Monday, February 21, 2011
Bahraini Shia should reach out to Sunnis
Nicholas Kristof writes about the protests in Bahrain: "Two things bother me about the protests. One is that the participants are overwhelmingly Shia. I’ve met a few Sunni on the roundabout, but very, very few – and that makes it less authentic and broad-based an opposition movement than it should be. There are lots of disgruntled Sunni, but they don’t go out on the streets, either because they don’t feel comfortable in a Shia-dominated movement or because their families work in the army or police (as many poor Sunnis do) and would get in severe trouble for doing so. Nonetheless, the protest organizers could try harder to reach out to the Sunni community, and a first step would be to stop the “Death to al-Khalifa” chants and similar slogans. The other day I saw a sign reading “Imagine Bahrain without the al-Khalifas.” That kind of thing is utterly inappropriate. The opposition has to do what Nelson Mandela did so brilliantly in South Africa – make clear that majority rule will not lead to persecution of the minority. Every time the democracy movement scrawls “Death to Al-Khalifa” on a sign, it erodes its own legitimacy before the world."