Liberals to strengthen movement against sectarianism

March 16, 2013

Bahrain’s liberals are looking at ways to strengthen their movement and present it as the inclusive and unifying alternative to the exclusive and divisive sectarianist tendencies that have emerged in the country.

“Our main objective is to strengthen the democratic movement as the force that brings together all people,” Abdul Nabi Salman, head of the Democratic Progressive Tribune, has said. “The movement will be the viable option to replace the ugly sectarian discourse dominating the landscape. It is time for us to overcome this situation and to expose sectarianism,” he said in remarks published by local Arabic daily Al Ayam.

Liberals will use their experience and their status in their comprehensive and inclusive national movement towards democracy and human rights, he said.

“We will work closely with all patriotic forces and patriots who share this importance of this alternative and who are ready to work towards its goals,” he said.

Liberals in Bahrain have come under heavy criticism in recent years for their inability to work together to promote secularism and resist the emergence and the dominance of sectarianism.

“As we celebrate the March 1965 uprising, we will work on regaining the unity of the country,” Abdul Nabi said. “The leaders of the democratic movement want to lay down robust foundations for this movement to ensure its sustainability and its ability to promote national solidarity and the protection of all the components of the society,” he said.

In March 1965, leftists spearheaded a popular movement that included workers, students and intellectuals across religious sects calling for the end of the British colonisation of Bahrain. Several activists were killed in the clashes and hundreds lost their jobs.

The tragedy has been regularly commemorated by the left in Bahrain, but liberals wanted to give it a special significance this year as the country is still trying to heal the scars left by deep divergences over the merit of the events that unfolded in February 2011.

Liberals from the Progressive Tribune, the National Democratic Action Society “Waad” and the Nationalist Rally, the major secular societies in the country, hope to help push the country away from sectarianism and regain its unity.

Bahrain has 21 licensed political formations, but Islamists from the Shiite and Sunni sects dominate politically and socially.



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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