First Day of Muharram 2021: Interior Ministry Begins Campaign against Ashura Rituals

2021-08-13 - 1:34 am

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): A tweet, written by Bahraini activist Yousif Al-Khaja on his Twitter page, may sum up the reality of the activity of state agencies, led by the Bahraini Interior Ministry, restricting Shiite citizens in their commemoration of Ashura on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (PBUH).

"Out of respect for the days of Ashura and the commemoration of the usual rituals on this great occasion, we hope that the security authorities act wisely and not provoke the people in a way that does not serve civil peace by infringing on the manifestations of condolences and gatherings committed to following health precautions," Al-Khaja wrote.

Before the beginning of the month of Muharram, the National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus, categorized the obsequies (Ma'tams) based on an approach adopted by the Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs, which divided the obsequies into three categories: green, yellow and orange.

The level green means that 60% of the obsequy's capacity is allowed, leaving a distance of 2 meters between each person. The level yellow means 30% of the capacity is allowed for the vaccinated and recovered citizens only, with registering the names of attendees, noting that the broadcast should be electronic.

Meanwhile the level orange means the obsequy is allowed to be opened at specific times in coordination with the Jaafari Waqf Department, with attendance limited to the obsequy managers by no more than 30 people for the vaccinated and recovered only, with attendance data recorded, and the broadcast to be electronic.

In addition to other strict criteria for Ashura gatherings, and limiting them to the surrounding area of the obsequy only.

After adopting the strict criteria for the Ashura season, the Jaafari Waqf administration held a meeting for the heads of obsequies and Husseiniyas. The meeting was attended by many official bodies, including the ministries of municipalities, health, interior and justice. The meeting was a repetition and explanation of the conditions and measures.

After that meeting, the campaign of tightening the grip on Ashura rituals began on the ground and despite the commitment of the obsequies to these malicious requirements that are not applied to the rest of the permissible gatherings in Bahrain, the Ministry of Interior began to practice violations and cause provocations two days before the beginning of the Ashura season.

Activists and citizens recorded a series of violations, including heavy security patrols by the interior ministry in the center of Al-Sanabis Tuesday afternoon.

Security forces also confiscated a banner which read "Ya Hussein" that was hanged one day before the beginning of the Ashura season in Al-Musalla village.

Interior Ministry forces also forced the administration of Jablat Habashi obsequy to remove a banner which read "Yazid is a wicked man and wine drinker".

In the west of the country, citizens in Damistan re-installed banners and black flags after they were removed by the security apparatus, as part of steps and systematic sectarian persecution practiced by the authorities.

Police also removed Ashura signs in Hamad City, fourth roundabout, according to the Raid Monitoring Network.

"Since 2011, Ashura violations have been used for revenge and political intrigue on a seasonal basis by the authorities," commented Baqer Darwish, president of the Bahrain Forum for Human Rights.

Vice president of Salam for Democracy and Human Rights, Yousif Al-Muhafda wrote "Security forces accompanied by a municipal vehicle took down religious signs that read 'labayk ya Hussein' in the Musalla area, which is considered a restriction on the religious rites of Shiite citizens, and a constitutional right that is internationally guaranteed."

Showing the authorities' double standards, activist Youssef Al-Jamri posted photos showing the Minister of Health in the presence of her undersecretary Walid Al-Manaa, as they opened a psychiatric lounge with a crowd of ministry employees and officials. They all took a group photo and were close to each other, shoulder to shoulder. "The condition of distancing and 2 meters is only applied to obsequies and Husseiniyas," he commented.

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