Wefaq, which has long held a plurality in Bahrain’s parliament, withdrew in March to protest the killing of demonstrators and the government’s refusal to meet its demands on democratic reform.
Mr. Salman denied that Bahrain, where thousands of Saudis flock daily to drink alcohol, would become more religiously restrictive if Wefaq gained power, saying “you cannot force the people to do anything.”
“This is not a problem for our thinking,” he said of Bahrainis’ freedom to drink. “We believe in Islam that the Muslim people must not drink. But if [someone] has not accepted this belief and he wants to drink, he will drink.”
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Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.
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