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2011. Front Line Defenders
Adam Shapiro in Bahrain - "She can’t recall how many times she has breathed in the tear gas of the riot police or hid in a home"
It is Friday night in Bahrain. The interior of the franchise coffee house is the same as it is anywhere in the world, with necessary local flourishes added for flavor. In addition to standard fare cappuccinos and cakes, are added Shish Taouk wraps and other such efforts at appealing to a local palette. But that is where any similarity ends between this coffee house and its sisters in New York, London or Dubai.
At tables scattered throughout the cafe, there are hushed conversations over coffee whilst smartphones and laptops are being held and everyone tries to keep an eye on what is going on outside. Across the street, two riot police SUV are parked in an empty lot off a roundabout adjacent to a Bahraini village with their headlights fixed on the first row of homes. One policeman in full riot gear stands outside the vehicle and stares ahead, monitoring the flow of cars into the village.
Back inside the café, Zainab Al-Khawaja conducts her work as a human rights defender and opposition activist on the front lines.