Monday, February 21, 2011

Live Ammunition!

So civilized, exhibiting the traditional Muslim courtesy toward others, and concern for their well-being. These are the Arab world's boasts of themselves, exemplifying Islam's pacifying and brotherly concepts of worship of a peaceful deity. The deep malaise that affected Egypt and caused its youth to rise up in a final paroxysm of defiance against authority that seemed to take its army by complete surprise, is now playing itself out in far more rigid and tyrannical regimes.

Where Egyptian protesters, detesting the brutality of their police, railed against their obedience to the regime in initiating a violent crackdown in the initial stages of their protests, the army presented itself as one with the people. An illusion, to be sure, but not entirely. Enough so that the protesters saw in the representatives of their armed forces, a concern for the welfare of the people, even though the commanding officers would brook no threat to their authority and power.

Far different is the situation now unfolding with methodical and brutal thoroughness in Bahrain, where King Hamad did indeed, as was done also in Egypt, initiate some reforms that he felt his people were prepared for. Never dreaming that there would be an event on the near horizon that would incite his people to rail against his rule. For 'his people' included those who were enraged that they were not included amongst his people; he a Sunni, they Shiites.

The first protests garnered attention, and placatory statements issuing from the halls of power. King Hamad sent his son to smooth things over, to assure the protesters that their demands were heard and would be given due consideration. This mollified no one and the protests continued and continued to grow. And then reason was lost to hysteria in the threat being posed and the lethal hand of the rulers was ungloved.

First tear gas, and when that crowd-management device proved insufficiently effective, live ammunition. Troops brought in during the night hours while protesters slept, to fire upon them. And direct assaults during the following daytime hours. Desperate to escape the carnage, people attempted to flee the terror that they could not believe was being visited upon them, and screams were heard: "They are killing our people! They are killing our people!"

Not all fled. Some dauntlessly stood their ground defiantly determined to face their tormentors rather than turn their backs, to be fired upon. Holding their arms up, hands to the sky as though imploring a divine will to rescue them, they shouted their intent: "Peaceful, Peaceful!" Around them, others knelt on the ground to feverishly pray for divine intervention.

Anti-aircraft guns terrified them, tear gas blinded them, and people fled in a panic of survival as helicopter gunships sprayed the area and paramedics left their ambulances to try to retrieve the wounded. And they too became victims. The regime sealing its own doomed casket that will be buried deep in the ground of historical misfortune.

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