We, the British Shi’a community, are increasingly concerned by the continued discrimination against Shi’a Muslims in Bahrain by the Bahraini government. In times of difficulty it is imperative for us to voice our concerns. As the Archbishop of Canterbury so eloquently said in November 2013: “we have responsibilities to speak, even when it might be easier to stay quiet, to point to injustice and to challenge others to join us in righting it.”
In 2011, the Bahraini government destroyed 30 Shi’a mosques and religious sites, including the 400 year old Amir Muslim Mohammed Barbagi Mosque. While some of these religious sites have been rebuilt following condemnation of this act from the Bahraini Independent Commission of Inquiry; however, some, including the Barbaqi Mosque, remain untouched. The destruction of these sacred Shi’a sites shows a lack of respect for the Shi’a community in Bahrain.
In April of this year, Sheikh Hussein al-Najati, Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani’s highest representative in Bahrain, was expelled from the country and stripped of his citizenship. To date, Al-Najati’s citizenship has not been reinstated, rendering him stateless. Since November 2012, 30 other people have been stripped of their Bahraini nationality, rendering them victims of statelessness. The removal of citizenship by a state in this way is a practice that has widely been condemned by the UN.
Following the demonstrations in 2011, during which both Sunni and Shi’a citizens called for the Bahraini government to fulfil its promises of reform, a number of Shi’a citizens continue to be imprisoned for participating in the protests.
The Bahraini government has failed to act on many of the recommendations made by the Bahraini Independent Commission of Inquiry and has yet to fulfil its promises of political reform in the state. In a recent report issued by the US State Department, identified a number of human rights concerns in Bahrain, including the inability of citizens to change their government peacefully, the arrest and detention of protestors on vague charges, cases of torture in detention and a lack of due process in trails.
Recent efforts by the Bahraini government to present itself as a champion of interfaith dialogue ring hollow to those who are experiencing religious persecution at the hands of that same government. Considering the traditionally closer relationship between Bahrain and Britain, the Shi’a Muslim community of Britain calls upon the British government to refrain from supporting the Bahraini government by providing it with arms it can use against its own people.
1. Alkhoei Islamic Foundation
2. Dar Al Islam Foundation
3. Abrar Islamic Foundation
4. The Ahlul Bayt Islamic Centre
5. International Dialogue Foundation
6. World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League (WABIL)
7. Council of Europran Jamaats
8. Majlis-e-ulama Shia Europe
9. Shia Ithna’ashari Community of Middlesex