Nicholas Kristof to King Hamad: Release My Friend! "Among those whom you’re imprisoning in Bahrain is a friend of mine. He is an artist, one of the most gentle souls alive, and my deepest fear is that your government may be brutalizing him because of his friendship with me.
Your Majesty, I’m speaking of Hassan al-Sahaf. Now 57, he studied in Britain and then in Los Angeles, Boston and in Oregon, where my mother taught art history — and Hassan became one of my mother’s all-time favorite students. That was 30 years ago, but we have remained in touch ever since.
King Hamad, you present the crackdown on the democracy movement as an effort to restore order. But Hassan is not some teenage firebrand hurling rocks; he’s a slight, graying scholar committed to peace. That’s the pattern: So many of the people in your jails are doctors and intellectuals whose only offense is to dream of democracy.
Hassan told me that his time in America changed him: Once you get used to living in freedom, he explained, it’s hard to give it up. One of your burdens, Your Majesty, is that you educated so many of your people abroad that they no longer accept your despotism."