The "fun" started last night - and as expected there was a face-off, between protesters and the police force in the village of Karzakan.
And as is the case, there are two versions of the story:
The Ministry of Interior surprisingly opened a Twitter account last night and tweeted:

Illegal rally in Karzakan 3 policemen attacked, Police had to fire 2 rubber buttons. 1st as warning shot 2nd bounced & hit a demonstrator
I know, it reads like a cartoon script, but that is the problem with 140-character messages, particularly those written by sci-fi writers.

The other side paints a story of horror and gore, the use of excessive police brutality, casualties, and loads of tear gas, rubber bullets and shot guns - all documented with photographs being mass circulated on BBM, the Internet and word of mouth.

Bint Battuta in Bahrain translates the demands from the protests, starting across the country today here. And while most of them are legitimate, and something each decent Bahraini aspires to, a copy-cat revolution, with a Facebook event, is not what a sectarian divided Bahrain needs today.

These marches if anything will continue to fan the flames of sectarianism, pitting one neighbour against the other, in a country where mistrust between the two sects is becoming the trademark of our existence. We all know that the protests will be quashed. The riot police will not smile to the protesters and let them do their bit and go to their homes. There will be a crackdown, and it will be excessive, hard and brutal - but then every protester taking the streets already knows that.

Over the past few days I watched with horror as Bahrainis plummeted to the dark side, with new name tags on every ungrateful soul not drooling at the government and the scraps it throws at us to play fetch with. Fetch because whatever goes into one pocket, goes out the other. And play because even if one gesture or the other is genuine, the big picture shows that there is some big flaw in a reform project we all welcomed with open arms but are now becoming disillusioned with.

As you can see, I am not a huge fan of the government. I am also not a fan of stirring unrest in Bahrain. And I am also totally against the way the security forces will clampdown on any dissent or opposition - the same opposition I am not a fan of because of my liberal leanings, which don't mix well with the turban bearded mantra. But having said all this, my sympathy is with my country men and women, with the poor and needy, with those working hard to make ends meet, with those striving to have a roof on their heads, with those studying hard and eager to join the job market - with the decent Bahrainis out there who want to live in a land of equal opportunities and feel proud that they are Bahrainis - Just Bahraini, Not Sunni or Shia. (By the way, Just Bahraini - a bloggers initiative to fight sectarianism is BLOCKED by the Government of Bahrain!!!!)

What I am with is a civil dialogue and what I want to see today is the real Bahrainis standing up and stopping any bloodshed, anger and correcting the wrongs of the past. I also want to see goodwill and trust - trust from both the government and the people. I want us to believe and I want to be able to dream of a better Bahrain for my children. I want us all to give each other the benefit of the doubt and develop a capacity to listen to each other without calling each other unpatriotic, traitor or an agent of the West or Iran.

As Bahrainis, we need to sit down with each other and address our long list of woes, and work together on solving them. Sandwiched between Saudi Arabia and Iran, it would be foolish to demand a full democracy, with real emancipation, freedoms and citizens rights. I understand and accept that as this is my country and this is my destiny. What I do not accept and will never accept is the cesspit of sectarian bigotry we are drowning in.

The government needs to stop its games, the mental ones particularly, because all decent Bahrainis, Sunnis and Shia, are aware. The hoarse crow's caw will continue to reverberate but we will need to step out of the noise, call out corruption and rise above all the mistrust and work towards a common goal: A Bahrain we will all be proud to live in and work together for its progress and prosperity.

My own family and network of friends include people from the full spectrum of Bahrainis - Sunnis and Shias, those who spend more time in the Matams and mosques than with their families and those who cannot go a day without breaking one religious ruling or another - and we all live in peace, accepting each other and civil in the way we treat one another.

Having said all this: I will not march in the streets. I will stay put, surrounded by my cats and loved ones, hoping for peace in my restive country.

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Is the revolution contagious? And could what started as a one-man act in Sidi Bouzid, in Tunisia, be reverberating across the Arab world, where many of today's young men and women grew up with the same ageing heads of state ruling them, and every other aspect of their lives?

