Middle East Uprising Affects the Local NYIT Campus in Bahrain

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In our continuing coverage of the events unfolding in Middle East, our biggest concern is about the safety of our fellow students and faculty members in the local NYIT campuses. Since our last front page article published on March 8, 2011, the situation turned out for the worst and many protesters in several countries lost their lives. Anybody that follows the media knows that our Air Force is involved in securing the “No Fly Zone” above Libya, to protect the citizens of that country from Colonel Kaddafi. Also, to a lesser degree, but again in the media we can read that peaceful protesters are being killed in several other Middle East countries such as Yemen, Jordan and Syria.  But Bahrain, where our sister NYIT campus is located, has mostly vanished from the news. At one point we learned that foreign troops, Saudi and Qatari, entered the small island nation, to help the King against the protestors, but since Libya took over the news, we hear less and less from Bahrain.

The events in Bahrain are directly affecting our fellow students. We received several communications from NYIT students in Bahrain about their daily lives under the Martial Law declared by their government, closing of all the schools, including NYIT of course, and expressing their concerns for their own and families.  In Mid-March, the King and his government declared a state of emergency after 10,000 demonstrators protested the foreign soldiers in their country.

The authorities tore down the famous Bahrain landmark, the Pearl monument in the middle of Pearl Square that had become a symbol of anti-government protests. The 300 ft high monument was designed to honor the early days of the six gulf states, including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, whose economy was based on pearls, before the discovery of oil.

The following letter from a NYIT student to the editor of Gulf Daily News published on March 17 expresses beautifully their immediate and future concerns of our fellow students in Bahrain.

 

Let’s fix the damage before it is too late! Posted on » Thursday, March 17, 2011

I am one of many Bahrainis worried about our people’s safety and our country’s future.

When I was in school, no-one ever asked me if I was Sunni or Shi’ite. I wasn’t even sure what these words meant until sixth grade or so, because truthfully, no-one cared.

The only thing that mattered was we were all Bahrainis – whether Sunni, Shi’ite, or any religion other than Islam.

Ever since the protests started, Bahrain was divided into two groups labeled “Sunni” and “Shi’ite”. We are all responsible for what is happening. What worries me the most is that no-one realizes that the ones most affected by these events are their own children! If these children are born and raised with their heart filled with hate for their fellow citizens, how will they ever learn to live together? How will they ever learn to work together?

If they are prejudiced at such a young age, how will they ever learn to grow out of it? If they see how their parents are, how much would that affect them mentally and emotionally? Not that it matters, but I am a Sunni and am proud to say that two of my best friends are Shi’ite.

My point is you can’t judge a person by his/her religion, but judge them for their hearts and minds. There is the good and bad everywhere and it doesn’t depend on something that is not even relevant!

People, I beg of you, don’t think about yourselves, but about your children’s future, your country’s economy and how it would be impossible for us to live together if this continues.

Yes, there is a lot of damage already, but we can always fix it before it’s too late.

Sunnis and Shi’ites may differ a little religion-wise, but aren’t we all the children of God? Don’t we all bleed the same color? Don’t we all feel the same emotions? Don’t we all love our country?

–A 19-year-old NYIT student

 

The Bahrain Campus Dean/Local President, Dr. DorothyMilligan Lewis, gave us a short description of the current situation in and around NYIT campus. Dr. Dottie, addressed as such according to local customs, described the state of emergency, the curfew and the closing of the all educational institutions by the government until further notice.

 

In here we can quote part of her below message:

 

On Mon, Mar 21, 2011 at 8:08 AM, Dorothy Lewiswrote:

 

Hi Ethan,

 

Last Tuesday, the King imposed a state of emergency for three months.  Basically a curfew was imposed for certain areas in Bahrain, around the Pearl Roundabout. The curfew began as 4 pm to 4 am and now has been eased to be from 8 pm to 4 am. On Wednesday, the Ministry of Education announced the closing of all educational institutions until further notice. And, on Saturday, they announced that all employees of educational institutions should return to work on Sunday March 20. Students, however, will stay at home until further notice, added the ministry’s statement. And, as you have probably seen the very large monument, a symbol for the anti-government demonstrators, at the Pearl Roundabout was taken down on Saturday. The government said it would help heal to get rid of the bad memories.

As you can see, things have been moving very rapidly here. Students are not on campus, so I am not able to put you in touch with any others at this point. Also, most of the faculty are guests in this country and it is not appropriate for them to provide their personal opinions on the political situation.

We are very much committed to continuing to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff on our campus.

The faculty has been very busy rearranging their course delivery methods. Many are being very creative by using social media sites,join-me.com, turnitin.com, blackboard, etc. Students have been informed about developing an emergency disaster recovery plan for courses, something I would recommend for all universities. We are committed to having the students finish their semester.

If you have specific questions, please let me know.

 

Best regards,

Dottie

According to Lon D. Kaufmann, Associate Professor of Design and Assistant Dean of the NYIT Bahrain campus, many students refused to express their opinion, understandably concerned for their own safety. By now, most of us who follow the media, know that most, but not all, the protestors are of the Muslim/Shia majority ruled by the Muslim/Sunni King and his government. The NYIT students are mixed and most of them do not want to get involved with the media. However, we learned that some of NYIT students actively participated in demonstrations.


 

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