The Libya Effect in Bahrain

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Marco Werman: The uprising against Gaddafi is part of a larger movement. The Arab Spring began with the toppling of leaders of Tunisia and Egypt. Protests then spread to Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. Those regimes remain in power, but the Libyan uprising could embolden protestors in all three countries. Matar Matar was a member of Parliament in Bahrain when the uprising began there. He resigned in May to protest the government crackdown. He was detained in prison until his release this month. Matar Matar is in the Bahraini capital, Manama. He says Bahrain's opposition is taking inspiration from events in Libya.

Matar Matar: Yeah, I think the change is coming. Yeah, at the point it is a hope for us.

Werman: What does it mean for Bahrainis that just like your own protests, the Libyan protests were shutdown by the government, but against all odds, rebels pushed on, a lot of blood was shed and now they're in the capital. What does that mean to Bahrainis?

Matar: In fact, those regimes are trying to spread the fear among their peoples. They are saying some myth that they are the only one who can control and save the country, and they have the good relation with all tribals, and without their relation nobody can control the country. And it's difficult for our country to move toward democracy. The case in Libya shows that all these myths are not true.

Werman: You know, it's interesting, Bahraini officials support the removal of Muammar Gaddafi from power in Libya. They seem to back the Arab Spring outside Bahrain, but inside Bahrain it's a different story. What do you make of that?

Matar: Acknowledge it at all and in fact, the support that this regime is having because it doesn't have enough coverage about their crimes here, they are saying whatever they want and nobody is responding to their policies. We don't see any logic in supporting the change in Libya while they are violating the basic human rights here in Bahrain.

Werman: And if you turn on your TV tonight to watch the news in Bahrain and Manama, are you gonna see pictures of what's happening in Tripoli?

Matar: Yeah, they are talking about full support because as you know, the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Libya, this means the media is supporting the change there. And also they are supporting the change in Syria and they ask Bashar al-Assad to step down. Why if you compare the situation in Bahrain, comparing with our population, the number of people who were killed, the number of people who were fired from their jobs, and were tortured, and who died in custody, those numbers compared with our population are very high. So the size of crimes which happening here I don't see it different than the crimes in Syria for example, or in Libya.

Werman: Matar Matar, you've been arrested. You spend three months in jail, 45 days in solitary confinement. Are you personally driven at this point by what's happening in Libya?

Matar: Still I'm insisting and all the Bahrainis here are insisting to continue. In fact, it was very difficult days that I faced in the prison, even though we don't have choices here, our, the unique choice we have is to continue. Whatever they are going to do we are going to continue our denounce.

Werman: Matar Matar is a member of the opposition, Al-Wefaq party in Bahrain. He spoke with us from Bahrain's capital, Manama. Thank you very much indeed for your time.

Matar: Thanks.