Bahrain’s king calls for sweeping reforms in religious sector

September 5, 2010
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Bahrain’s king has called for sweeping reforms in the country’s religious sector to ensure that only competent and moderate preachers deliver sermons.

“We have decided to instruct the government authority in charge of religious affairs to devote more attention to our religious forums and to ensure that they are used only by those who are adequately qualified, are good citizens, have a fine character, are committed to the group, are moderate and reject violence,” King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa said. “This will be part of a comprehensive programme to reform the religious sector and turn it into a shiny beacon of faith and piety that boosts reforms, stimulates development, reinforces unity, spreads love and compassion between people and builds the future,” he said in a speech marking the end of Ramadan and carried by Bahrain Television in its evening news.

Under the king’s initiative, “men of thought, science, culture, arts, literature as well as civil society organizations in Bahrain have to address social issues that have religious dimensions.”

“This will offer our young people prospects for a sound understanding, narrow the gap between the Islamic sects, and build bridges between the Islamic civilization and other civilizations in the crucible of a universal civilization,” he said. “The men of intellect and culture should work on a new educational system based on the interaction, cooperation and convergence of sects, and the principles of peace, love and recognition of others.”
King Hamad said that such a holistic treatment of the issue would achieve commendable results if everybody took part in it with sincerity and goodwill.

Referring to the situation in Bahrain following the announcement on Saturday by the National Security Agency (NSA) that it had dismantled a network seeking to change the political regime through the use of force, the king said that he deplored the “un-Islamic and unlawful attitudes of some Bahrainis”, but insisted that the law would be applied.

“The recent painful events in our serene Kingdom are an example of a departure from society, strife, aggression and terrorism. They are all religiously forbidden, alien to the people of Bahrain and contrary to their noble morals and gracious characters.

Those who incited the people did not anticipate the consequences and did not consider that they would in fact harm themselves instead of benefiting their homeland, fathers and mothers through hard work and decent living,” he said.

“We have been watching these acts and took the necessary legal action against the perpetrators. Our action included pardoning them in the hope that they would recover their senses and would take up good work like most of our decent people. However, they mistook the pardon for their abuses and violations as evidence that they are above the law, continued their acts and received training on all types of sabotage. We are saddened by how wrong they are and how they kept shunning the right way,” he said.

King Hamad said that he “hoped and expected everyone to confront those who target Bahrain’s unity, safety, security and stability.”

“We hope and expect that everyone will stand firm to protect this nation from strife and evils in the face of violence and terrorism in all its forms and hold on to the great values in our religion of tolerance, fraternity, peace, compassion, cooperation, unity, harmony and obedience to God and His Messenger and the rulers.”

         

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About the author

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

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