Leave Bahraini students out of protests, say parents and elders

March 2, 2011

Bahrain on Wednesday morning was gearing up for another day of massive rallies – now a regular feature since protests started in the island country on February 14.

Hundreds of school students staged a demonstration in front of the education ministry and the information affairs authority in Isa Town on Wednesday morning. The rally went ahead despite passionate pleas by concerned parents on radio and television asking protestors to avoid involving schools in their demonstrations that have hit the Gulf state for the last two weeks.

On Tuesday, clashes between Sunni and Shiite students in a girls’ high school in Hamad Town led parents to pull out their daughters and to urge officials and families to ensure that schools remain safe places. Several other schools were also left empty after students walked out or preferred not to attend classes.

“What should we do now?” one parent said on Bahrain Radio. “If we do not let our children go to school, they will not learn and will have problems when sitting their exams. But, if we encourage them to go, they do not feel really safe,” the woman said.

On Bahrain Television, Saeed Al Hamad, a leading columnist in Bahrain, said students belong to schools and not on the streets.

“We understand that people have the right to protest or stage sit-ins, but these should not be with children or young students. They should be at school,” said the veteran columnist.

Political activism

The education minister has come under intense fire from protesters after he moved to sign up volunteer substitute teachers to replace teachers who went on strike.

Majed Al Nuaimi said his move was based on the premise that students cannot be left without teachers and should not be the victims of political activism.

Thousands of retired teachers and fresh graduates responded to the call and signed up to teach the students.

However, as the minister started sifting through the applications, the teachers called off their strike. But, as the teachers walked in, students started to walk out, ostensibly to join protests.

On Tuesday evening, a small group of protesters attempted to stage a demonstration near the financial district of Manama, but was eventually persuaded to confine its action to the Pearl Roundabout.

People calling for national unity said they would stage a massive rally after the Maghreb (sunset) prayers to assert their presence.

The demonstrators, mostly Sunnis who claim that they are concerned about being left out in any possible national dialogue between Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa and the protesters, said they were keen on making their voices heard. The rally will be the second in as many weeks and will be held around the Al Fateh Mosque, a few kilometres from the Pearl Roundabout, the epicentre of protests, but at the other end of the capital.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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