Far from King's Lament for France’s Notre-Dame Cathedral, What’s the Meaning of Forcible Confiscation of Shiite Obsequey Funds in Bahrain?

2019-05-21 - 8:38 p

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The King was still in Paris. In a bold red title, Al-Watan newspaper quoted the Bahraini king's words to the French president: "The Bahrainis' concern for the Notre-Dame Cathedral stems from their respect for places of worship."

This is regarding Bahrainis, but what about the state led by the king? Does it respect places of worship and people's faiths?

Is a state that maintains a continuous campaign for whitewashing its reputation through public relations firms, and that celebrates a Hindu temple for standing for many years in the capital Manama, yet does not accept deeming Shia obsequy congregation halls (Hussainiat or Ma'tams) as places of worship or of religious nature, considered to be credible?

Many questions are raised as the state is n stripping hundreds of Shiite Hussainiat of their money under the pretext of paying due electricity bills. However, what is most unfortunate is that the Jaafaria Endowments Administration (Waqf) after the Electricity and Water Authority is the spearhead in the confiscation process of these funds from peaceful religious institutions.

In Bahrain, there are more than a thousand Hussainiat. The Jaafaria Endowments Administration stated in its statistics in early 2009 that there are approximately 1,100 Hussainiat officially registered in Bahrain. Meanwhile others say that the total number, including unregistered ones, may reach up to 5,000. According to Abdullah Saif, in his book Ma'tams in Bahrain, there are more than three thousand and five hundred men-only Hussainiat. That was recorded in 1994, excluding women-only halls and Ma'tams.

All this heavy presence of the followers of the Shiite sect does not mean anything to the Bahraini king, as Shiites are oppressed in their own homeland.

A number of heads and representatives of the Manama Ma'tams met with the President of the Jaafaria Endowments Mohsen Al-Asfour, and issued an appeal to the King.

In a recent session, the House of Representatives raised a urgent bill to equalize the cost of electricity between Ma'tams and places of worship. The sponsors of the bill said that "more than 300 Ma'tams were given notices that power will be cut off in 3 days." The MPs pointed out that the bills were worth thousands of dinars.

In 2013, the Minister of Finance at the time, Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, in response to the objection of MP Khaled Abdel-Aal to the Ministry of Finance's non-payment of the Jaafaria and Sunni Endowments Administrations' arrears, fearing that the Electricity Authority would cut off power. "I just want to say that the country has not witnessed power cut off from places of worship, and it will not, as there is clear coordination between government agencies in this regard," he said.

In fact, the Authority did not cut off electricity but confiscated money from the Ma'tams, in a clear assault on funds of religious nature, without giving any regard to the country's Shia citizens.

A state that takes religious stances against its citizens is not a real state. When it comes to politics, the government of Bahrain considers Ma'tams to be places of worship and prevents them from being used in elections, yet when it comes to electricity bills, the Ministry of Justice does not regard them as places of worship and thus demands payment.

Arabic Version



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