“Is that in the Caribbean? Europe?”
“No it’s in the Middle East, next to Dubai?”
“OOOOHHHHH Dubai, yes ok.”
That’s a conversation I’ve had with many people when they ask me where I’m from. Bahrain is a tiny island in the Gulf region; you can barely see it on the map. It’s very common that people know nothing about Bahrain, or if they knew where it existed on a world map, the next thing they’d know is that it’s a rich oil country and it stops there. But what frustrates me is not the fact that a lot of intelligent people know little about my country, but the reasons behind it. I don’t blame them, because the media is responsible for casting out news about Bahrain in most of the world. The fact that young journalists get surprised when they hear about the uprising in Bahrain, and the continued human rights violations and political crisis, has become an expected reaction. They’re not surprised with what’s happening in Bahrain, but with themselves for not knowing about it. Their countries don’t talk about Bahrain, either because it’s irrelevant to their people, or because it gets pushed down on the world agenda’s list (if it ever made it to the list in the first place).
For that reason, I took advantage of the incredible opportunity I have being one of the Erasmus Mundus journalism students at Aarhus, to share with young journalists from around the world the untold story of the Bahraini uprising, or as I like to call it the “inconvenient uprising.”
At a documentary-screening event, attendees watched “Shouting in the dark”, an award winning documentary done by Al Jazeera English. The documentary takes viewers back to February 2011 when the revolution started, and shows the events that happened in that year.
I sat all the way in the back both to see people’s reactions and an attempt to hide my tears from them. I saw them shaking heads at the comments made by Bahrain State TV, and how doctors were charged for not being able to save a man’s life from the army’s bullet in his head. I heard mocking laughter at how State TV censored the moment of the roundabout’s collapse because the operation killed an Asian worker, and at America’s hypocricy when President Obama said, wherever people are fighting for freedom they can find a friend in the United States. In that moment, I felt they all became Bahrainis at heart, we all became citizens of the world, getting frustrated at the same things, shaking ours heads in disbelief, taking deep breaths to absorb it all. I knew that the message was delivered, and the story has been told.
Though it was a public event not covered by the media and talked about everywhere, this small initiative put Bahrain on the map for people representing more than 20 countries. People who showed support, interest and compassion. Journalists who will one day become the change in their countries, and end the media black out.