Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Silencing Bahrain's journalists

Lamees Dhaif tells Al Jazeera: "They can stop us from telling stories now, but they can't stop us forever."

Matthew Cassel

"Women and local journalists have long been at the forefront of the movement for change in the Arab world. Bahrain's Lamees Dhaif is both, and for nearly a decade she has been an outspoken proponent of social justice in the small island nation.

Thirty-four-year-old Dhaif spoke to Al Jazeera in Doha this past weekend about her career as a journalist and the recent government crackdown that has silenced her and many others in the Gulf kingdom.

Dhaif described herself as a "golden child" when she entered journalism in 2002, saying she had "everything it takes" to be a great journalist. Since then, Dhaif has become one of the most recognised and controversial personalities in Bahrain's media.....

According to Dhaif, in Bahrain, "there are some Shia who have a lot. And there are a lot of Sunnis suffering, but they're scared to [act] because the government makes them scared of Iran".

"The government says that the protesters want Iran [to control Bahrain] ... it's an old song that they've sung for decades. What the hell do we want with Iran? It is not a civilised government, it is a dictatorship. We wish a better life for the people in Iran."

Dhaif asked: "Do all Sunnis want a government like Saudi Arabia? So why do they accuse any Shia of wanting a religious government like in Iran?"...."If the government gives them real rights there would be no need to protest. [The government] should stop being so stubborn - they can't change the people, but the people can change them."...."

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