Nazeeha Saeed’s worries about Europe’s shift to the right

Nazeeha Saeed, a journalist from Bahrain who lives in Paris and Berlin in exile since 2016, tells about her worries in face of Europe’s shift to the political right since her arrival.

Nazeeha Saeed © private photo

My view of Europe got worse since I came here – if I may say that. The right wing is rising crazily. I don’t know how many governments became right-wing since I moved to Europe. We are just getting shocked every election that the right wing is in the power. Like here in Germany it was a bit shocking, I mean we did see it coming, but we were hoping for it not to happen. But it happened and they are in the parliament. But I believe in change, and I hope this was a change not for long. I hope that we don’t have to pay for it with our life, our health and our safety. I left because I wanted to work for something. So I don’t want to have the struggle to live here as well. […] I don’t know what kind of decisions could come because they never cared about humanity. I’m sorry right-wing people but you do not care. That’s who you are. And neoliberals are even worse. So, I hope it doesn’t get that worse that I have to fight for my existence.

I think, on the other hand, activists and civil society could also enlarge their base with people who started to see the danger of the right wing, and the danger of racism and discrimination. We called them the ‘unpolitical’ middle. So, during the last years the base got larger because they saw the danger and said: Ok, I have kids now and I don’t want them in a certain point facing this. […]

On the other side the right wing also collected a lot.

So, it’s an interesting time. I hope we win.

Nazeeha Saeed worked as a journalist for international and local media in Bahrain for over 20 years. From 2011 she was exposed to state repression because of her journalistic work, especially on human rights issues. She was arrested and tortured for her critical reporting on the democracy protest movement, which erupted in Bahrain in the course of the “Arab Spring.” Nevertheless, she remained in the country until 2016 and was an activist for freedom of opinion and freedom of the press. In 2016 her journalistic license was revoked and a travel ban was imposed. She was sued for allegedly continuing to work as a journalist despite having her license revoked. As soon as the travel ban was lifted for a short time, Nazeeha Saeed left the country out of fear of further arrest. She first came to Paris to continue working with her previous clients. International organizations for free press work supported her in starting over in Europe and she succeeded in obtaining a right of residence even without asylum proceedings. She has been living in Berlin since fall 2019.

Nazeeha continues her journalistic work in Europe. She continues to write about the situation in Bahrain and the Gulf region, especially about human rights issues such as the situation of guest workers, women and LGBTIQ* persons. She also publishes articles on the situation in Europe, especially on exile life in Paris and Berlin. Nazeeha Saeed is committed to free journalism and gives empowerment and strategy workshops for journalists working in areas of political conflict. Because of her work she has become the face for violations of freedom of the press and freedom of opinion in Bahrain, which ranks 169th out of 180 in Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom index.

In this excerpt of the interview that Nazeeha gave to the We Refugees Archive in July 2020, she talks about her worries facing the political changes in Europe since her arrival: As right-wing parties rise in many European countries she is afraid that her safety may be in danger again. At the same time she hopes that democratic and progressive actors will also become stronger.

This interview with Nazeeha Saeed was conducted by We Refugees Archive, 15 July 2020.