British Political Resident's Speech in 1923 Tells Al Khalifa ĎThose who Donít Work Donít Eatí

Shaikh Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa, Ruler of Bahrain (1869-1923)
Shaikh Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa, Ruler of Bahrain (1869-1923)

2019-03-01 - 10:03 p

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): In 1923, the British ended the cruel rule of Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa, deposed by a historic speech, after he had sat on the throne for 54 years, during which he and his ruling family wreaked corruption and oppression on the people and the country.

The gathering of dismissal took place on May 26, 1923. It included the tribes, Shia Baharna, and the Al Khalifa family. British warships remained on the coast of Bahrain in preparation for any required intervention.

This speech was made by British Political Resident Stuart George Knox. Most of his speech was in English, with the exception of a part that was in Arabic.

During the speech, Knox said: "Recent events, which I do not want to talk about now, confirm and emphasize the urgent call for administrative reform in a modern way. Hence, there is nothing surprising in the fact that a man who has turned 75 years old is not able to respond to this demand. Over the course of a few years, the lenient and tolerant rule of Shaikh Isa- some may call it ‘bad governance' and I personally call it the ‘no-governance' - has led to an increase in tyranny and independence, which has been rapidly reflected in vested interests and serious weakening of governance".

In his book ‘Who is a Bahraini?', Bahraini critic Dr. Ali Al-Dairy puts this speech in its sociological context: "The power of this speech lies in its ability to depose not only the ruler, but also the system of governance that Isa bin Ali represented, with all what the form of the tribal state stands for, as Stuart George Knox who delivered the speech named this form ‘no-governance'."

"In the presence of the tribes, Knox blatantly told Isa bin Ali that his rule was a no-rule, meaning that he did not govern this country, and that it was without a rule, without rational reason, so change was a must," he explained.

In the same event, the Political Resident leaps directly at the Al Khalifa family and addresses them quite frankly. "When looking back, O Al Khalifa sirs, I fear that it is my duty to warn you that your mere presence in life does not mean that you have the right to live at the expense of society, whether through allocations taken from the proceeds of these islands or through the exploitation of the poor and the needy. Like the proverb says: ‘He who does not work, does not eat'. It is a good slogan, and you better apply it to your situation," he said.

"Those who sit without work should be satisfied with a small salary just enough to live, and those who commit follies will be completely deprived of money and punished accordingly."

"This speech is unprecedented. For the first time, someone says to Al Khalifa that they have to work, and whoever does not work should not eat. Knox told Al Khalifa that the horrific exploitation they had practiced through the system of forced labor, the grabbing of lands and theft of people's money, and imposition of unjust taxation, were no longer allowed. He told them this time is over, and they have to work to gain," noted Al-Dairy commenting on the speech.

This speech was a "dismissal of the historical stage of feudalism, while establishing a new order. This speech of dismissal was the basis of the first form of the modern state, within a centralized system of governance and one authority, rather than the multiple powers represented by feudal shaikhs," he added.

The British Resident's enthusiasm, even though it led at that time to a decisive historic turning point, it did not stop the greed of Al Khalifa and the form of "no-governance" that they had been plaguing this country with for 230 years to date.

The Al Khalifa family still believe that it is their right to "live at the expense of society ... through allocations" that are cut from oil revenues, and through "exploiting the poor and the needy", by naturalizing foreigners, borrowing in the name of the state, imposing taxes, monopolizing the market and controlling it for their interests only.

They did not work to gain, but worked to oppress, persecute and steal. They gain without effort and hardwork. They earn from selling lands to foreigners, or sharing them in the form of investments, whose benefits only bounce back to them. They earn from selling oil, selling debt or selling politics. They are also willing to gain more even if it cost them selling the country.

It is not the Bahraini unemployed who are dependent on the state and the regime. The British Political Resident, since 1923, had recognized that the ruling family is the one living off this nation, plundering its resources, depriving its people of their livelihoods and turning them into strangers in their homeland.

Knox's speech is enough to respond to outspoken naturalized citizens. It completely identifies the errors in this corrupt economic system in the country run by Al Khalifa since before the advent of oil. The people of this country (to which Yousef Mashal came as a refugee) should not accept receiving small salaries- the unfortunate Bahrainis who have been rendered unemployed. Those who deserve to; however, are "the perpetrators of follies...who sit without work" as Knox describes them, the Al Khalifa family and those whom they bring into the island kingdom.

After about 100 years, nothing is surprising anymore, O Knox, in the fact that the man who is going to turn 70 years old is not able to respond to the demands of reform, neither he nor his uncle who is going t o turn 85. Their successor will also not be a reformer even if he becomes one hundred years old. They will all remain a state acting as a tribe, as the late Fuad Khouri says.

They only thing that has not yet reached them is punishment, and change as well!


Arabic Version



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