ADHRB at HRC55: We call on Bahrain to end sectarian discrimination and protect religious freedoms

On 27th March 2024, ADHRB delivered an intervention at the United Nation Human Rights Council session 55 under item 8 during the General debate. ADHRB condemned Bahrain’s restrictions on Shia religious practices.

We express deep concern over Bahrain’s ongoing violations of religious freedom,  especially targeting Shia citizens, which contravene the Vienna Declaration and contradict official claims.

During the recent Ashura season, arrests were made for refusing to remove banners, summoning religious leaders, and disrupting processions. The Interior Minister’s restrictions on foreign preachers during Muharram further curtailed religious freedom.

Since 2011, Bahrain has consistently restricted Shia rights, closing mosques and disrupting Friday prayers. Security forces deploy military vehicles near Shia mosques to confront demonstrations expressing solidarity with Palestinians facing Israeli attacks, leading the ICJ to issue warnings to Israel to prevent genocide. Bahraini authorities persistently refuse to broadcast Shia-specific events on government-owned media. Religious leaders, such as Sheikh Mohamed Sanqour, face sectarian-based summons and arrests, charged with “insulting authorities” for refusing curriculum changes to satisfy Israel.

On 12 November 2023, Bahraini authorities arrested historian Jasim AlAbbas and charged him with incitement and threatening civil peace, for discussing the historical context of Islam and Shiism in Bahrain.

We condemn the restrictions on Shia religious practices and call on Bahrain to end sectarian discrimination and uphold its commitments to respect and protect religious freedoms.