Infra Dignitatem: Iain Lindsay’s latest insult to the dignity becoming a British Ambassador

British Ambassador to Bahrain Iain Lindsay’s sky-diving stunt at the recent Bahrain International Airshow was bad enough, an “everything’s back to normal” stunt that combined a gross disrespect to the sufferings of the Bahraini people with the toe-curling embarrassment one feels at the sight of a break-dancing vicar or a middle-aged dad wearing a back-to-front baseball cap.
Now we read in the Bahrain regime’s English language mouthpiece the Gulf Daily News reports a new affront to the dignity of the position of Her Majesty’s Ambassador:

Meeting with British expatriates at the British Club in Al Mahouz to explain contingency plans to evacuate Britons from Bahrain if the security situation deteriorated further is fair enough. The sort of thing one ought to expect from an Ambassador in times of crisis.

But that’s not enough for Lindsay. Britons assembled at the British Club we lectured about how “the UK’s giving strong political support to His Majesty King Hamad and the government and providing practical, ongoing assistance to the authorities.”

I suppose this is the sort of thing that Russian expats hear at the Russian embassy in Damascus, “Russia is giving strong political support to President Assad….” &ct, &ct, ad nauseam. So Syrians die, as Bahrainis are dying.

Lindsay continued, “There are always going to be people on the fringes that aren’t interested in reform and it’s not in their agenda and we recognise that”. Too right! Perhaps he means Bahrain’s Prime Minister, or maybe the Royal Court Minister? Or even bandits like 3***** 27**

Our man in Manama was on a roll: “….but there is still a reality that there are a chunk of people who either don’t want to see Bahrain move forward and others who aren’t interested in reform and want something more radical….” Humm, yes, those people who are trying to fast-track “union” with Saudi Arabia, perhaps?

No chance! Lindsay was responding to a question from the expat hang ’em and flog ’em crowd about “Bahrainis who incite violence and hatred from London”.

This, Mr Lindsay said, “had been discussed with the authorities”. Which “authorities”? Britain’s? Bahrain’s?

Apparently, “information on particular individuals has been passed to the British government and had been followed up”. Ah! Follow up! So what information, from whom? Does this “information’ carry, or is assumed to carry, an ambassadorial endorsement? Is it verifiable?

“They have to have broken UK laws” Lindsay noted. Drat! We still have due process in the UK after all!

He continued, “the UK does have some of the toughest counter-terrorism laws on the planet”. Terrorism? OMG, the “T”-word!

Is Lindsay aware of the virulently anti-Western rhetoric coming from the extreme Salafite, pro-Saudi “loyalists”, you know, the kinds of Bahraini “loyalists” who are so loyal they want to annex Bahrain to Saudi?

Probably Lindsay hasn’t read this stuff, at least not in Arabic, since unlike previous UK ambassadors to Bahrain our former man in Hong Kong has no background in either Arabic or in Middle Eastern area studies, so he has to read other people’s appreciations and interpretations.

If he had been able to read this stuff in the original language, he’d know that so-called “loyalist” anti-Westernism is far closer, rhetorically, politically, philosophically, theologically to the kinds of violent extremism that pose a real and present danger to the UK than anything that’s ever likely to come from the Bahrain opposition. When is AQ not AQ? Why, when they are on “our” side, I guess.

So Lindsay rambled on, “I know some of the agencies and police in the UK been looking at some individuals”, oh really? Which “agencies”? Which “individuals”?

I may self have been accused of “sectarian activity”, being “pro-terrorist”, and “a threat to national security” by the Bahrain regime for doing nothing more than standing by my professional ethics and speaking up for human rights and academic freedom. Ditto my wife. We’re barred from entering Bahrain, and are on an arrest list if we do find a way in. Even my three year-old daughter is barred. But then she was born in Jidd Hafs.

Are such unfiltered, inaccurate information about me and others to be passed on to the British police and “other agencies” by Lindsay, with his apparent endorsement? Who does he work for, Britain or Bahrain? If someone like me falls victim to this, what about Bahrainis who are in the UK on visas, or indefinite leave to remain?

“We have made it very clear to the Bahrain authorities if you have any evidence that people in the UK are inciting violence or sectarianism from London let us have the information because we don’t want this happening and we will take action against them”, Lindsay says. So what is it to be, Iain, “evidence” or “information”?

And “people in the UK”, which people? What violence? From where I stand, it seems to me that the FCO’s stand via-a-vis the Bahrain regime has pretty much made the FCO, to borrow a phrase from social services “an enabler” of violence and abuse. Perhaps I should report the FCO to the police and “other agencies”.

Lindsay wasn’t shy though, continuing, “We do get information from Bahrainis and we do pass it on to the police in the UK”.

Ah-haa information. I’m sure the regime has “information” on everyone who’s ever dared criticize them. So have all these now to become “terrorists”?

This comes dangerously close to advocating that the British police and “other agencies” become an extension of the Bahrain state’s apparatus of oppression and surveillance. It was a day of shame for the profession of British diplomacy.

If Lindsay cannot distinguish between his duties to the British government and the British taxpayers who pay his salary, and his desire to kowtow the Bahrain regime, he’d better find a different profession. 3ayyeb 3alayk


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