Doctors turn on each other as sectarianism tears Bahrain apart

 

In another sign of the growing sectarianism in the crisis in Bahrain, friends of imprisoned Shia Muslim doctors in the country are circulating lists of Sunni Muslim medical staff whom they claim have been sent to spy on them and to give false evidence against them in courts.

The new list includes doctors, interns, senior accident and emergency officials, ophthalmologists, paediatricians and staff nurses.

The Bahraini government itself sectarianised Shia demands for representative democracy in the Gulf monarchy earlier this year when it stated that doctors at the Salmaniya Medical Complex deliberately discriminated against Sunni patients at the hospital during the February pro-democracy protests. The Shia doctors, who have strenuously denied these claims, are part of the majority in Bahrain; the minority Sunnis comprise the monarchy and occupy senior positions in almost all major state security institutions.

But the latest file, which was shown to me this week by a Bahraini doctor, gives an even more poisonous edge to what is fast becoming a Shia-Sunni struggle for power. Already Shia doctors have been beaten in police custody, faced trumped-up charges of arms crimes and of allowing patients to die needlessly in hospital. Most of us who were witness to the fact that these charges are lies – for we were in the Salmaniya hospital at the time – are now, unsurprisingly, banned from the kingdom.

Among the cases now being documented by Shia Muslims – and there is no way of knowing whether they are true or are as mendacious as the government's statements – include claims that one ophthalmologist betrayed a Shia colleague; a general surgeon who told Bahraini television that "only" seven patients had been in the Salmaniya hospital during the violence; and two dermatologists who announced that "heavy weapons" were hidden inside the health centre.

There is no way of confirming these extraordinary allegations made by Shia Muslims but it is the first example of an openly sectarian medical dispute since the Rwandan genocide.

Shia Muslims in Bahrain have often misused the word "genocide" to describe their own democratic struggle – as if the government is engaging in mass slaughter, which is not true – but the authorities, in whose custody at least four prisoners have died since February, all apparently after being tortured, make no pretence at being a democracy.

The Bahraini authorities are aware of the already circulating list of Sunni doctors, which will only further factionalise the medical community in the country. When a named staff nurse is accused of "providing information" about several staff nurse colleagues "who are still under detention", it is difficult to see how these personnel can ever work together again.

Two Sunni interns – again, named – are alleged to have led armed men into the sixth floor of the Salmaniya medical centre to arrest patients who were subsequently taken away and beaten. The interns were needed to read the patients' medical files since the security forces – many in the Bahraini military are in fact Pakistanis – could not read English.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
News
people
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star