Mahmood Al-Yousif, a Bahraini blogger – seen in the video here discussing the preservation of national historic sites and his love for Bahrain – was arrested overnight by the regime’s security forces. They came for him at 3am local time. As I write this, it is seven hours later, and his brother Hani reports that “We don’t know where he’s held.”
Mahmood, a moderate voice for peaceful resolution of the current conflict in Bahrain, joins over 250 detainees arrested over the past two weeks. In addition, 44 more people are simply missing. Mahmood has been a voice of calm and patriotism, calling for dialogue and unity:
The demands of the Bahraini people are quite simple and universal: we need more democracy, guaranteed human rights and freedoms all leading to the opportunity to live with dignity. Do we really need any dialogue to enact these points? Of course not. The King can enact them immediately and the sooner the better. The regime has already unequivocally accepted the need for a more encompassing constitution, so what’s the harm in his majesty immediately declaring steps to initiate the formation of an elected constitutional council to discuss, agree and formulate this new constitution?
Once this critical step is taken, talks about all other matters can start and peace and calmness can truly be restored, and this time, for the long term, rather than the current intractable situation resulted in nothing but Pyrrhic victories.
Or, take a look at Mahmood’s biographical note at the Rotary Club of Adliya of which he is the president.
And then tell me what makes Mahmood such a threat that he must be arrested and detained?
On Tuesday, I was on a “blogger call” with Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications. Rhodes was talking with us about President Obama’s speech Monday night justifying the war in Libya and he said “Gadaffi has ceded his legitimacy by attacks on his people so as a matter of policy we believe it would be better if Gadaffi went.”
When I asked Rhodes why Libya warranted a military intervention when the government of Bahrain has also attacked its people, his response was that when the President spoke to the king of Bahrain, he had expressed his “concern” about any violence used against protesters.
That’s it. We’re “concerned.”
As Toby Jones of Rutgers said to Al Ahram this week:
“The US has given private assurances to the Bahrainis that they want the Al-Khalifa to remain in power, making very clear that while they would not publicly support a crackdown (and have denounced its ferocity), they also would not walk away from the Al-Khalifa in the short term,” explained Jones. “But the US has also demonstrated a double standard in how it is defining ‘just’ outcomes — by cracking down on Libya’s Gaddafi but turning a blind eye to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, the US continues to project a muddled set of values to the rest of the region and the world.”
How very muddled, indeed, when the White House supports a regime that arrests someone like Mahmood Al-Yousif.
You can follow news of Mahmood at the twitter tag #FreeMahmood.