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Banker back from Bahrain shares insight
Island uprising is 'unfortunate'
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Forsyth County News


A local banker who recently returned from Bahrain said reports of bloodshed and unrest last week do not reflect the island country he knows.

Saquib Hyat-Khan and his family made their home in Forsyth County about a month ago, following a four-year stint in Bahrain.

Hyat-Khan said Bahrain life usually is typical of that on an island.

"The people are relaxed and they're very friendly," he said. "It's an extremely historical place ... it's actually the burial ground of a very old civilization that existed in the time of the Babylonian empire."

Bahrain is actually an archipelago of 33 islands east of Saudi Arabia, with the largest being Bahrain Island. It has a population of about 1.2 million people.

The nation houses the headquarters of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet and is considered a U.S. ally.

The country is ruled by an absolute monarchy. Last week, conflict between the government and its people resulted in death and destruction.

Hyat-Khan explained that while the royal family is Sunni Muslim, most of the country's population is Shiite.

"So what you are seeing now is basically brute force by the royal family, by the leadership, to break away this uprising that's occurring," he said, adding that the Shiites feel the island should be run by their leaders.

"[The rulers] are holding onto it because of support from Saudi Arabia and Qatar," he said. "It's really a very interesting story.

"People that I know are very surprised at seeing this Bahrain because they never thought in their wildest dreams it would be like this."

Hyat-Khan said he has received "horrendous" pictures of the conflict from a man he knows who still lives there.

"It's unfortunate because it's really an act of desperation on the part of the leadership," he said.

Hyat-Khan said the tension in Bahrain had been brewing for some time. He had observed Shiite sentiments against the government while he was living there.

He said he would love to go back someday.

"It's a great place," he said. "I sense that something is going to happen over the next few weeks.

"Maybe a change in government ... but whatever happens it's going to be good for the country. I think it's going to be for the better."