The president of the Bahrain Journalists’ Association (BJA) has claimed that Arab media professionals advocating normalisation with Israel are being bullied and threatened online. Ahdeya Ahmed Al-Sayed made her claim during an online conference organised by the American Jewish Press Association (AJPA) in which she asked her Jewish colleagues for support.
“If you’d like to support us as we support peace, it would be a good thing,” said Al-Sayed. “The AJPA can do a lot. If we don’t do anything, then journalists will never try to even attempt to be outspoken about [normalisation].”
Al-Sayed is the first female to be elected to lead the 600-member BJA. She won a seat for Bahrain for the first time on the International Federation of Journalists’ Gender Council that aims to protect and defend the rights of female journalists around the world.
The BJA president plans to lead the first-ever delegation of journalists from Bahrain to Israel this year and claims to have come under attack for celebrating the Abraham Accords, the US-brokered agreements which have ushered in public rapprochement between Israel and several Arab states. “Yes, I went through being bullied, being harassed on social media, being called names. And I felt hurt.”
The rhetoric crossed the “limit of what you can say about a woman” in Bahrain, she explained. The unbearable distress was compounded because her three sons and husband had to read the hateful words.
Last year, the Trump administration engineered diplomatic pacts between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, the first Arab normalisation deals since Jordan recognised Israel in the 1990s and Egypt did in the 1970s.
Palestinians, as well as many countries, are critical of the so-called “peace agreements”. “I still smile when I think about it,” said Al-Sayed. “Actually, I think it was the best thing that happened in 2020.”