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Al Wefaq rights claims becoming more bizarre!

Is the opposition joking this time? A charity belonging to Prince Charles of Great Britain has signed a deal to build 4,000 homes for the poorest communities in Bahrain - and Al Wefaq Islamic Society attacks him for it!

One of the obvious legitimate grievances of poorer communities in Bahrain is the lack of cheap housing. A major area of investment for the Bahraini government over the past two years has been in housing projects, to address this need. Yet, Al Wefaq doesn't seem concerned by the interests of its own constituency, choosing to make the bizarre and inexplicable statement that building homes for poor Bahrainis gives a "green light" to human rights abuses.

A few weeks ago we heard Bahrain's opposition making a similar fuss about a Scottish initiative to support education in Bahrain: Apparently funding efforts to improve the education of Bahraini children meant "trampling over people's human rights".

The head of Al Wefaq Islamic Society, Sheikh Ali Salman, recently announced his intention to continue protests, rioting, boycotts and strikes until the 2014 parliamentary elections and beyond - in spite of the ongoing National Dialogue process. The implication of this is not only that Al Wefaq seeks to strike down all housing, education and development initiatives - but that they want to obstruct all such activity for the development of Bahrain - indefinitely.

Prince Charles has been accused by Al Wefaq of lending credibility to the Bahraini government. If they mean that Prince Charles is better-enabling Bahrain's leaders to act for the wellbeing of ordinary Bahrainis, then this criticism is absolutely right.

Bahrain's leaders should be building homes, providing services, improving education, creating jobs and improving the welfare of all Bahrainis. If they succeed, then they deserve credibility and respect - and they will have achieved a good deal more than many governments across the region. Unfortunately, Al Wefaq wants the government to fail, and therefore any individual or organisation providing services or assistance to Bahrain is branded an 'enemy of Bahrain'.

There is only one logical way in which Al Wefaq's statement can be understood: They actually want to make things worse for their own supporters - they want things to get so bad that they make a revolutionary situation inevitable.

We see plenty of evidence of this already: Attractive traditional areas of Bahrain have been turned into war zones: roadsides completely burnt out by weekly tyre-burning; walls defaced by graffiti; the air polluted by Molotov cocktails and tear gas; businesses closed due to continuous strikes and self-imposed sieges.

You can understand why people are angry in these areas, because they are living in a scene from hell - made worse by rioting.

This is perfect for Al Wefaq and other extremist groups because they are creating a ripe situation for social unrest and violence.

Has anybody calculated how much money is being wasted in managing the security situation and cleaning up after riots; how much money is lost through economic stagnation in areas of unrest; how much the interests of Bahrainis are damaged by police and local authorities managing the ongoing crisis rather than spending their time serving the public?

By continuing the unrest and keeping the resources of the state tied up in this way, Al Wefaq is further ensuring that tens of millions of dollars are not being spent for the development of Bahrain.

By building tens of thousands of homes and making life better for people, immediately, this solves many of the reasons for dissatisfaction of these communities. Young families can move into sparkling new homes, providing an attractive and pleasant environment for their children and creating a climate of hope.

Extremists within Al Wefaq don't want this. It doesn't suit their agenda for ordinary Bahrainis to be happy, content and enjoying better lives - they want to keep their constituents in burning hell-holes so that they can profit from the anger, social disappointment and revolutionary aspirations.

Luckily we now have two Crown Princes who have Bahrain's best interests at heart - we have His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier, whose work on the Economic Development Board and Vision 2030 has created, jobs, hope and economic prospects for tens of thousands of Bahrainis, as well as spearheading National Dialogue and reconciliation.

However, we can also be grateful to Prince Charles for being willing to invest in Bahrain and support urban development and providing homes for thousands of families. This is truly a good thing he is doing for Bahrain, and even Bahrainis who have little sympathy for their government will have good reasons to appreciate Prince Charles' role in improving their lives.

We hope that these Bahrainis will come to realise that those building homes, developing education, creating jobs and improving services are working for them and deserve their support - those advocating violence, revolution and social chaos do not.

Citizens for Bahrain

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:7BAHR
Date:May 20, 2013
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