My Twitterfeed is abuzz with hashtags, calling for revolutions across the region, from Algeria to my very own Bahrain. There is even a calendar of events being circulated, which I didn't get - making me feel like Cinderella, whose ugly step sisters were invited to the party while I was shunned.

The fast-paced events taking the Arab world by storm since December 17 have left many of us in awe, riding on the revolution tide. From my vantage point, I am seeing an influx of reactions even from the most downtrodden people, making me worry about their safety and security, knowing too well that even expressing your feelings could very well carry a price tag in certain countries in our region.

I have spent the previous painful hour talking to a hardcore journalist from New York - at least that is what he described himself as. I explained to him the work we do at Global Voices Online and how we aggregate material written by the people, for the people. He said he knew all that and wasn't interested. He wanted hard news. He wanted facts. I told him we are publishing what we have and finding the facts was his job. He asked me what was next. I told him that is for the clairvoyant to tell us. He explained to me over and over again how he was a professional journalist, implying that I was a novice, who has started to learn how to type yesterday. What is Bahrain? he asked. And then added: "Bahrain is Bahrain, I suppose!" He asked if I have a television set? He said that he would stream Al Jazeera now and watch the developments online. I shook my head in horror and didn't tell him that Al Jazeera was a stone's throw away, and that if I look out of my window, and gaze into the horizon I will be able to see its shed-like building (that is how I saw it last! No offence, but please tell me you have grand offices now, with the splendour we are used to here in the Gulf!) in the glare of the distant desert.

I know that I have started my career as a journalist and have worked in the field for a good 15 years. But some of the specimens out there leave a lot to desire in what was once a profession I cherished and romanticised. I wrote that in the past tense, because my more recent work in citizen media over the past five years puts some of those larger-than-thou characters to shame. This journalist I was speaking to, responded to every word I uttered with "I know!!" If you know everything, and I am not offering you anything new or newsworthy, why are you wasting my time and yours at 5am in the morning your time?

In all my years as a journalist, I had thought that my role was to listen with compassion and understanding, and ask the relevant questions, at the right time. There were times I had to be aggressive and many others where the conversation would naturally flow until I got the story I desired. But that is how we do our business here, in the Gulf, where respect still has a place in people's code of ethics and it's difficult to find a lot of people talking down to people in a condescending manner.

The hard-hitting questions I was asked are: What is happening now in Egypt? What will happen next? Who will be the next president? What do you know about Mohammed ElBaradei? Where will Mubarak go to? And how many people were killed and injured in #Jan25? He was also the one who told me that the Arab League was circulating a calendar of events noting where the next revolutions will start across the Arab world. The Arab League? Yeah, right. Please splatter that across all the headlines of all the major newspapers across the US and A, so that they know how much the Arab League is in touch with the grievances of its own people, and how blessed we all are to have such a spineless organisation!

Seriously? The Arab League?

The truth is that all those questions are legitimate but I am not the person to answer them. I consume the news just like the rest of us, with the only bonus point being, is that I am able to string citizen media reactions and post articles on an international platform, that only deals with citizen media reactions!

Burnt out, I will now go and play with my cats. At least, since they have no access to the Internet, I can rest assured that there will never be a mutiny in my household and none of them would ever aspire to have my life!
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For the previous two weeks, I have been refreshing the French Embassy's visa appointment page constantly - with no luck!

My plans for a vacation in Paris are being cut short because the French Embassy refuses to speak to people in person, has no one answering the phone regarding visa inquiries and has a website which refuses to make appointments.

I have tried the website during different hours of the day and night; I have asked my husband to go to the Embassy and speak to them and they turned him back saying he had to make an appointment , and we have called the Embassy over and over again, with no luck.

To get a visa to France, you need to book an appointment online. To book an appointment online, you need to access the website. And when you access the website, you are not able to book an appointment online. I wonder if anyone at the French Embassy has ever tried their website to see how infuriating booking an appointment is.

I have tried accessing it on Safari, on Firefox and on Chrome. Do I now have to install Internet Explorer to access it?

