Bahrain Shia pray at the site of a demolished mosque, 24 December 2011
The historic and continued discrimination against Shia citizens in Bahrain is regarded by many as institutionalised sectarianism, an opinion buttressed by the Al-Bandar report. Serious accusations have been leveled at the regime by NGOs, foreign governments, and the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, but little to nothing has been done by the regime to address political, institutional, and structural causes, enabling the views which guided such policy and practice to remain intact.
There is often a notable disconnect between the Bahrain regime's rhetoric and the reality of its actions. Indeed, it is the role of the public relations firms paid millions to market a fantasy version of the island Kingdom to cover up this disconnect. However, this latest attempt for a vision of Bahrain as a modern, reforming state is remarkable in its audacity, and --- given the events at home, rather the presentation abroad --- more than a little chilling in what it perhaps purports to achieve.