It’s okay to say apartheid…but only about Bahrain

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Nicholas Kristof tweets that Bahrain is “apartheid-like” on the news that the country has sentenced doctors to prison for treating demonstrators during this year’s uprising in Bahrain.  Anthony Shadid, the veteran New York Times Middle East correspondent, also used the term “apartheid” in a recent piece on Bahrain:

Five months after the start of a ferocious crackdown against a popular uprising — so sweeping it smacks of apartheidlike repression of Bahrain’s religious majority — many fear that no one can win.

It’s true that the Bahraini state is, at the very least, “apartheid-like” for its brutal repression of and discrimination against the majority Shi’a population.  It’s also true that Bahrain, and occasionally Saudi Arabia, are the only countries that the New York Times would dare call apartheid states.  Perhaps Bahrain would escape the label if its prime minister was named Benjamin Netanyahu.


Shadid outlines what tools the government is using in the repression of Bahraini activists:  torture, arrests, discrimination, killing, bulldozing Shiite mosques and more. 

A very similar situation is the everyday reality in Israel/Palestine.  There, an apartheid state [pdf] that privileges one ethnicity over another tortures, arrests, discriminates, kills and bulldozes the property of its non-Jewish subjects.  Apartheid, anyone?  Yes, but not in the New York Times.

Alex Kane is a New York City-based freelance journalist who blogs on Israel/Palestine at  Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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