Bahrain Mirror: The Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society stressed in a letter to his Holiness, Pope Francis, on the eve of his visit to Bahrain, that the reality in the country is not as the authorities depict it, noting that the authorities are attempting to exploit the pope's visit to cover up the systemic discrimination.
Al-Wefaq, Bahrain's largest National Society, addressed in a statement Pope Francis, who is visiting Bahrain and attending a conference on peace and coexistence.
In its statement, Al-Wefaq said, "the authorities in Bahrain are not elected or delegated by Bahrainis. There is a major crisis related to the absence of tolerance, closure of all doors of dialogue by the authorities, prevalence of injustice and political and sectarian persecution in our country."
Al-Wefaq underlined that it firmly believes that the authorities in Bahrain are using this visit and this conference in order to exploit them at the expense of the rights of citizens and their violated freedoms, as the situation related to human rights, freedoms and tolerance is extremely bad.
It went on to say that the authorities seek to "take advantage of the visit to cover up the reality of severe and deep religious persecution and discrimination on the basis of religion, sect and ethnicity, which is no longer hidden from anyone; all UN and international agencies have talked about it accurately and in details in their reports, and speeches during the past periods."
Al-Wefaq's statement included 6 main points on the political and human rights situation in the country.
First: the prisons of the Bahraini regime are overcrowded with religious scholars, professors, elites and national figures who are subjected to torture, humiliation and contempt due to their religious, political, social and human rights views. Injustice has reached an unacceptable limit from the humanitarian point of view.
Second: Your holy visit comes at a time when the regime is absenting most of Bahrain's scholars, mainly the most prominent spiritual leader, His Eminence Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, whose nationality was revoked by the regime, who was brought to trial and citizens were killed in front of his house and is now forcibly residing abroad with senior scholars and figures in several countries due to the regime's sectarian and repressive policies against religious freedoms and the lack of a culture of tolerance.
Dozens of scholars are also languishing in the regime's prisons, including the head of the largest national society and the largest bloc in the history of parliament, Sheikh Ali Salman, as well as Sheikh Abduljalil Al-Meqdad, and dozens of scholars. Hundreds of religious scholars have been targeted as well and assualted in the past period.
Third: The regime in Bahrain continues to practice sectarian discrimination in a very violent and systematic manner that targets the political, religious, cultural, social, economic, security, humanitarian, educational and service aspects of life, and these practices have left tens of thousands of victims and citizens with violated rights.
Fourth: The regime practices a flagrant violation of human rights and public freedoms, fights freedom of thought, conscience, freedom of religion and belief, blocks freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of the press, prevents freedom of assembly and peaceful protest, prevents the formation of political societes and has acted violently in the face of civil society and eliminated pluralism and diversity.
Fifth: The regime in Bahrain categorically rejects dialogue, punishes all advocates of dialogue, arrests and imprisons the most prominent advocates of dialogue, rejects all calls of civil and political society, national figures, the international community and the United Nations who invited it to dialogue with its people. The regime also totally rejects internal religious tolerance and masters sectarian persecution.
Sixth: There are still tens of thousands of families living under the weight of injustice, and the absence of their parents in prisons and exile. Citizens are still targeted even in terms of scholarships, official jobs and promotions. They are deprived of owning land and houses in certain areas as a systemic sectarian policy due to discrimination on the basis of their religion and sect, and there are still a number of mosques demolished by the regime. 38 Shiite mosques were demolished, and the regime is still preventing the reconstruction of a number of them to date. Additionally, there are hundreds of religious institutions that have not been compensated for what they suffered from assualt and sabotage at the hands of the regime's security and military apparatus.