Bahrainis concerned Ramadan will be used for elections purposes

August 2, 2011

Bahrainis have expressed concerns about the exploitation of Ramadan, the month of religious devotion, for political purposes as the country is gearing up for by-elections in September.

“Incidents in the 2006 and 2010 elections when Ramadan was used by some candidates to project a positive image about themselves are still vividly recalled,” Ahmad Al Dossari, a public relations officer, said. “Many people feel uneasy about how religion is used to further political ambitions,” he said as Bahrain, like most Muslim countries, started fasting on Monday.

More than 110,000 Bahrainis will next month elect 18 new lawmakers to replace the MPs who represented Al Wefaq Islamic Society, the largest opposition group, in the lower chamber and who resigned in February to protest against the way the authorities handled demonstrations.

“We are bound to see candidates attending group prayers regularly and engaging in charitable activities in order to boost their credit among the people who will cast their ballots on September 24,” Mohammad Sultan, an accountant, said. “There will be again confusion between genuine charitable work and make-believe acts, and potential voters will have problems distinguishing between them,” he said.

Political societies with strongly active social and religious arms have often been charged of using their potential to promote their candidates.

“We often see them engage ostentatiously in religious and social welfare activities. We understand their attitudes as they seek to win seats, but they have to keep religion out of it,” Nour Abdul Aziz, a teacher, said.

“We have bitter memories from what happened in 2006, and especially in Ramadan 2010, and we should hate to see a repeat of all that,” she said.



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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