Saudi Arabia, Kuwait Decide to Allow Ashura Commemoration, Bahrain Chooses Conflict

2020-08-19 - 9:32 p

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): A medical source expects the number of Coronavirus cases in Bahrain to jump to 600 a day during Ashura, even with the closure of obsequies, as religious commemorations are expected to be held in secret, which will prevent direct tracking.

Such a view may support the idea of publicly performing religious ceremonies in limited numbers, in order to keep the situation under control, rather than completely losing control of these gatherings if they are organized in secret, especially if participants refrain from going to the hospital, fearing the authorities.

A true government that wants to contain people's reactions without allowing their religious emotions to threaten their lives, contacts them and talks to them instead of threatening their institutions with closure, fines, arrest, imprisonment and abuse. The authorities have not met (through their representatives appointed by the King in the Jaafari Endowments Directorate) with any of the obsequies' (religious congregation halls) administrators (in an annual meeting) until the moment of writing this report, even though Ashura will begin in a couple of days.

The scene really raises questions regarding the regime's intentions, even if the circumstance is actually prohibiting, it is like it is looking for an "excuse" to completely silence these rituals.

In Iraq, which has recently faced a curfew and severe restrictions due to the pandemic, authorities say they have not yet made a final decision on the commemoration of Ashura, but seemed far from allowing the restrictions to be lifted. However, an official said that regarding their decision, the authorities will take the statement of Iraq's supreme religious authority, Sayed Ali Al-Sistani, on Ashura commemoration into consideration.

In Bahrain, the authorities unfortunately do not recognize Shia religious scholars, nor civil institutions. They do not want the voice of Ashura to be heard neither this year nor the year after. Over the past 10 years, they have strongly fought Ashura, since it's the only political platform left to confront and criticize the authorities. To date, a number of well-known Husseini preachers are still behind bars over sermons they have delivered, such as Sheikh AbdulMohsen Al-Jamri.

Even in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Shiite religious rituals were allowed to be held in accordance with precautions, with the approval of the authorities.

Disagreement and different points of view are normal, if they remain outside the circle of political and religious targeting. There is disagreement over whether it is safe to allow public commemorations even in Iran, and in Lebanon as well which ended with Shiite institutions declaring Ashura to be commemorated only in private homes (although the number of daily cases there is still lower than Bahrain, given that the population of Lebanon is larger than that of Bahrain).

Over the past two days, Bahrain has recorded 460 cases daily, and the number of cases has risen again to more than 3,300.

But the question is not only how the authorities should deal with the Ashura spiritual commemoration practiced by Shiite citizens (whose religious and political freedoms are repressed by the regime), but also whether the government will actually review the schedule of lifting restrictions that begins early next month? 

The government made a serious decision to follow the "everyone does what he wants" policy with regards to schools, not obsequies and mosques. It is certain that parents are very capable of making the right decision regarding sending their children to school or not (next month). The authorities force schools to welcome students in classes under the condition of social distancing, reducing numbers of students, wearing masks, sterilization, and so on.

All of this is acceptable in schools, possible for school administrations, students and parents; however, it is unacceptable (and strictly forbidden) when it comes to obsequies, and not possible for their administrations and Shiite citizens to do.

The guardian has the right to decide whether to send his children to school, but the Shiite citizen has no right to decide whether he can go to an obsequy. 

Is the government afraid of Coronavirus or Ashura Commemoration?

Arabic Version

المصدر: Bahrain Mirror
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