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Bahrain Targets 'Undesirable' Travelers and Bad Memories

Those who appear to be journalists and travelers of Lebanese origin are being stopped by immigration officers.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 4/6/2011, 3:50 PM / Last Update: 4/6/2011, 4:47 PM

Bahrain is targeting two types of travelers its government has apparently singled out for “special processing” at the country's sole international airport.

Those who appear to be journalists and travelers of Lebanese origin are being stopped by immigration officers, according to a report published by the online Asia Times.

“The Kingdom of Bahrain's new greeting procedures...give the Sunni-run state an air of being bent on self-destruction, albeit perhaps unwittingly,” wrote Derek Henry Flood for the Times.

A journalist for the newspaper was detained for more than two hours at Bahrain International Airport, Flood reported.

The new policy came in the wake of a speech by Hizbullah terror chief Hassan Nasrallah in support of Bahrain's Shi'ite minority. Flood called the move “a policy of an inherently immature political system suddenly unaware of the entire Persian Gulf's dependence on the business acumen of the Lebanese diaspora.”

Both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia contend that Iran is actively involved in goading and inciting tensions between its Shi'ite and Sunni populations.

The kingdom is attempting to wipe out the “bad memories” of the unrest that was aimed at bringing down the monarchy and its government.

According to the report, Bahrain's famous Pearl Square – known as the Pearl Roundabout – has been destroyed. The protests that began February 14, part of a general upheaval that swept through the entire Middle East over the past three months, were centered primarily around the monument.

The government ordered the destruction of the monument to the country's ancient pearl-diving history as a means of wiping out the memory of the protests.

To further ensure the memory would be erased, cashiers in stores around the country have been told to pull 500 fils coins – generally given as change for the Bahraini dinar -- out of circulation. The coins feature a symbol of the Pearl Monument. Cashiers were told to simply “toss them in the rubbish bin after receiving them as payment from customers, ensuring the erasure of the bad memory plaguing the kingdom,” Flood wrote.

Two Iraqi nationals, both journalists who worked for the recently-banned opposition al-Wasat newspaper, were also deported, according to the Associated Press.