Screen capture taken from the video showing the moment the policeman slaps a man holding his young son.
Video footage of police violence in Bahrain abounds online, so much so that it rarely stirs debate. However, a recent video has whipped up a storm of protests in the kingdom. Perhaps because this time it doesn’t show protesters being attacked – but rather a man being humiliated in front of his young son during a routine identity check.
The scene took place on December 23 in the village of Aali, in central Bahrain. From behind a window, a camera films what at first appears to be a rather ordinary scene: a policeman asks a man his name and what village he comes from. The man, who is holding his son in his arms, replies that his name is Haider and that he is from the village of Aali. The policeman then asks him to show his identity card or his license, but the man says he doesn’t have these papers on him. Furious, the policeman asks him to speak to him in a more respectful tone, and then insults him. He then proceeds to slap the man twice, barely missing the child, who begins to cry. The father tries to cover his son’s eyes.
This video caused outrage in Bahrain, where Internet users dubbed it "the slap video".
Following the scandal caused by this video, Bahrain’s Interior Ministry announced it had arrested the police officer and tried him in a military court.
According to local activists, this is not the first time that the policeman in question has acted in such a violent manner.
"I don't believe they really tried the policeman"
@newsaali is the administrator of the YouTube channel that published the video. He is also the victim’s cousin.
That day, Haider was on his way to visit his aunt, who lives very close by, which is why he didn’t have his papers on him.The neighbourhood where his aunt lives was full of policemen, because Bahrain was preparing to host the Gulf Cooperation Council summit [on December 24 and 25] and the government feared that protests might take place.What you don’t see in the video is that a policeman first stopped Haider’s car and asked him to step out of the car. Haider agrees, but refuses to leave his child alone in the car. The tension is palpable, which is why the eyewitness decided to film the scene from his window [the video begins before the father enters the frame, as if the cameraman was indeed waiting for something to happen].The Interior Ministry declared that it had arrested and tried the policeman in court. Personally, I don’t believe this. I think these declarations are simply meant to calm public opinion. Otherwise, why wouldn’t the authorities release photos, videos, or other proof of this arrest? And why would this alleged trial take place behind closed doors?