Rule of law sounds like a nice concept, unless you're one of those who in the past couple of decades or so considered themselves to be above and beyond any law. Take the so-called Malkiya "powerful man": Malkiya is a small Bahraini fishing village, meaning that access to the sea is the lifeline of Malkiya's people. Now theoretically, Malkiya's shore is public property, except that a certain powerful person happened to be "granted" land by the sea.
In Bahrain, land distribution is a huge problem. Throughout the past years (or at least until the present King's time), lands have been distributed right and left in a semi-tribal fashion of ruler granting land his family and friends out of "generosity" (well, that's my polite word for it). The Malkiya "strong person" is just one of those who happened to be owning this piece of land by the sea. He also happens to believe that laws do not apply to him just like they never applied to his father. In 2005, he started building an illegal "separation wall" that would have cut the fishermen's access to the public shore. The owner didn't even bother to get a building permit and was extending the wall almost 2.5Km into the sea. Of course, normally you would expect some legal action to be taken to A. Stop it and B. punish this outright violation. But since he is "powerful," neither the Ministry of Municipalities, municipal council, nor the parliament could do anything. At the end, after significant embarrassment and press coverage, the King "talked" to the guy and he (graciously) agreed to stop building the wall.
Now the same person has decided to pull another antic. Why should the villager be fishing on "his" shore? and why bother with a professional fishing license and what not? Surely powerful people can exploit marine resources themselves?
Well, technically no. You actually do need a license and there are types of fishing geer you cannot use which he is using. Problem. Another problem is that the annoying people of Malkiya continue to be an inconvenience to our man. Last Saturday, the area people and fisherman demonstrated against the violator. The demonstration was licensed by the Ministry of Interior under the Public Gatherings Law (rediculous, for discussion at some other point), and was lead by a number of respected political activists in Bahrain such as Hassan Mushaima'a and Ebrahim Sharif. Predictably, though, the demonstration turned violent. Granted, some demonstrators must have been over-excited, but it is a disappointement that police forces would resort to mass violence and tear gas. After all those years, the Ministry forces are still incapable of separating between "arrest of disruptive persons" and "mass punishment of demonstrators." I think it's also retarded that the police sited "violations of private property" as a reson for interfering, knowing that this "private property" fisheries are illegal in the first place.
Anyway, back to the rule of law issue: there is none. It's a joke that the Ministry of Interior would speak about enforcing the "Public Gatherings Law" against angry powerless Malkiyans, whereas this "powerful man" is roaming around doing whatever he feels like.. There is law. We love talking about the law. There are also punishments for violating the law. "Being nicely asked" to stop is not the punishment your average Hamoud or 3abbood will get. Can someone try and justify why the law means nothing in this case?
Latest update: Our man announced today that he will abide by the law, if everyone else does.. whatever than means?