True citizens of Bahrain : discourse on Bahraini identity since the Arab Spring
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When Bahrain's uprising began in February 2011, the opposition presented united front. By the time of the national dialogue a year later, however, it had fractured both along and within sectarian lines. The government’s inconsistent response to the uprising also demonstrated tensions within Bahrain’s royal family. An analysis of discourse on the national dialogue, terrorism and violence, expatriates, and the Gulf Union plan revealed that Bahrain's political factions were divided by their conceptions of Bahraini identity and citizenship. Bahrain was a young nation and questions of identity were still very much under debate. This work drew on newspaper opinion pieces, official statements published by political groups, and posters and videos they posted on social media to explain the questions of identity that developed around these political debates. I also examined how these debates continued to divide Sunni and Shi’i groups within the opposition as well as the moderate and conservative factions within the royal family. Finally, I considered how these groups used their varying conceptions of Bahraini citizenship to justify their tactics in pursuing or attempting to quash the uprising. Even as each group demanded rights for citizens, they disagreed on what citizenship meant. Similarly, denying that their opponents were “true citizens,” allowed each group to delegitimize views they disagreed with.