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.
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, activist Jamila Hanan (@JamilaHanan) tweeted this picture of Nasser Bin Hamad with the Foreign minister of Bahrain:
Bahrainu Citizen commented:
— Free Hussain Hubail (@Bahrainycitizen) July 27, 2012
Kenneth Lipp noted:
I hear the Bahrain royal family is attendant at the Olympics. Any civilized nation would have them immediately arrested.
— Kenneth Lipp (@kennethlipp) July 27, 2012
Iraqi activist Khalid Ibrahim tweeted:
— Khalid Ibrahim (@khalidibrahim12) July 29, 2012
In return, Bahraini human rights activist Maryam Alkhawaja (daughter of imprisoned opposition figure Abdulhadi Alkhawaja) called for boycotting the Olympics:
— Maryam Alkhawaja (@MARYAMALKHAWAJA) July 28, 2012
The athletes don’t represent us
Only three of Bahrain Olympic athletes are born to Bahraini parents
— Ali (@Ali_Milanello) July 28, 2012
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:
— Ala'a Shehabi (@alaashehabi) July 27, 2012
With sarcasm, Bahraini blogger Amira Al-Hussaini wrote:
— Amira Al Hussaini (@JustAmira) July 29, 2012
She also added:
— Amira Al Hussaini (@JustAmira) July 28, 2012
Similarly, pro-regime Twitter user @ATEEKSTER wrote [ar]to criticize anti-regime protesters:
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:
what about the game of using live bullets to see if you die when I shoot you ;) @ATEEKSTER
— FreeNabeelRajab (@Taltool11) July 29, 2012
Written by Mona Kareem