Originally published in Gulf Daily News 21st April 2014 – Vol.XXXVII No.032
AUTHORITIES should urgently intervene to rehabilitate “brainwashed” young Bahrainis who are being used as “mobile bombs” to spread terror on the streets, according to legislators.
They fear the country’s younger generation is at risk as large numbers are on trial or have been jailed for attacking police or being part of terrorist cells.
Parliament’s human rights committee chairman Ahmed Al Sa’ati said it was unfortunate to see young Bahrainis aged between 18 and 25 being exploited with little being done to rehabilitate them.
“The problem is that we are just dealing with the symptoms rather than getting to the roots of the disease,” he told the GDN.
“For more than two years now, we have homemade bombs on the streets and sometimes even wait until they are found in the malls or other areas.”
His comments follow the deaths of two Bahrainis – Ahmed Abdulrasool Al Masjen, 16, and Ali Abas Ali Ahmed, 18 – in Meqsha on Saturday. They died when a homemade bomb they were transporting detonated in their car at around 3pm.
Another person was injured in the car blast and continues to be treated for second degree burns and other injuries at Salmaniya Medical Complex.
“We have seen similar cases but this was different as the two bodies were charred completely with only skeletons left…they were using lethal materials,” said Mr Al Sa’ati.
“The youth do not deserve to be killed on the streets and we desperately need to do something to assist these brainwashed boys and young men.
He urged authorities, especially the Education Ministry and the Supreme Council for Youth and Sport, to step up efforts to ensure the youths’ energy is channelled in the right direction.
He also called for mandatory nationwide after-school programmes and camps to train young people and keep them off the streets.
“We are not happy to see these young people put in jail despite being criminals and need to track down their ring leaders or those who control these illegal activities,” he added.
“More than 60 per cent of the population is under 25 years, who are being used by opposition groups in their demonstrations as part of their agenda because they know young people are like clay – they can be easily manipulated or even controlled.
“We cannot just sit and say it’s a political matter or see pictures of daily terrorism in Bahrain on Whatsapp. We are losing the power of the youth that builds nations.”
Al Fateh Youth Coalition spokesman Yacoub Al Slaise said young Bahrainis continue to suffer because of the ongoing crisis.
“Youth and children under 18 make up the bulk of vandals and rioters that damage private and public property in addition to daily clashes with police, leading in most cases to their arrest and unfortunately in some cases to death,” he said.
“It’s deeply saddening to see Bahraini youngsters fuelled by hatred, who throw their lives away through violence, and we as Bahrainis are just onlookers.”
He urged clerics and political leaders to play a role in ending domestic terrorism.