A group of Tunisian bloggers hosted the “Bahraini Revolution from Tunisian Eyes” conference, also known as “Friends of Bahrain,” which was held today, March 3rd at the Hotel Majestic in downtown Tunis, in order to show support for the ongoing Bahraini Revolution.
“All Arab people have the right to choose their own destiny,” said Bahraini blogger Hussain Yousif in his opening speech at the conference. Yousif thanked Tunisian civil society for expressing solidarity with Bahrainis throughout their revolution and the Bahraini government’s suppression of demonstrators. “The Bahraini Revolution is a vital aspect of the Arab Spring. Human Rights need to apply to all people,” Yousif concluded while he also suggesting the nomination of a prominent Bahraini human rights activist for Nobel Peace Prize.
Yousif’s speech was followed by remarks from Tunisian lawyer Abdenasser Aouini and member of the Tunisian Human Rights League Mohamed Salah Kheriji. Both guests emphasized the importance of recognizing the Bahraini Revolution. “When I visited Manama, I was surprised and impressed. Bahrainis are really educated and creative. I knew they will revolt against their regime and forget about religious conflicts and ethnic divisions,” stated Kheriji.
“The Forgotten Flower of the Arab Spring” was the title of the 18 minute documentary that was presented during the conference. The short documentary by Al Jazeera, showcased the Bahraini Revolution since its beginning and the horror of the regime’s oppression against Bahraini civilians. Gory photos of activists who were shot, and whose bodies were badly beaten by state police were featured prominently in the film.
Yousif, who co-founded Bahrain.online in 2001, has been blogging since 1998. He was arrested in 2005 along with other fellow activists. His friend and fellow activist Ali Abdel Imam was sentenced to 25 years of jail, but Yousif managed to escape to Cairo, Egypt. During the Tunisian Revolution, Yousif took it upon himself to translate tweets and news posted by Tunisian bloggers into English, in order to keep the Bahrainis and the rest of the Arab world informed of what was developing.
“If we had a real national army, the current Bahraini regime would have already fallen apart,” said Yousif. He stated that the involvement of the Saudi regime in Bahrain complicated the situation. “We are not sure who our enemy is, the Bahraini or the Saudi regime. The government should stop wasting funds hiring public relations agencies. There is no PR agency that could explain why there has been the same prime minister for 40 years. There is no PR agency that can explain why people were shot in the street. Only people have the truth.”
Prominent Tunisian blogger Slim Amamou confirmed that Tunisian bloggers have always taken part in activism across the Arab world. According to Amamou, the conference was organized in reaction to the Friends of Syria conference, which was hosted by the Tunisian government. Among the attendees at the Friends of Syria conference was the Bahraini Minister of Foreign Affairs.
“Bahraini cyber-activists have helped us during our Revolution. It is only fair to return the favor,” Amamou said. He explained that ethnic and religious conflicts and differences are only “made-up” by the Bahraini regime and sectarian differences distract attention from the real reasons behind the Bahraini Revolution. “The objective of the Arab Revolutions are for freedom and democracy for all people. This government has been selective in which people it believes deserve freedom, the Bahraini Foreign Minister should have never been invited to Tunisia,” said Amamou.
Yousif added that a revolution should represent all citizens of a country and not only target a sole ethnic group or constituency. “I say to those who want to impose their beliefs, remember who fought for your freedom. Believe what you want to believe but don’t try to subjugate others.”
Kouichi Shirayanagi contributed to this report.
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