ADHRB raises attack on Freedom of Religion in Bahrain

On 1 October 2020, ADHRB has delivered an oral intervention at the United Nation Human Rights Council session 45 during interactive debate under item 8.

Mr vice President,

ADHRB would like to call the Council’s attention to Bahrain’s violations of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action regarding the freedom of religion. Indeed, the VDPA highlights the state’s obligation to provide for the right to freedom of thought, conscience, expression and religion.

According to the VDPA and human rights laws, all individuals should be able to profess and practice their religion. However, the government of Bahrain discriminated against the Shia citizens, which makes up as much as 70% of the population in Bahrain. Indeed, the authorities of Bahrain prevent the majority of its population from freely practices their religion. They destroyed mosques, place of worship, imprisoned Shia clerics, and prevented the celebrations of religious ceremonies.

The repression of the Ashura during the Muharram is emblematic of the systematic repression of Shia’s religious expression. During the Ashora’s religious commemoration, the Ministry of Interior under the direct order of the current minister Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al-Khalifa summoned and detained several Shia religious scholars and Shia citizens because they have practiced their faith.

Moreover, during the month of July and August, the government used the current pandemic to impose further restrictions on Ashura’s Shia celebration. For example, they decided to ban the broadcasting of Quran recitation, sermons, and speeches through speakers solely for Ma’tams and Husainias, which are used by the Shia citizens. Therefore using the pandemic as an opportunity to double down the restriction of religious and cultural expression within the Shia community.

Thank you.