2022 Portfolios: The Pope Spoils the King's Endeavors, Says Bahrain Needs to Stop Any Form of Discrimination

2023-12-07 - 2:52 p

Bahrain Mirror (2022 Portfolios): In November 2022, Bahrain hosted a forum for humanitarian dialogue featuring Pope Francis from the Vatican and Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar. However, King Hamad bin Isa did not achieve what he had hoped for through this forum.

The King extended an invitation to the forum with the aim of improving his image as a patron of interfaith dialogue. The objective was to use the Pope's visit to whitewash the king's record of sectarian persecution against the Shia majority, hoping that the visit would obscure his dark history in the realm of religious freedoms.

Religious and political authorities urged forum participants, including Pope Francis, to take a clear stance against the persecution faced by the Bahraini people at the hands of the ruling authority.

Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim addressed on Twitter the Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence, urging participants not to believe "claims of tolerance, true peace, or any such calls from a government that oppresses its people and practices discrimination against them. This reality is not hidden from the forum guests."

Imprisoned opposition leaders called on Pope Francis to speak truthfully about the human rights violations suffered by the Bahraini people, as documented in international reports.

The opposition's Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society wrote to the Pope, on the eve of his visit, emphasizing that the reality is not as the authorities portray, pointing out that the government attempts to exploit his visit to mask the true extent of discrimination.

According to a statement from Human Rights Watch, opposition figures and human rights activists urged Pope Francis to raise the issue of human rights during his first visit to the country. Families of those sentenced to death sought the Pope's assistance in halting the execution of their loved ones.

Bahrain Mirror published letters in the name of the Bahraini people, prisoners, and displaced persons to the Pope of the Vatican, in addition to several articles under the folder, "Pope Stands With or Against," which were translated into English and Spanish.

The opposition's media campaign succeeded in pushing the Vatican to address human rights issues, which had initially been planned to be avoided.

At the beginning of his visit, on November 3, 2022, Pope Francis, seated alongside King Hamad, criticized the death penalty.

Referring to Bahrain's constitution, he insisted that commitments should constantly be put into practice so that "religious freedom will be complete", equal dignity and equal opportunities are "concretely recognised for each group", and that no forms of discrimination exist nor human rights "violated".

"I think in the first place comes the right to life, and the need to guarantee that right always, including for those being punished, whose lives should not be taken," he added.

The opposition welcomed the statements of Pope Francis, with the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society stating, "We agree with what Pope Francis said and call for a serious project to stop discrimination and restore freedoms. Pope Francis has launched a package of essential and crucial humanitarian values and principles."

In response to the Pope's words, the King issued a statement after midnight, claiming that Bahrain, according to its principles, is keen on affirming and preserving human rights.

It's worth noting that the Sheikh of Al-Azhar avoided addressing human rights violations in Bahrain, which were highlighted by Pope Francis at the beginning of the visit.


Arabic Version