FP: Your father, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, is one of the most prominent Bahraini human rights activists. After 12 years in exile, he returned to Manama in 1999. Now he is in prison as a result of the government crackdown on pro-democracy protests. In July, Khawaja's longtime friend and collaborator, Nabeel Rajab, was arrested and detained for criticizing the country's leadership on Twitter, eventually being charged with organizing illegal protests and sentenced to three years' imprisonment. What is their situation?
MK: Over the past few years my father has been the subject of ongoing harassment, including physical attacks and smear campaigns in the media. He was tortured many times. Recently, while in jail, he decided to start a hunger strike. Rajab was recently sentenced to three years' imprisonment. Amnesty International has asked for the release of opposition activists and prisoners of conscience like them. But it hasn't happened.
FP: Your sister Zaynab, a.k.a. the blogger angryarabia, was also detained for participating in protests, and has taken considerable public risks in an effort to draw attention to the regime's brutality. As a result, she has faced periodic arrests over the last 18 months and multiple charges that could keep her in prison for years. How does it feel being the only one in the family who is still able to speak freely?
MK: I am free because I am not in Bahrain, but in Denmark. If I were in Bahrain, I would be in the same situation. My name is on a blacklist, not only in the Manama airport, but also in other Arab countries. The last time I arrived at the Cairo airport, the authorities told me that I was not allowed to enter the country. It's very hard for me, but what's happening to my family is happening to other thousands of families. Sometimes I feel that my family's situation is, in a way, better, compared with one of those families who've seen their kids shot and killed. My role is part of the process. It's a kind of price that we have to pay for demanding justice, freedom, and human rights.
FP: Aren't you afraid?
MK: Everyone is afraid. What we need is not the absence of fear, the fear will always be there because we know what the regime is able to do. We try to overcome the fear. We want to fight despite our fear. This is what is going on in the country.