Freedom does not come free

Freedom does not come free

An Al Jazeera English journalist expresses his reaction to covering protests in Bahrain and analyses the subjectivity of his role.
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All people deserve liberty but none should be martyred. Yet that is the only way to make change. Autocrats will not step down until enough of their own people perish.

Governments do not fall until blood is shed. There is no magic number for how many litres, how many shattered skulls, or how many fractured spines.

But regimes do not go gently into that good night. They rage, rage against the dying of their might.

I come from a place that already had its revolution, and my brothers are not dying to de-throne a dictator.

Though freedom did not come free, I was born in a republic where martyrs were made long ago.

Yet I am an Arab today because Arab liberation is the triumph of humanity. I feel like an Arab though I am not one.

This Arab revolution marks the beginning of a new era and the birth of a better tomorrow.

But it is also hell. In the midst of social upheaval is depravity. Some will kill and others will be killed.

This is not human logic, but it is cold political reasoning. This is not civilised, but it is the truth.

The culture of self-sacrifice is an obsession with trauma and destruction. It is masochistic yet full of celebration.

While covering Bahrain's protests, I saw men weeping and women wailing to honour a life lost, glorifying their struggle and redeeming their collective pain.

I kept hearing hayhat minna thilla from the funeral procession with tens of thousands marching. We will never surrender.

I had sorrow for the Shias and for the Sunnis. For the believers and the secularists. For the downtrodden and the uplifted.

For the brain-dead patient in the ICU. For the three bodies in the morgue. For the sons of Bahrain who are dead and gone. Twenty-somethings like me who are no more.

For Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, and the list goes on.

For Yemen, Algeria, Morocco, and Iran.

For each of the 1,000 who died, there are over 100,000 who cried. That means 100 million in mourning with whom I identified.

Though it's on fire, the Middle East is inspired. The future is now, and the people rise up.

Revolution may be necessary, but no country should have to suffer this way.

Tahrir Square to the Pearl, Bouazizi to Abu Takki, death is a down payment on democracy.

The internet is quicker than the bayonet, and an Egyptian baby is named Facebook. Will the next Bahraini be Twitter Ali?

My empathy shed light on the slice of revolution that I witnessed. But I felt guilty being a voyeuristic reporter documenting the revolution, then saying goodbye.

My heart mourns for Bahrain because of the suffering quota which all her people must satisfy.

And from Sanabis to Salmaniya to Sitra, a powerful chant rings out: Thawra, thawra, hatta al-nasr. Revolution, revolution, until victory.

All rights reserved, Doha Centre for Media Freedom 2013

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