Bahrain: Shouting In The Dark Essays Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Middle East, Bahrain, Development, Sociology, Politics, Media, Government, Family

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2021/01/03


Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark is a 2011 documentary film by Al-Jazeera about the events that took place in Bahrain in 2011, which many say was an offshoot of the Arab Spring revolts in Egypt and Tunisia. This short paper will review the events within the context of sociology and of how change can occur in society.

Social Change in Bahrain

Many theories of social change point out to the fact that social change occurs because individuals no longer desire the current paradigm, and continue to search for a better paradigm (Giddens, 2013). In Bahrain, what had occurred was that many individuals were no longer content with the social and economic inequities surrounding them. It is mentioned in the film that there are many foreign workers in Bahrain occupying positions that pay well, but that many indigenous Arabs in the nation are unemployed. They live in substandard homes and are denied basic services. There is also the atrocious story of a choice piece of land being developed as a high-end luxury area that was sold by the government to the Khalifa family for a single dinar. If the government does not take measures to quell these desires and the feelings of resentment aroused by these inequities, then people will clamor for social change, and this is precisely what led to the uprisings in 2011. The show of force and the violence committed by the ruling Khalifa family against the Bahraini people all served to incite the people more, and to demonstrate more.
Oppression did also lead to a desire for social change. The spiel on the Salmaniyya hospital showed how the state controlled the media in order to present that the hospital was the site where Sunni doctors and nurses were being held hostage by their Shia counterparts. This was immediately repudiated by a Sunni lady physician at the hospital, denying these charges that were aired on national television (Al Jazeera, 2011).

Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera is a media network operating in the Gulf region, although it also operates channels seen in major cable networks worldwide. It is technically owned by the Qatar government. The network has been the source of rifts between gulf states, and during a split in the discussions during the Gulf Cooperation Council, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE pulled out their ambassadors from Qatar (Gulf News, 2014). It has endeavored to present what had happened in Bahrain during this period without any bias, and the voice behind the video speaks with very little or almost no emotion, simply stating as a matter-of-factly the events that transpired at the time. There is no request to join and support the protests, but rather what had happened from both sides were shown in the short film. In its website, Al-Jazeera professes to always be on the lookout for the plight of the Middle Eastern people, and during this siege in Bahrain, it indeed lived up to its promise.

Bahrain Uprising and Arab Spring

The Arab Spring was a series of violent and non-violent protests beginning in 2010 in countries in the Middle East – North African sector, mainly as protests against the inequities created by their respective governments, or with the way the leadership of these governments have conducted themselves. In Tunisia, not soon after protests began in 2010, the government of then President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown, with the President himself fleeing to Saudi Arabia to seek exile and asylum. In addition to this, so far, dialogues were conducted with the various diverse sectors of society, leading to the adoption of a new Constitution (Al Monitor, 2014). With the advent of globalization and the increased use of social media, the events in Tunisia clearly awakened the consciousness of peoples and societies in the region who desired to attain a new paradigm, and a more egalitarian way of life in their countries. Thus one could say that the events in Bahrain are the local version of Arab Spring in that country.


Perhaps the biggest change that has happened across the MENA region is that there has been a change in the consciousness of the people. They are better educated, and understand that there is the possibility of a change in the paradigm for the better as well. Another big change is the role that women played in the desire for change. It was quite fascinating to watch women speaking on the stage and men in the crowd attentive, while listening to what they had to say. Unfortunately, for Bahrain, despite the change in consciousness and a desire for change in society and in the leadership of the country, a violent crackdown was launched against the protesters, against the families, and against the very brave medical personnel of the Salmaniyya Hospital, who wished nothing more but to provide the best medical care for their patients and to live out their Hippocratic oaths (Al-Jazeera, 2011).
In Tunisia, as mentioned earlier, there has been dialogue with the opposition, and a new Constitution that recognizes more human rights is now in effect. In other places, the effect of social media in these processes has to be more closely examined so as to determine how effective the use of social media has been in terms of certain parameters, such as levels of awareness, frequency of protests, numbers of protesters, and the like. Hosni Mubarak, the long-running President of Egypt, resigned amidst similar protests as well (Willis, 2011).
Unfortunately for the Bahraini protesters, the royal families of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, a close neighbor, closed ranks. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was quick to send troops and equipment in order to crush the protesters. The monarchies are thus intact and still in power. If the Al Khalifa family was to be deposed at this point in time, it would be a good event in the name of democracy and equality, but the country would certainly still be overcome by the Saudi government which might become its caretaker government. Also, as the Al Khalifa family has been in power for quite some time already, the current opposition may have difficulties forming a caretaker government until a new Constitution is put in place. The ruling family will certainly not go out without a fight, and it would certainly sow more dissent among their loyal followers, who would thus also go out and take things out on the protesters. There would then be civil war, and the violence would certainly continue thereafter. If Saudi Arabia takes away its support for the ruling family, then perhaps there would be a chance for the opposition to lay the groundwork for a more equitable and modern-thinking administration.
Finally, it has been difficult to fathom why the United States has remained silent on the matter while it continues to champion to cause of democracy. It condemns acts of totalitarian rule and Communist rule in China, but has been quiet about the Bahraini uprisings. This may be because Bahrain is protected by Saudi Arabia, and the latter is a staunch ally of the United States, being the stalwart of America in the Middle East. Many analysts and observers have been critical of this silence; saying this inconsistency will not augur well for the United States and its efforts to promote democracy and its ideals abroad; and will cause many others to continue to resent this country and what it stands for, being perceived as an oppressive power.


Al-Jazeera English. (2011, August 04). Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark. [Video file]. Retrieved from:
Al Monitor. 2014. Tunisian Elections Intensify Focus on Alliances. Retrieved from:
Bly, L. 2011.
Giddens, A. 2013. Social Theory and Modern Sociology. NY: Wiley.
Gulf News. 2014. UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain Recall their Ambassadors from Qatar. Retrieved from:
Willis, A. 2011. Egypt Protests: The Resignation of Mubarak as it Happened. Retrieved from:

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