Rula Saffar never wanted to be famous, and certainly never imagined she would become a global symbol for Bahrain’s protestors.
Events in 2011 changed all that. When massive pro-democracy protests erupted at the Pearl Roundabout, a major traffic interchange near Manama’s financial district, police responded with bullets and tear gas. Saffar was one of several medical professionals who rushed to the scene to help treat the injured. A heroic act, many would argue. That wasn’t the view of the Bahraini government. Saffar was arrested and charged with helping protestors. She also claims she was tortured in prison, where she spent five months.
Saffar is, in fact, one of the few Bahraini medics arrested who have been released from jail, despite receiving a 15-year sentence.
She is no longer allowed to practise as a nurse, but remains in Bahrain.