal societies, Al-Meethaq, which claims that it fights religious sectarianism.
Last month, Al-Hasan announced that she intends to run for the Parliamentary elections in Al-Busaiteen, the first directorate in the Muharraq governorate and that she "will be independent and will seek to support and empower women".
In one of her tweets, Al-Hasan had said: "May Allah curse the Shia and destroy them". "New T-shirts this year in the procession of sons of Muta'a. Isn't there a new ‘we are at your service O Hussain' style?"
Despite the wave these tweets stirred, the authorities remained silent, exactly as they did in other similar incidents. Instead, a local newspaper- Al-Ayam- owned by the King's media counselor, Nabeel Al-Hamr, announced that the public opinion was stirred against the candidate in this time and its coinciding with the election race represents election traps targeting the Kingdom's stability.
Two lawyers have submitted two criminal lawsuits to the prosecutor demanding "to take the necessary legal measures to achieve justice". Lawyer Fatima Al-Hawaj who filed one of the two complaints said "her tweets remained until the date she deleted the account, thus, the crime is considered to be ongoing. We didn't know her crime until the day we filed the report."
The other complaint filed by lawyer Shahzalan Khamis stated "the plaintiff insulted and mocked the Bahraini civil society in all of its sects and affiliations, and in all what this state represents in this social and political system."
For its part, Al-Ayam newspaper saw that "the real aim of such filed reports that include certain phrases and conflicts represent a reflection of a period in which sedition was awakened and grudges were alive, which severely harmed the nation"
Al-Hasan remains silent despite all the problems this issue causes on the level of public opinion. Al-Meethaq society, which Al-Hasan said she belongs to, also remained silent. However, her case opened the door for discussing the naturalization policies organized by the government in order to change the country's demographics and alter the Shia proportion. In a recent report, Bahraini sociologist Baqer Al-Najjar said in his book issued this year "Forbidden Modernity in the Arab Gulf...Transformations of society and the State" that "due to the naturalization process the Bahraini society has been subjected to over the past two decades (...) the proportion of Shiites fell below 47% of the total population."
Prominent lawyer Abdullah Al-Shamlawi sees that "the reason why naturalized Amira Al-Hasan insulted the Shia is because she found that those who insult Shia are not held accountable." He adds in the same context "the insults of the naturalized citizen to the Shia is not among the crimes that lead to a lawsuit. If the authorities didn't implement the law to pursuit (the perpetrator), the victims have to understand that what Al-Hasan says is accepted by the [officials]."
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