Yesterday, we cited a Yemenite newspaper's expose that scholarship slots for study in the US, UK, and Canada were being doled out to children of people tied to President Saleh's regime. "These students, who have a personal stake in the regime," we mused, "are going to be class A apologists for Yemen's status quo on American campuses."
But here's one interesting example of a Bahraini young woman studying in the US who recounts an incident on a public bus where she had to confront civil rights abuses back home:
Man: Hello, are you form Egypt?
Me: No I am from Bahrain. (with pride)
Man: Bahrain?? How are Asian and Indian maids treated there?
Me: emmm... (looking down and ashmed) well, honestly... bad.
Man: What do you mean by bad?
Me: (I thought of Anita Verma whom I had met personally) I mean bad as in neo-slavery. They have no rights and no laws to protect those rights. If the family is good then they are lucky. Otherwise, which is more common, they overwork for very low wages, and sometimes dont get paid at all. Also they get raped and have noway to protect themselves. On top of all that the family keeps their passports so they cannot go back to their countries without the families consent. Many commit suicide, I could go on and on.
Man: (giving me a bad look) Why do you treat them like that?
Me: Well, racism. I guess many people are born and raised treating Indians and other nationalities as an inferior race. They grow up believing it.
I love my country Bahrain and I love my people as well. But when it comes to this issue, I am ashamed. I wish I could have told that man that racism comes only from the upper class and not the average poor Bahraini. But I know that would be a lie.
Some PLUS students here criticize me for the negative things I say about my country when it comes to this issue and the the government. They say we are here in the States to give the best picture possible of our countries. However, I know that as a muslim it is my job to speak up when I see something wrong. We cannot cry for our democracy and turn around and abuse other people.
I would like to mention that not all Bahrainis are racist ofcourse. Many Bharainis work for the rights of Migrant workers. But in Bahraini society it has become something very normal to treat others with disrespect because of their origin.