Bahrain sports association under fire for allowing athlete to compete against Israeli runner

August 5, 2010

A Bahraini NGO dedicated to resisting all forms of normalization with Israel has called for stringent action against Bahraini officials who allowed an athlete to compete against an Israeli runner in the world track and field junior championship.

“We were shocked by the news that Bahrain’s track association has not moved in time to withdraw a Bahraini athlete from a running competition that included a runner from the Zionist entity,” Bahrain Society for Resisting Normalisation with the Zionist Entity said. “We want the sports association to explain what happened and to take action against all those who allowed this dangerous development to take place. The popular stance against Israel is very clear and there can be no opportunity, no matter how small it is, to open up channels with the entity that is occupying Arab lands,” Abdullah Abdul Malik, the society spokesman, said in a statement.

The Bahraini athlete competed in the IAAF World Junior Championships held in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, on July 19-25.

The society vehemently opposes any form of political, social, economic or sports contact with the Israelis. In May took a string stance against the possibility of holding a football match between Bahrain and Palestine near Jerusalem, claiming that the Bahraini players would have to go through Israeli customs and police. Attempts by Palestinian officials to encourage Bahrain to go ahead with the match amid assurances that the team would not have any contact with the Israelis have not been successful.

“It is clear that the people are opposed to the match that would force the team to go through Israeli checkpoints. Now, all NGOs, civil and political societies and sports club should come forth in condemning the participation of a Bahraini athlete alongside Israelis,” the spokesman said. “The parliament has been clear about such situations.”

The society said that it was sending an official letter to the athletics association to protest against the participation.

Bahrain, like most Arab countries, has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

In 2007, Bahrain took strong action against an athlete who ran and won a marathon in Israel without permission, stripping him of his citizenship.

Manama said that Mushir Salem Jawher, who was born in Kenya but moved to Bahrain in 2003, had violated the laws of the country.

Mushir, whose original name is Leonard Mucheru, was the first athlete from an Arab country to compete in an Israeli marathon. He won the Tiberias Marathon in just over two hours and 13 minutes.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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