Western Critics Mock Bahraini King's Claims to "Fighting Sectarianism": A Head of State that has Demolished Shia Religious Centers

2015-04-17 - 5:35 م

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The king of Bahrain, Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa, presents himself as a defender of national unity in the gulf kingdom; four years after the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry issued a report, which accused the regime of targeting and discriminating against the Shia, whether in the workplace, streets or inside prison.

The king could not escape the report which recommended the initiation of a comprehensive "national reconciliation" program. Many officials from around the world are still calling for this "reconciliation". The government couldn't respond to this recommendation, not even in an elusive way. One the other hand, nothing managed to put an end to the government's political plot against the Bahraini Shia!

During the government's meeting on Monday (April 6, 2015), the king said that "Bahrain respects all religions and sects (...) and its society is an example to look up to in regards to freedom of practicing religious rituals and tolerating others, so whoever tries to incite sectarianism will not succeed."

Besides attacking their beliefs, Shia citizens throughout the history of Bahrain are not allowed to work in military institutions. Security forces can even suspect anyone with a name that implies he is a Shiite, and harass them in the streets. They are considered second class citizens in regards to the services and benefits the government offers: No security, jobs, nor religious freedom. Shia students are even harassed when studying in universities abroad!

Human Rights First director, Brian Dooley, commented on the king's statements in an interview with Bahrain Mirror, saying: "You are against sectarianism is a great thing but proving it is what matters."

"The test is whether Bahrain's politics are inclusive, whether for example the security forces reflect the communities they serve. When you look at the make-up of the government, the police and military you have to say it's a test Bahrain is failing badly," he added.

In 2006, one of Bahrain's Royal Court consultants, a British national of Sudanese origin called Salah Al-Bandar, unveiled a comprehensive plan, set by the Royal Court, aimed at crushing the Shia by naturalizing Sunni foreigners, forbidding them from being hired or joining educational missions, and cornering their businesses as well.

Yousif Al-Muhafda, deputy head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (who sought asylum in Germany) pointed out that "the Royal Court is directly implicated in Al-Bandar's report, besides that the designations the king himself makes demonstrate the flagrant discrimination against the Shia sect," indicating the designations to high positions in government institutions, including ministers, undersecretaries, administrators, judges, members of the general prosecution and others.

"The Shia don't even represent 1% of the military and the king is the supreme commander of that military institution...legally, he is responsible for demolishing Shia mosques and exhuming their graves. We cannot believe that those who practice these Takfiri (extremist) actions are countering sectarianism," Al-Muhafda added.

Regime forces have also detained not less than 13 Shia religious scholars, some of which have been sentenced to over 90 years in prison, as is the case of Sheikh Mohammed Habib Al-Miqdad, who's been falsely accused of attempting to overthrow the regime.

The fourth anniversary commemorating the destruction of 38 Shia mosques by the Bahraini military has just passed. The authorities have not apologized for this action and in a serious attempt to elude this sectarian act, they used the expression "places of worship" instead of "mosques" in their statements.

In addition, Bahraini authorities have endorsed extremist campaigns fueled by resentment and hatred that radical Sunni clergymen launched against the Shia sect and beliefs, even on the official state TV channel; and then the king in 2015 goes ahead and says "We all worship the One and Only God and there is no difference between any of us, whether in the beliefs we adopt or the sect we belong to!"

The British author specialized in Bahraini affairs and PhD student, Marc Owen Jones, expressed his shock by the king's statements, as he said: "It is hard to see how the King's actions of the past four years contribute to a fight towards sectarianism."

"Being the head of a state that has demolished Shia religious structures, sat back as local media outlets have encouraged sectarian rhetoric, and invoked rumours of an Iranian hand behind the dissent, it seems Hamad is the figurehead of a government intent on stirring up sectarianism," he added.

Since (March 2011) Bahraini state media outlets funded by the government has been launching a sweeping assault against the Shia citizens who are being described as "traitors". Today, they are considered strangers and are being treated as if they are just "Iranian subjects".

These literary-like expressions spoken by the king do not change the fact that the world sees Bahrain as a country that commits "serious violations of freedom of religion," as the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, states.

Two days prior to the king's statements, Bielefeldt said that "many Shia activists are being arrested and some of them are leaving the country due to these violations," and voiced "his concern about discrimination against Shia citizens in particular".

Bielefeldt also said that he wants the Bahraini government to invite him to visit the kingdom: "I have an idea about the seriousness of this issue, but in order to collect more details, I hope to visit Bahrain."

All international newspapers and media outlets, which spoke extensively during these past weeks about the "Riyadh war" and "sectarian gulf" regimes, set Bahrain as a loud example. That is probably because they want to irritate the king in these times in particular!

Arabic Issue:

التعليقات المنشورة لا تعبر بالضرورة عن رأي الموقع

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