What does Bahrain Ruling Family Seek from the Pope's Visit Coinciding with Elections?
2022-10-31 - 6:14 p
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Bahrain's Parliamentary elections will take place only 6 days after His Holiness Pope Francis leaves the country. The ruling family wants to present itself as running a country crowded with dialogues on human tolerance and democracy.
The regime wants to say that it offers a thriving model of political participation, individual freedom, and coexistence. This model appeals to many Western leaders and covers up the human rights violations the authorities practice against their citizens.
In fact, this model is not the brainchild of the ruling family, but rather an Israeli copy, as it confronts the people with force and markets itself differently abroad. Israel portrays itself as a civilized and democratic state in an environment full of violence and war, as it is the case with Bahrain.
The ruling family tightens the security grip on civil society institutions and opposition political parties such as Al-Wefaq, under the claim of "maintaining security," and invests in presenting an image of Bahrain full of money and freedom to Western observers.
Even as it persecutes the indigenous Shia community, Bahrain's ruling family brags about its record of caring for the rights of religious minorities such as Christians and Jews, and for this purpose it is welcoming His Holiness the Pope to participate in the dialogue of human coexistence and meet his faithful followers.
As part of its security tactics, Bahrain dissolved opposition parties and sentenced opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman to life in prison under the pretext of confronting extremism and terrorism, which Tel Aviv is doing against organizations calling for the restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced in October 2021 that six Palestinian NGOs in the occupied West Bank had been designated as "terrorist". These are the same accusations brought against dissidents in Bahrain.
Bahrain has benefited from Israeli technology in tightening and censoring civil society institutions, online content and communications and denying dissidents opportunities for coordination. It acquired Pegasus spyware and was able to access the data and conversations of Bahraini dissidents inside and outside the country.
Bahrain has also used Iran as an excuse to deprive Shiites of their civil and political rights, and to promote that it faces a threat from Tehran that threatens its democratic experience and social fabric. It is no wonder that Israel shares the same narrative.
Bahrain's ruling family has exploited the West's hostility to Iran to easily pass on its claims and reflect a false image of the situation in the country that fits the Western standard in terms of claiming that it is the one who preserves prosperity and diversity and that others are working to destroy it.
Unfortunately, Bahrain seems to be using the visit of His Holiness the Pope to promote itself in this regard. It is not unlikely that the coincidence between the two events (the Pope's visit and the elections) is intentional, to gain more media momentum.
The Bahraini opposition certainly welcomes the Pope's visit to the country, but refuses to be exploited in government propaganda that the ruling family sponsors diversity and democracy, and sees that talking openly to the host and urging them to take a tolerant approach with the majority is the best His Holiness can do for the country.