The Problem with Moderates in Bahrain

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Moderate; “(of a person, party, or policy) not radical or excessively right- or left-wing”

The other day I was having dinner with a friend who is a Western diplomat, and as usual when socialising with diplomats in Bahrain (or anybody for that matter), the conversation inevitably turned to the situation in Bahrain.

The friend commented that the moderates should be more active, and make their voices heard. The only problem with that is, I explained, that moderates are just that: moderate.

I would say that most of the people in Bahrain are moderate, but their voices are drowned out by the extremes, and they didn’t have much of a voice to begin with.

Moderates go about their day-to-day lives with little or no interest in politics. They take their kids to school, focus on work, have a social life, and so on. They would never think of running for parliament, or going to the streets to protest. They have inactive or barely-active twitter accounts, and often don’t really understand the politics in the country.

Also, they often don’t really have an opinion on topics more politically active people care passionately about. And perhaps most importantly, they are afraid to speak their minds, for fear of attack from one side or the other, or of losing their social position.

Then of course there is no agreement on what a “moderate” really is. The term perhaps has become overused in Bahrain – perhaps even abused. For example, I consider myself a moderate, but there are those who consider me a fake, or firmly entrenched in one camp or the other.

You get kicked by both sides when you’re a so-called “moderate.” For the extremes, if you’re not with them you’re against them. They have very little tolerance for people in the middle.

Personally, I’d like to see more moderates make their voices heard, but I also understand their hesitation; they have a lot to lose.

Still, some risk and sacrifice is necessary, as a wise person once said “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

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