Thursday, August 25, 2005

Ashamed? Yes I am!!

As I was sitting in the bus I noticed a black man comming towards me. He sat next to me and I could tell he wanted to talk. I waited until...

Man: Hello, are you form Egypt?
Me: No I am from Bahrain. (with pride)
Man: Bahrain?? How are Asian and Indian maids treated there?
Me: emmm... (looking down and ashmed) well, honestly... bad.
Man: What do you mean by bad?
Me: (I thought of Anita Verma whom I had met personally) I mean bad as in neo-slavery. They have no rights and no laws to protect those rights. If the family is good then they are lucky. Otherwise, which is more common, they overwork for very low wages, and sometimes dont get paid at all. Also they get raped and have noway to protect themselves. On top of all that the family keeps their passports so they cannot go back to their countries without the families consent. Many commit suicide, I could go on and on.
Man: (giving me a bad look) Why do you treat them like that?
Me: Well, racism. I guess many people are born and raised treating Indians and other nationalities as an inferior race. They grow up believing it.

I love my country Bahrain and I love my people as well. But when it comes to this issue, I am ashamed. I wish I could have told that man that racism comes only from the upper class and not the average poor Bahraini. But I know that would be a lie.

Some PLUS students here criticize me for the negative things I say about my country when it comes to this issue and the the government. They say we are here in the States to give the best picture possible of our countries. However, I know that as a muslim it is my job to speak up when I see something wrong. We cannot cry for our democracy and turn around and abuse other people.

I would like to mention that not all Bahrainis are racist ofcourse. Many Bharainis work for the rights of Migrant workers. But in Bahraini society it has become something very normal to treat others with disrespect because of their origin.


Blogger PALFORCE said...


Mashallah , Thank you for speaking your mind, I applaud your courage and it takes a higher being to say the truth. Nations and countries have changes dramatically from bad to good because of people like you; keep it up and God Bless.

Keep the dream up Dreamer, " I have a Dream" :-)


12:07 AM  
Blogger Abu Sinan said...

Great post. I have family from the Gulf and it would seem that the idea that people from the Gulf are better than other peoples is common, whether it is the culture or even the religion.

Feelings like this lead to bad behavior. We see it here in the US where we think we are the best and most "this or that" in the world so we feel free to do as we wish.

6:23 AM  
Blogger Zainab Alkhawaja said...

Salam Palforce

Thank you but you're giving me too much credit. There are many people who are working on this issue, and God bless them for doing so. I hope someday we can spread the dream of equality in my country so that we can make a difference.

Abu Sinan

There are many in the Gulf who treat migrants as lesser beings, but it is interesting how they think of other migrants as higher. This was not in Bahraini culture, as you might have heard Bahrainis have been known for their hospitality and not racism. ANd it is defintly not religion, because religion prohibits this kind of behaviour.

Just by being good muslims, we would treat others as our equals.

Wish you guys all the best

9:50 AM  
Blogger Angelo Embuldeniya (Strav) said...

I'm not sure how wrong I might be... but the atitutde to treat those from other origins is slowly changing in Bahrain thanks to the people born from the 80's onwards....

yes the racism still exists in certain parts of the country... but hopefully.. soon this *discrimiation* will stop.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Chanad said...

You're very right about this Zainab, and it is a very welcome sign that Bahrainis like you and others at the MWG and elsewhere care enough about the plight of maids to do something.

In my opinion the problem stems from a lack of any substantial interaction between Bahrainis and expats today.. and so the two groups no longer care about each other, or has even created hostility between them. (I've detailed my thoughts about this on my own blog here and here).

I do hope, as Strav suggests, that our generation Bahrain residents (both locals and expats) will try harder to learn about each other.

10:00 AM  
Blogger SillyBahrainiGirl said...

There is no reason why you should be ashamed.

Those shameless people who continue to abuse their domestic helpers are the ones whose heads should be lowered in SHAME.

Unfortunately, in Wonderful Wonderland, not a lot of people know the meaning of this word.

3:26 PM  

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