Georgetown grad deported from Bahrain for writing against the monarchy

Bahraini authorities deported Georgetown alumna Erin Kilbride (COL ’12) from the island nation on Saturday for what they described as “radical” writings against Bahrain’s ruling family and government.

Kilbride, an Arabic and women’s and gender studies major originally from Portland, Maine, was working in Bahrain as a teacher and recently posted an article to Muftah.org. Muftah.org describes its mission “to provide incisive analysis on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) that eschewed Western obsessions with terrorism, oil, and Islamism and, instead, highlighted issues and concerns that mattered to the region’s people.”

In her article, Kilbride wrote that “the modus operandi in Bahrain has been less about affirming the ‘aspirations of the people’ than about silencing popular demands via imprisonment of activists and strict bans on rallies calling for political reforms and equal rights.” Kilbride’s article also called out King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa for his “mindboggling” support of the recent coup in Egypt.

Bahrain’s government subsequently referred to Kilbride’s actions on Twitter as anti-government. “[Kilbride] was using Twitter and a number of websites to publish articles on Bahrain that were deemed to incite hatred against the government and members of the royal family,” the ministry said, according to the Huffington Post.

The ministry considered Kilbride’s writings online to be the work of an “unaccredited journalist,” putting her in violation of her visa.

Outrageously, Bahrain’s Minister for State Communications Fawaz Al Khalifa reported that Kilbride’s landlord found a banner for Lebanese militant terrorist organization Hezbollah on the wall in her apartment. He even tweeted a photo of the supposedly unstaged flag.

Kilbride’s deportation is part of Bahrain’s recent crackdown on dissent and unrest. As part of the Arab Spring, the majority Shiite population began more outspoken opposition to the Sunni-led monarchy. Unfortunately, the result has been violence on the streets, which is only further complicated by the U.S. Fifth Fleet’s current position in Bahrain’s harbors.

Given Kilbride’s deportation and the cancellation of this year’s fall study abroad in Egypt, the Middle East is sadly becoming a difficult travel destination for Hoyas, and that’s putting it lightly.

Photo: Al Jazeera English via Flickr

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