Ban sparks alarm among foreigners By BASMA MOHAMMED Published: 28th May 2008

BAHRAIN's decision to no longer issue work permits to Bangladeshis has prompted a mixed response from the Bahraini and expat communities.

The GDN yesterday spoke to people in the Manama suq and an area of Salmaniya known as the "Bangladesh colony", where many illegal workers are known to live.

Some foreigners are now worried they could be next on Bahrain's blacklist and opponents accused the government of punishing law-abiding people because of the actions of a few.

However, others said tough action was needed to protect the wider community.

"I say kick them out, kick them out, kick them out!" said Bahraini taxi driver Sayed Nader.

"In Kuwait and Saudi Arabia they are banned, why not here?

"They are causing a lot of problems and crimes in the country. If you come during night to the Manama suq, next to the Bangladesh Club, you will see them drunk and involved in prostitution in the streets and their club.

"A taxi driver who is a friend of ours, Saleh Abdul Rasoul Saif, got stabbed with a knife by Bangladeshi men who took his money and ran.

"The man is still in the hospital because of this.

"Another friend of mine had a Bangladeshi driver who used to take the car and use it as a private taxi.

"He also tried to rape a female from the family, but when he was caught and taken to the police, they said they couldn't do a thing - so we beat him and got him a ticket home to his country."

Bahraini father-of-two Hussain Murtatha admitted the ban was unfair on those who had done nothing wrong.

However, he accused Bangladeshis of spreading social problems in Bahrain.

"I think this is good in the sense that those Bangladeshi people don't have much of a language or experience," he said.

"That has helped in causing problems for the kingdom and its people.

"I'm sure the decision is for the benefit of Bahrain in general.

"I had an incident with a Bangladeshi man in our neighbourhood who tried to peep through our neighbour's window.

"I, with some fellow neighbours, stopped him and beat him to teach him that this was wrong."

Mr Murtatha also said the ban should not only include Bangladeshis.

"Ethiopian females should be banned too because of the problems they are causing in the country, such as prostitution and drugs," he said.

Bahraini taxi driver Baheej Ali agreed that some Bangladeshis should be barred from coming to Bahrain.

However, he does not think all of them should be tarred with the same brush.

"The Bangladeshi people affect the economy of Bahrain," he said.

"We have a lot of Bangladeshi employees working as builders, mechanics and in jobs that help Bahrain's development.

"Contractors will be the most affected in this - Bangladeshi people are the cheapest in salary and visa papers.

"A lot of them are working in GCC countries because there is a huge difference in salary between what they get in their country and what they get here."

A Filipina, who asked to be identified only as Cynthia, said she was now worried that other nationalities - including hers - could face a similar fate.

"I am afraid of this decision," she said.

"It makes me feel that the government has decided too fast and I am afraid it might happen to other nationalities, like mine."

But bank employee Ronald Sarmiento, also from the Philippines, says countries have every right to allow whomever they choose across their borders.

"In Saudi Arabia, for example, they banned Thai people," he said.

"It's a law and the country made its decision based on an incident.

"This is the same, but surely the government knows that people are suffering from this."

Indian policeman Aftab Ahmed, who has been living and working in Bahrain for 20 years, was still on the fence yesterday.

"I think this is a good decision in a way to let people know there is law, but I think it is bad because the country Bangladesh is not to blame," said the father-of-two.

However, Indian accountant Siby Varghese was opposed to the move and urged the government to reconsider.

"This is one man's fault, they shouldn't ban the whole country," said Mr Varghese, who works at the Safa Company, Salmaniya.

"Instead they should punish the person who did this crime so justice is heard.

"We have three Bangladeshis working in our company and we never faced any problems with them.

"I think the Bahraini man who was killed had something to do with the attack - he might have irritated his killer."

Ebraham Baby, an Indian cashier at the same company, agreed.

"If one person made a mistake, it is not fair to ban the whole country for it," he said.

Meanwhile, Bangladeshi Mazharul Islam Babu now has to rethink his plans to bring his family to live with him in Bahrain.

"I like Bahrain," said the money exchange employee.

"I have lived here for two years now and was intending to stay here longer.

"I was planning to bring my family here after two or three months - this is a place I call home.

"This decision is a bad one. All people are not bad and this rule should be changed.

"The man who committed the crime should be punished - not all Bangladeshis."


© Gulf Daily News