Historian Jassim Al-Abbas's Crime: Documenting "Non-Official" History
2020-02-07 - 10:26 م
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): This is what Bahrain has come to. Searching Bahrain's ancient history and presenting a narrative not accepted by the authorities has become a crime punishable by law. The Public Prosecution ordered the arrest of Bahraini historian Jassim Al-Abbas detaining him for 7 days pending investigation over the charge of publishing false information about a historical incident. Al-Abbas was taken into custody after he was summoned for interrogation on January 30, 2020.
Jassim Al-Abbas isn't a political activist. Looking into history is the main focus of his work, whose website "Sanawat Al-Jareesh" is a reference for anyone concerned with old Bahraini history that has been marginalized by the regime.
The historian established "Sanawat Al-Jareesh" in 2004, which did not please the authorities. Several hacking attempts were made against his blog, aiming at damaging its content. After 2011, Jassim created an Instagram account with the same name and started posting on it historical information and documents he obtained about Bahrain scholars, figures, mosques and other historical sites.
The authorities did not like it, of course, and remained lurking. However, Al-Abbas's commitment to historical research and his distance from any political discourse made it more difficult for the authorities, who apparently decided to put an end to him now. The claim used is spreading "false information". Once Al-Abbas was remanded, his blog was closed. It was no longer possible to reach Al-Abbas or his blog.
Journalist Adel Marzooq commented on Al-Abbas arrest, saying: "There is no explanation for this but that he was offering a research effort that does not appeal to the state," adding that "Bahrain, according to what the state wants, is [defined] in the selected and distorted information provided by school books, just as the identity of the ‘Bahraini' which has been confiscated."
"Writing history is forbidden in Bahrain, as well as expressing opinions, demonstrating, performing Friday prayers, paying alms, demanding a decent livelihood and revealing the truth. Everything is forbidden! Maybe one day we'll be prevented from eating and breathing. Life may become forbidden to us!" Sayed Mahdi Al-Mousawi said.
For his part, journalist Abbas Bu Safwan stressed that: "Researcher Jassim doesn't work in politics, and he has never expressed an anti-government opinion. The authorities' problem with him is that they consider him to be a contributor in confirming a history they want to erase. The authorities don't want him to write anything in Sanawat Al-Jareesh as they want to monopolize the history and future, not only the present. A historian like him threatens this act of monopolization.