HRC37 Intervention on Bahrain’s sectarian discrimination

On Tuesday 20 March 2018, during the Item 9 General Debate at the 37th session of the Human Rights Council, Yusuf Alhoori delivered on oral intervention on the Durban Declaration on Programme of Action and Bahrain’s systematic, state-sponsored sectarian discrimination against its Shia majority population. He focused in particular on sectarian discrimination in Bahrain’s security services and the implications of this state policy. Click here for a PDF of his intervention in English and here for his intervention in Arabic.

Mr. President,

ADHRB would like to raise our concern our concern over States’ failure to uphold elements of the Durban Declaration that address religious discrimination.

For example, in Bahrain, the government maintains a system of sectarian discrimination against the country’s majority Shia population through discriminatory policies for housing, education, civil liberties and in government hiring. Discrimination in public sector jobs is most pronounced in Bahrain’s military and security forces.

According to recent analysis, Bahrain’s security services include 2-5 percent Shia personnel, despite the Shia population comprising roughly 70% of the native Bahraini population. Shias are not represented in any senior leadership or command roles, and the majority of Shias recruited into the police forces are employed as low-level “community police,” deployed at checkpoints.

Disturbingly, ADHRB has also identified extremely sectarian publications issued by the Bahrain Defence Force, including the pamphlet Nur al-Sunna, which espouses State-backed conservative Wahhabi ideology, and offers religious justification for discrimination against, and even the murder of, Shias and other “non-believers.” Yet, when criticizing the hyper-sectarian ideology in Bahrain’s security forces leading to some defections to ISIS, human rights defender Nabeel Rajab was imprisoned for calling attention to this institutional sectarianism and extremism.

We therefore call on all States, including Bahrain, to work to counter sectarian discrimination, and institutional support for exclusionary and violent ideologies.

Thank you.