Islamic Menbar turns on itself after election losses in Bahrain

November 11, 2010

Members of the Islamic Menbar have begun fighting among themselves, after the Muslim Brotherhood society suffered a crushing defeat in the parliamentary and municipal elections last month.

The string of losses, over two rounds on October 23 and 30, has cut the presence of MPs representing the society in the lower chamber from seven in 2006-2010 to only two in the 2010 – 2014 term. In 2002 – 2006, the society had six MPs and in this year’s pre-election campaigns it said it was confident it would boost its presence to eight members.

The devastating defeat was compounded when Abdul Latif Al Shaikh, the society chairman and parliamentary party leader for 2006 – 2010, was not re-elected.

The recent loss of seats by members of the Menbar has been explained as a call to change the leadership and review the party’s strategies in dealing with supporters.

“The society has now turned on its members. There have been too many inappropriate attitudes by the leaders of Al Menbar,” Mohammad Khalid, a former MP who represented the society in the last two terms said.

“We have often blamed other societies for their non-Islamic attitudes, but we have ourselves made the same mistakes that are far away from the true spirit of Islam. That is why I have handed in my resignation,” he said.

Mohammad Khalid, told how several members of the party are also upset with the results and are planning to hand in their resignations.

“It is obvious that the society needs a deep review of its performance. The resignations are a quiet and peaceful, but strong message, about the need to change course,” he said.

However, the society chairman has denied claims that members from Al Menbar have resigned or plan to quit.

“These are critical times, but Al Menbar is robust and its members are supporting one another and working together,” Al Shaikh said on Wednesday evening.

“Competent groups are assessing the elections and the performance of the society with a spirit of transparency and openness. There is a genuine drive to draft the plans and strategies required to address the shortcomings in the October polls, and our next policy is to focus on close contacts with all segments of the community,” he said.

However, for Mohammad Khalid, whose uncompromising positions and aggressive comments have often sparked controversy, the resignation is final.

“I will not withdraw my resignation and I am planning to continue my activism independently. I cannot continue with Al Menbar after my family was attacked by members of the campaign team from the society, who were promoting my replacement in the constituency,” he said.

“I have been accused of being ungrateful and Al Menbar did nothing to defend me or preserve my dignity.”

According to the former MP, the Islamic Menbar lost in the elections after it failed to strike a deal with Al Asala, a branch of Salafism in Bahrain, like it did in 2006 with the result that the two Islamist societies had 15 MPs in the 40-seat lower chamber.

“Another reason is that the two parties engaged in a ridiculous war of words that caused their downfall,” he said.

Al Asala lost five of the eight seats it had in 2006 – 2010 and is now struggling to save some dignity by securing one of the top positions in the lower chamber. The erosion of the two Islamists societies allowed independent candidates to win and to become the second largest bloc behind Al Wefaq, Bahrain’s largest political and religious society.
Al Wefaq carried the 18 constituencies in which it fielded candidates.



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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