Saturday, July 16, 2011

Doctors turn on each other as sectarianism tears Bahrain apart

By Robert Fisk, Middle East Correspondent

"In another sign of the growing sectarianism in the crisis in Bahrain, friends of imprisoned Shia Muslim doctors in the country are circulating lists of Sunni Muslim medical staff whom they claim have been sent to spy on them and to give false evidence against them in courts.

The new list includes doctors, interns, senior accident and emergency officials, ophthalmologists, paediatricians and staff nurses.

The Bahraini government itself sectarianised Shia demands for representative democracy in the Gulf monarchy earlier this year when it stated that doctors at the Salmaniya Medical Complex deliberately discriminated against Sunni patients at the hospital during the February pro-democracy protests. The Shia doctors, who have strenuously denied these claims, are part of the majority in Bahrain; the minority Sunnis comprise the monarchy and occupy senior positions in almost all major state security institutions.

But the latest file, which was shown to me this week by a Bahraini doctor, gives an even more poisonous edge to what is fast becoming a Shia-Sunni struggle for power. Already Shia doctors have been beaten in police custody, faced trumped-up charges of arms crimes and of allowing patients to die needlessly in hospital. Most of us who were witness to the fact that these charges are lies – for we were in the Salmaniya hospital at the time – are now, unsurprisingly, banned from the kingdom....."

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