Thursday, June 04, 2009

Promises Kept

June 3, 2009
Op-Ed Contributor

Promises Kept

Manama, Bahrain

WHEN President Obama addresses the Muslim world tomorrow I have one main request: Be careful when you use the words “change” “dream” and “democracy.” Those things don’t come so easily to us.

When George W. Bush stopped by Bahrain last year, I tried to give him a petition with more than 80,000 signatures stating that Bahrain is not a beacon of democracy, as he and his secretary of state seemed to believe. The American Embassy here promised to pass the petition to the White House, but its fate remains unclear. This petition calls for our right to draft a democratic constitution.

Those who seek “change” here pay dearly. I was arrested at dawn last January, held in solitary confinement and accused of trying to overthrow the kingdom’s regime. After international and local pressure I was released and pardoned, but my case is still technically suspended. My two blogs and Facebook posts are blocked and people in Bahrain do not have direct access to them.
It would be good if Mr. Obama vowed to support democracy and human rights. But he should talk about these ideals only if he is willing to help us fulfill them.

Abduljalil Alsingace is an associate professor of engineering at the University of Bahrain.