One of my sources for information from the revolution in Bahrain agreed to sit down for an interview via email last night. For security I'll use only her first name and a small bit of biographical information. I know for a fact that some of the updates I have posted in the last week have been monitored by authorities in Libya, so I can only assume that the digital web spreads elsewhere.
I hope that Zainab's insights will help people outside of Bahrain understand a little better the hopes and fears of a young woman in the midst of revolution.
JS: If you could give just a small bit of background. I understand if you feel it is best to remain as anonymous as possible and I respect that, but if you could possibly tell us what field you may work in, etc. Just so my readers can identify with you better.
Zainab: "Hi Jack, I'm happy to answer your questions. My name's is Zainab. I am not working at the moment because I have a one year old daughter and I have decided to be a full time mum for a couple of yrs :) Although to be honest since the revolution I'm only a half time mum.
JS: What is your biggest fear for the future of your country and the region?
Zainab: "My biggest fear for the future of my country and region is for outside forces to intervene and support dictators who have no right to rule. I am confident that our people are strong and patient enough to overthrow these corrupt and ruthless governments, but if countries like America decide to intervene on behalf of the dictators they will make our journey to freedom so much harder and we will have to sacrifice so much more. So I hope they will let us determine our future ourselves."
JS: What message do you think the people in the US need to hear that they may not be hearing from the general media?
Zainab: "The American people need to know that we admire their love of freedom and democracy, and we want the same in our countries. Our problem is with American foreign policy which puts US interests in the region above freedom and democracy. The US administration is willing to support a dictator who tortures and kills his people as long as it's in their best interest. That has been the problem all along: Arab peoples feeling trapped because they can't fight an oppressor who is backed by the most powerful country in the world."
JS: How do you see the revolution in Bahrain affecting the lives of women going forward into the future?
Zainab: "So far in the revolution I have been very impressed. The women are very strong and well spoken. They are chanting alongside the men, they are speaking on the stage, and they are writing poetry. There are women who are also living on the roundabout [Ed. Note: Pearl Roundabout]. I also see men admiring the Bahraini women’s strength, and saying they cannot win this revolution without the women. These two things side by side make me certain that if we do get our freedom, we will all be equals. I don’t think these strong women will let anyone oppress them."
JS: Is this purely a "people's revolution" or are there established anti-government groups involved?
Zainab: "There are established anti-government groups of course, but they did not start this revolution. As we got attacked they were not there, however after our victory of taking martyrs square the second time, they have shown up. Some are rightfully saying this is the people's revolution and the people will decide its outcome, while others are trying to take over the revolution, and to start negotiating with the regime, going against the people's chants of overthrowing the monarchy. I hope these political societies back down and let the people who started this revolution make the decisions."
JS: Are you in fear for your own personal safety or the safety of your family if the revolution fails to make a significant change?
Zainab: "Yes. Me and other young activists are always saying, that if this revolution did not succeed we will be the first to go. We laugh about it, but inside we are afraid because we know its true. In 2001 there were negotiations between the people and King Hamad, we believed things would get better, but then the arrests and torture started again. Our regime never forgets a face. They know the opposition well, and they always take revenge. If we don't overthrow this regime, we should either live in fear or leave our beloved country, both very horrible choices."
Ed. Note: Bahrain's current government is defined as a Constitutional Monarchy, headed by King Hamad, but in reality the King wields complete power over the State. The ruling class in Bahrain comes from the Sunni minority, while Shi'ites make up the majority in the country.