Here are their instructions:

To use this procedure, it is recommended that you have the following configuration :

- Internet Explorer 6 (Windows) and higher versions with Service Pack 2
or Firefox 1 and higher versions
or Mozilla 1.7.8 and higher versions
- you should also have Adobe Acrobat Reader 5 or higher to print your appointment receipt.
If not, you can download the software on the Adobe Acrobat Reader website

- you need to enable your computer to open pop-ups by changing your browser settings.

I was under the impression that I was able to follow instructions, since that it how we as Bahrainis are programmed, but apparently the French have managed to teach me a new lesson this month.

What annoys me more than those roadblocks which we face when we Bahrainis attempt to apply for Schengen visas is knowing the ease with with any European just has to flash his passport at our borders for the gates of heaven to open for them.

Last year, during the Icelandic volcano, I was stuck in Berlin. I had a four-day visa, and when it expired, I had to go to the police at the airport every single day to get a paper in my passport stamped - because my visa had run out!

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Gaddafi addressed the Tunisians. Here's a transcript of his erm... speech and this is, of course, my favourite part:

حتى أنتم إخواني التوانسة ، ربما أنكم تقرؤون في الكلينكس هذا ، والكلام الفارغ في الإنترنت . وهذا الإنترنت ، الذي أي واحد أهبل ؛ يسكر ويحط فيه أي كلام ، هل تصدقه !. الإنترنت هذا مثل الكناسة التي ترمي فيها أي حاجة ، فأي واحد تافه ؛ أي واحد كذاب ؛ أي واحد سكران ؛ أي واحد مخمور ؛ واحد شارب الأفيون ؛ يقدر يقول أي كلام في الإنترنت ، وأنتم تقرؤونه وتصدقونه .. هذا كلام بدون فلوس.. هل نصبح نحن ضحية لـ «فيسبوك» وضحية «الكلينكس « وضحية «يوتيوب»!، نصبح ضحية الأدوات التي صنعوها هم لكي يضحكوا بأمزجتنا !.. نحن نقرر مصيرنا ، حسب الحقائق وحسب حاجتنا.. ثم إن هذا ليس عصر الدم ؛ وعصر الدخان ؛ وعصر الحرق ، وعصر السكاكين ؛ و»الشيتات» ؛والفؤوس .. هذا عصر الجماهير ، المفروض عصر الديمقراطية ؛ كل شيء يا بـ «الإنتخاب ، يا «الاستفتاء» ، يا بالسلطة الشعبية المباشرة ؛ الديمقراطية الشعبية المباشرة .. وليس بـ «الإشاعات» ؛ وبـ «الفيسبوك» ؛ وبـ «اليوتيوب» ؛ وبـ «الكلينكس» ؛ و»ويكيليكس وبرقيات السفراء الأمريكان ، وشبكة المعلومات الدولية الإنترنت هذه هي التي الآن تضحك علينا ، ونهّتكوا في ديارنا ؛ ونمزق ملابسنا ؛ ونقتل أولادنا ، من أجلها .
It's always a pleasure reading/listening to Gaddafi speak because you never know what gems will come flying out of that mouth. This is the part which left me in stitches:

His Smartiness not only calls Wikileaks Kleenex but says that what's written on the Internet is "empty talk"!!

He says:

This Internet, which any demented person, any drunk can get drunk and write in, do you believe it? The Internet is like a vacuum cleaner, it can suck anything. Any useless person; any liar; any drunkard; anyone under the influence; anyone high on drugs; can talk on the Internet, and you read what he writes and you believe it. This is talk which is for free. Shall we become the victims of "Facebook" and "Kleenex" and "YouTube"! Shall we become victims to tools they created so that they can laugh at our moods? We decide our destiny, based on facts and our needs. Besides, this is not the era of blood, of smoke, of burning, of knives and axes; this is the era of the people, and supposedly the era of democracy. Everything is by election and referendum, ie, through the people's direct authority, which is the people's direct democracy, and not through rumours, and Facebook, and YouTube, and the Kleenex and the cables of American Ambassadors. This world wide web Internet is laughing at us and damaging our countries; it is tearing up our clothes; and killing our children for it.
The thing is, I am yet to find a demented person, under the influence, high on alcohol and drugs, who is able to utter such nonsense!
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