An open letter to President Obama
The following is a letter sent by Samira Rajab, journalist and columnist, in response to Nicholas Kristof's editorial "Open Letter from Nabeel Rajab to President Obama", in The New York Times of April 9. The NYT unfortunately only published selected parts of her reply, contrary to ethics of transparency and objectivity.
For a more balanced and accurate understanding of the realities it reflects ... here it is published in full
Dear President Obama,
I am sending this letter to you in response to the one from Nabeel Rajab, published on April 9, 2015, in The New York Times. I hope The New York Times will publish it with respect to one of the fundamental principles and values of freedom of expression, the right of reply.
I am Samira Rajab, the cousin of Nabeel Rajab, and I am also a Bahraini citizen. My country allows me to exercise my full rights as a human being, a citizen and a woman. I have never felt any kind of discrimination in my country in my whole long life.
For years I have worked as a liberal journalist-columnist, and never feared any subject. I've mainly written opinion and editorial pieces, and throughout my career, I never felt any restrictions on my right to Press freedom. Authorities in Bahrain have never asked me to change any of my articles or stopped me from writing or publishing them, despite the diversity of my opinions and my independence.
But I can assure you, Mr President, that I'm subjected to the threat of "intellectual terrorism" from political radical Islamist groups, especially when I wrote against the engagement of clerics in politics and its consequences on the decline of human rights and freedom in general. This terrorism has been threatening my life every day, for the past 10 years.
Unfortunately, I haven't received any support from "human rights activists" like Nabeel Rajab. He and his colleagues never advocated people rights and especially for women like me, because our voices are not the ones they want heard in the world.
Mr Rajab is indeed an activist, but not for "human rights", he misuses this title only to work against the State and protect radical ideologies in my country, especially the one called "Welayat-elfagih" (Islamic Government: Governance of the Jurist).
This also explains why Nabeel Rajab didn't utter a word to defend the rights of Bahraini Shi'ite women when the followers of this radical ideology rejected the personal status and family law, which had been discussed by Bahrain's parliament and objected to by the Al Wefaq Shi'ite bloc in 2008.
As a result, these Bahraini Shi'ite women live with the absence of a civil law, which protects their family and legitimate rights.
Dear Mr President, these sentences were necessary to introduce myself, before I reply to the message Nabeel Rajab has sent to you and which slandered my country, the Kingdom of Bahrain.
I received promotion to many positions including member of the Shura Council, Minister of Information, and now serve as a Special Envoy at the Royal Court at the rank of Minister.
I received all these ranks based on my efficiency, and because of policies that have given women equal opportunities and which we have become accustomed to in our country.
President Obama, Bahrain is a civilised constitutional monarchy and has a pluralised society that has long been well known for its civilisation, open culture, social prestige and perfect co-existence of all its religious and racial sects.
Moreover, security has been during all history, the most important feature of our society, due to the peaceful and tolerant people of Bahrain.
However, a number of radicals have started, in recent years, to distort this beautiful and real image in the media. Some of them, like Mr Rajab and his friends, actually misuse the noble cause of "human rights" as a mask for their real radical political intentions.
It is a shame that what they have done was based on lies, and aimed at depicting Bahrain as "the Devil" in an attempt to transform it to a black spot on the map for pure political reasons.
Mr President, "freedom of speech" does not mean the call for violence and chaos, and freedom does not give a person the right to lie especially if such lies preach hatred, racism and intend to destabilise society and destroy the country.
Unfortunately, Mr Nabeel Rajab has unduly used his freedom of speech to target the security of Bahrain, spread racism, hate speeches and violate all constitutional and legal regulations.
In addition, his actions have encouraged some youths to carry out violent practices and terrorist attacks in Bahrain which have resulted, during the past three years, in thousands being injured and a number of deaths of security and police officers who have been doing nothing but trying to control the situation.
Mr President, the Kingdom of Bahrain has exerted great efforts for a long time to build democracy and freedom within its practices, laws and foundations.
But we as a society are facing a serious threat from radical groups and some "activists" are spreading violence, chaos, physical and intellectual terrorism.
So I hope that you and your nation will listen to all different opinions and not to one person, who doesn't represent the majority or the rationality trend of our society.
President Obama, as you know, democratic values ensure the rights of all people and not only those who spread their lies in the mass media. We as Bahrainis hope that the media will finally be neutral and fair and not follow just the voices of radicals, whose aim is to put women under cover, and split our society by inciting sectarianism.
Samira Rajab Journalist-columnist
A woman from Bahrain