2019 Roundup: Al-Asfour, Two Tourism Ministry Directors, Two Al-Ayyam Newspaper Journalists Dismissed for Irritating Ruling Family

2020-01-16 - 7:58 p

Bahrain Mirror (2019 Roundup): In 2019, the government issued three decisions dismissing Bahrainis, including head of Jaffaira Endowments (Waqf) Sheikh Mohsen Al-Asfour (June 13, 2019) and two journalists from Al-Ayyam newspaper (July 4, 2019), and officials from the tourism authority (November 13, 2019). What makes these decisions significant is that they were all taken by senior members of the ruling family or as a result of their anger.

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa dismissed the head of Jaffaira Endowments after the latter wrote a letter to the king on May 8, 2019 complaining against Minister of Justice Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa. The letter addressing the king stressed that the justice ministry is not allowing the registration of new Shiite endowment funds and is impeding Endowment investments.

Al-Asfour leaked the letter, which contained information about the minister's failure to hand over copies of the old Waqfs of the Jaafari endowments, in order to subject them to the authority and supervision of the Waqf administration. Judges of Shariah courts prevented him from issuing any license to build mosques and new obsequies (Ma'tams) for Jaafari sect members and impeded any Endowments' investments.

As a result, local media outlets started to talk about the corruption in the Jaffaira Endowments Directorate, mentioned in the National Audit Office report, before the king issued an order dismissing Al-Asfour and appointing Yousef Saleh Al-Saleh instead.

Less than a month later, a poll published by Al-Ayyam newspaper (June 1, 2019) led to the dismissal of director of the sports department Akil Al-Sayed, as well as journalist Abdullah Al-Babtin. The poll held criticism of the Bahraini clubs against the Sports and Youths Minister Ayman Al-Muayyad.

The King's son Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa posted on his twitter account a photo of the poll and commented by saying, "there's some who rode the wrong wave. It is time for the truth. Get ready for the response." As soon as Nasser bin Hamad wrote his comment, Al-Ayyam newspaper dismissed Al-Sayed and Al-Babtin.

On the same day, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa ordered investigating a letter signed by a number of employees against the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Zayed Al-Zayani.

In a letter dated May 20, 2019, the employees said that the Minister was late in adopting the budget of the Authority, which led to the freezing of projects and impacting the planned timeline.

The complaints were not limited to the administrative side only, as the staff confirmed that they were insulted and ridiculed by the minister. "Threatening with dismissal and humiliating members of the team has repeatedly become one of the destructive factors," the letter added.

Instead of investigating the claims mentioned in the letter, the Crown Prince issued an order to set up a commission of inquiry to interrogate "whoever intended to insult and defame as well as commit any administrative violations by not complying with the regulations and provisions of the law."

The Civil Service Office issued a statement on November 13, 2019 saying that after interrogating "those involved in signing the letter (...) it was shown that they misbehaved contrary to the requirements of public office or undermined its dignity by defaming others through slander."

The statement said that "it was decided to suspend three directors from service, a director and an employee for ten days with a salary deduction."

Arabic Version