On 28 March, ADHRB has delivered an oral intervention at the United Nation Human Rights Council session 49 under item 9, during the General debate. ADHRB calls Bahrain to end its religious discrimination policies against its citizens.
AlSalam would like to echo the concerns of the Durban Declaration regarding the emergence of negative stereotyping and hostile acts toward certain religious communities, while bringing attention to the state-sanctioned sectarianism suffered by the Shia population in Bahrain.
With the eruption of the pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011, the Bahraini government politicized the sectarian identity of the majority Shia population in order to frame demonstrators as Iranian agents, using that as a premise for its violent crackdown.
Since then, this rhetoric against the Shia community in Bahrain has persisted, with worshippers facing unjustified restrictions on their freedom of religion and members of the opposition being ostracized as unpatriotic agents whose loyalty lies with Iran. State media frequently publish opinion pieces pushing such narratives, and social media accounts spread hate speech calling Shia citizens Iranian agents and terrorists.
Despite this, the Cyber-Crimes Division has consistently failed to hold such individuals accountable, while focusing solely on targeting activists and government critics. The state’s overlooking of such crimes could only be interpreted as implicit support within its wider systemic discrimination against the Shia community whether in terms of political participation, employment in the security aparatus, or religious freedom.
In light of this, AlSalam calls onto the Council to pressure Bahrain into seriously combating the negative stereotyping of its Shia population to ensure that its citizens do not face discrimination on the basis of sect.