Thursday, 3 March 2011

Could Google Earth cause a revolution in Bahrain?

Seems a bit far-fetched doesn't it? Yet an opinion piece in the New York Times suggests exactly this.

Essentially, people crammed into tiny apartments have looked at their country on Google Earth, and seen just how much land is owned and used just by a tiny minority of super wealthy. - Google Earth as a visible manifestation of a social injustice. And they're not happy.

Here's what the article has to say:

While Facebook has gotten all the face time in Egypt, Tunisia and Bahrain, don’t forget Google Earth, which began roiling Bahraini politics in 2006. A big issue in Bahrain, particularly among Shiite men who want to get married and build homes, is the unequal distribution of land.

On Nov. 27, 2006, on the eve of parliamentary elections in Bahrain, The Washington Post ran this report from there: “Mahmood, who lives in a house with his parents, four siblings and their children, said he became even more frustrated when he looked up Bahrain on Google Earth and saw vast tracts of empty land, while tens of thousands of mainly poor Shiites were squashed together in small, dense areas. ‘We are 17 people crowded in one small house, like many people in the southern district,’ he said. ‘And you see on Google how many palaces there are and how the al-Khalifas [the Sunni ruling family] have the rest of the country to themselves.’

Bahraini activists have encouraged people to take a look at the country on Google Earth, and they have set up a special user group whose members have access to more than 40 images of royal palaces.”

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