Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Britain's Asylum, Foreign Policy Criticized By Bahraini Lawmaker

Britain's Asylum, Foreign Policy Criticized By Bahraini Lawmaker

August 4, 2008 6:15 p.m. EST
Sandeep Singh Grewal - AHN Middle East Correspondent

Manama, Bahrain (AHN) - Britain has been accused by a lawmaker here of double standards against Bahraini citizens and of sheltering groups which incite hatred against the country. Parliament member Shaikh Jassim Al Saidi lashed out at the British authorities regarding their foreign policy for Arab states and relaxed asylum procedures.
"The government run by Prime Minister Gordon Brown is sheltering lawbreakers who promote terrorism in Bahrain. It is strange that people who are convicted of crimes are granted asylum and financial support in Britain," the MP told AHN.

The Independent Salafist MP claimed he possessed pertinent documents and leaflets of some unregistered organizations operating in the United Kingdom which were against the political reforms initiated by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

Several political activists who left Bahrain operate in the U.K. The London-based Freedom Movement is one such Islamist group which has anti-government articles on their website, which is blocked by the Bahrain authorities. Last year, members of the Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) staged a protest outside the Bahrain Embassy in Washington D.C. It reportedly included some people who received political amnesty and did not return to Bahrain.

"How would British people feel if Bahrain starts granting asylum to members of the Irish Republican Army? They should understand that these political groups incite hatred against our country which also violates the U.K. laws," the lawmaker questioned.

Abdulnabi Al Ekry, the head of Transparency International, Bahrain and a former political prisoner, took exception with the legislator's criticism. Al Ekry told AHN, "There is an independent body in the UK responsible for asylum policy and not the government. But with the same token, the Bahrain government should also study why some people left the country and refused to return."

The activist cited the examples of two Bahrainis who had taken asylum in UK: they were the heads of the Committees of Unemployment and Victims of Torture. "It is clear that these individuals must have faced some problems. They need to review the cases of these dissidents to reach a conclusion," Al Ekry said.

Earlier this year, Interior Minister Lt. General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa met with the British Ambassador to Bahrain, James Bowden. The minister discussed some people who were given the right of asylum. He also explained their motives to influence home security, shifting to countries such as Iran and Lebanon and the fear of considering the U.K. a shelter for groups that harm the security of Britain and Bahrain.

The Minister confirmed that those people were not politically wanted and were not prevented from coming back home.