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Bahrain: ‘Boycott the Olympics’

This post is part of our special coverage London 2012 Olympics and Bahrain Protests 2011/12.

The son of the King of Bahrain, Prince Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa is the front man of Bahrain's sports; not democratically chosen but appointed like the rest of his family, who are in power.

The young man gained fame after the February 14 uprising last year, when he allegedly personally tortured many Bahraini athletes, who joined the ranks of protesters at massive demonstrations, demanding political change in the country.

Nasser used Twitter during the uprising, tweeting under his real name, threatening to extract revenge from those who are anti-regime. When campaigns started to call for his elimination from the London Olympics, he deleted his tweets.

66,254 followers and zero tweets. All tweets deleted last month when the prince was afraid to be banned from London for torture allegations.

Last November, ESPN created a big fuss by revisiting the issue of Bahrain's detained and tortured athletes. In the video, the athletes speak of losing their spots in their teams, being detained, severely humiliated as traitors, having their Shia beliefs insulted, and personally tortured by the Prince.

Arrest the torturer

At the opening ceremony of the Olympics, an activist [note: identity anonymous for safety reasons] tweeted this picture of Nasser Bin Hamad with the Foreign minister of Bahrain:

Anonymous: The guy front right with the red tie. VIP at the #Olympics. He's a torturer. Of athletes. Prince Nasser of #Bahrain.

Anonymous: The guy front right with the red tie. VIP at the #Olympics. He's a torturer. Of athletes. Prince Nasser of #Bahrain.

Bahrainu Citizen commented:

@Bahrainycitizen: Nasser Bin Hamad was personally involved in torture of detainees and today is allowed to attend the opening ceremony #Olympics

Tweep Kenneth Lipp noted:

@kennethlipp: I hear the Bahrain royal family is attendant at the Olympics. Any civilized nation would have them immediately arrested.

Iraqi activist Khalid Ibrahim tweeted:

@khalidibrahim12: No doubt to invite a torturer fr #Bahrain by the gov of #Uk is against all the ethics and principles on which the #Olympics has been set up.

In return, Bahraini human rights activist Maryam Alkhawaja (daughter of imprisoned opposition figure Abdulhadi Alkhawaja) called for boycotting the Olympics:

@MARYAMALKHAWAJA: RT if u agree: I'm boycotting #olympics2012 bcz despite being given evidence, #UK n #Olympics allowed alleged torturer of #Bahrain to attend

The athletes don't represent us

Only three of Bahrain Olympic athletes are born to Bahraini parents. Image by @Ali_Milanello on Twitter.

Only three of Bahrain Olympic athletes are born to Bahraini parents. Image by @Ali_Milanello on Twitter.

Another reason for calls to boycott the Olympics are the number of naturalized athletes in the squad. During the opening ceremony, many Bahrainis tweeted those athletes have been naturalized and have no relationship to Bahrain whatsoever except holding the nationality to represent the country in games and get paid for it.

This issue is controversial in Bahrain considering how those athletes come to replace “unwanted” Bahraini athletes and because of ‘political naturalization’ that has been long practiced by the government to expand its base of supporters and to employ them in security forces.

In a comment, Bahraini Ala'a Al Shehabi tweeted:

@alaashehabi: No joy as we watch the #Bahrain #Olympics team with one token Bahraini (rest naturalized)-our heart sinks for over 20 imprisoned athletes

With sarcasm, Bahraini blogger Amira Al-Hussaini wrote:

@JustAmira: Almost all our #Bahrain #Olympics team was born in Ethiopia and Kenya. Didn't realise we had such a large Bahraini community there!

She also added:

@JustAmira: Would be great for #Bahrain if there was a competition in #teargassing at the #Olympics

Similarly, pro-regime Twitter user @ATEEKSTER [ar] wrote to criticize anti-regime protesters:

حسافة والله الأولمبياد ماعندهم لعبة “رمي المولوتوف” جان عن خاطرنا ضمنا الميداليه الذهبيه
@ATEEKSTER: Too the bad Olympics doesn't have a sport for “Molotov throwing”, we could have won the golden medal in that.

Tala responded to him saying:

@Taltool11: what about the game of using live bullets to see if you die when I shoot you

This post is part of our special coverage London 2012 Olympics and Bahrain Protests 2011/12.

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