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54 Religious Freedom Violations during 8 Days of Ashura Season: Bahrain Forum for Human Rights

Bahrain Forum for Human Rights President Baqer Darwish
Bahrain Forum for Human Rights President Baqer Darwish

2019-09-09 - 9:55 p

Bahrain Mirror: The Bahrain Forum for Human Rights (BFHR) said that it has recorded in the first eight days (September 1-8) of the Ashura season 54 violations of freedom of religion and belief and the Shia Muslims' commemoration of Ashura in Bahrain.

According to BFHR, these violations included: security summons and interrogations for the purpose of intimidation, arbitrary arrests, confiscation of Ashura banners and flags and vandalism of Ashura manifestations in ten Bahraini areas, as well as the harassment of prisoners of conscience over their practice of religious rituals in detention centers.

The Forum pointed out that the outcome was as follows: (54) cases related to the crackdown on the Ashura commemoration, including vandalism and confiscation of Ashura banners and flags which amounted to (11) cases, (4) cases of arrests of preachers and Ma'tam (Shiite mourning halls) officials, and summoning of preachers, religious vocalists and Ma'tam officials to police stations and interrogating them over the content of their speeches or religious poems or the content of some religious banners used in Hussainiyahs (Shiite congregation halls) which reached (39) cases.

The Forum said that the security authorities adopt a methodology to undermine religious freedoms as a policy of collective punishment in an attempt to impose official customs that criminalize certain religious practices and rights. The Bahraini authorities have used its legal powers of interrogation and judicial pursuit as tools of intimidation against preachers and religious vocalists, which constitutes a crackdown on their freedom of belief in particular, and their freedom of expression in general, guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in Articles 18 and 19.

BFHR highlighted that according to its observation, the majority of cases are related to the restriction of religious discourse spoken by religious scholars and preachers in religious events or religious vocalists in processions and mourning gatherings. The authorities through their summons interrogated them about the content and nature of their speeches, and whether the speeches contained criticism of the authorities or mentioned politics, in addition to interrogating them about the use of the Ashura slogan launched by Bahraini clerics "with a victorious Imam Mansour". The outcome of the interrogation was aimed at informing preachers and religious vocalists that they are under close surveillance and that they should beware of discussing any political issues or religious subject that can be connected to the political reality.

The Forum also mentioned that the clerics and preachers who were summoned are the following: Sheikh Abdulmohsen Al-Jamri, Sheikh Munir Al-Matouq (twice), Sheikh Mahmoud Al-Ajimi, Mullah Qasim Zainuddin, Sheikh Fadel Al-Zaki, Sheikh Jaafar Al-Sayegh, Sheikh Sadiq Rabie, Mullah Jawad Miraz, Sheikh Isa Eid, Sheikh Hamed Ashour, Sheikh Zuhair Al-Khal, Sayed Jaber Al-Shahrakani, Sheikh Isa Al-Mu'min, Sheikh Mohammed Ali Al-Mahfouz, Mulla Mahdi Al-Manami, Sheikh Hassan Al-Ali, Sheikh Hani Al-Banaa, Sheikh Abdul Amir Malallah, Sheikh Aziz Al-Khodran, Sayed Ahmed Al-Wadaie, Sheikh Hassan Al-Shakhouri, Sheikh Ali Ashour.

It further stated that the religious vocalists who were summoned are the following: Ahmad Al-Owainati, Ali Hammadi, Sayed-Hadi Al-Biladi, and Abu-Sajjad Abdullah Al-Bouri (twice).

BFHR stressed that the Bahraini areas that have been subjected to violations related to the assault on Ashura are as follows: Al-Musalla, Al-Markh, Karbabad, Hamad Town 4th Roundabout, Jurdab, Shakhura, Buri, Nabih Saleh, Karzakan, Al-Bilad Al-Qadim.


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