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Question of the Day
‘FREEDOM IN BAHRAIN?’
The ambassador from Bahrain insists that her country respects religious freedom, although the gulf kingdom has been gripped by political violence with religious overtones for the past year.
“Women are fully empowered members of society. Although Bahrain is a Muslim country, religious minorities - including Christians, Jew, Hindus and Bahais - enjoy full freedom of worship.”
Fully 99 percent of the country’s population of 1.24 million is Muslim, with all those other religions Mrs. Nonoo mentioned making up the remaining 1 percent. Her own Jewish community has only about three dozen members.
Native-born Bahrainis are a minority in their own country, where 54 percent of the population are foreigners, according to State Department reports.
To complicate matters further, the Muslim residents are divided between the minority Sunni ruling sect and the majority Shiite population.
The government has no official breakdown between the two sects, but the uprising in the past year has pitted anti-government Shiites against the Sunni government, which had to call on troops from neighboring Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia to help crush Shiite protests in March.
In her talk to the visiting Presbyterians, Mrs. Nonoo said the Bahraini government is “committed to reform and to implementing progressive policies that will help achieve reconciliation.”
The latest attempts at political negotiations have stalled, as our correspondent Ben Birnbaum reported exclusively last week when he revealed secret talks between Bahrain’s top Shiite opposition bloc and the Sunni-dominated government.
“We have lost our lives, struggled against the king, and now there are people trying to tell the world of religious freedom in Bahrain?” wrote an activist named Walid, who said he has attended anti-government demonstrations throughout the nation.
“So are people going to believe her, as the police beat us and kill us because we demand our rights?”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...
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