Tuesday, July 20, 2010

HAQ: Movement of Liberties and Democracy- Bahrain
حق: حركة الحريات والدموقراطية- البحرين
مكتب حقوق الإنسان ..Human Rights Bureau

www.haaq.org, Email: HAAQ.Bahrain@gmail.com

Banned from prayer and addressing arayers in Al-Sadeq Shia Mosque

Arrest and later release of Sh. Al-Muqdad

20 July 2010

The Bahraini Authorities is continuously deploying armed forces, made of mercenaries of different nationalities, to prevent Shia citizens from freely exercising their religious freedom, and also prevent their political and human rights activists from addressing people and express their views and exchange stances and postures. These acts are source of instability and social unrests as exemplified by the numerous and the daily protests and confrontations between MOI forces and protestors in villages.

The latest event in this issue is when armed Special Forces were deployed this morning to arrest Shaikh Mohamed Habib Al-Meqdad, a well known social activist and a scholar, alleging that he refrained from attending a public prosecution (PP) summon issued a day earlier. The PP accused Sh. Al-Muqdad of calling for illegal gathering /demonstration towards Salmaneyya Hospital in the evening of Friday 9th July. After few hours of interrogation at the PP, Sh. Al-Muqdad was released on guarantee of his residence. Sh. Mirza Al-Mahroos, a colleague to Sh. Al-Meqdad is to appear tomorrow at the PP to face the same charges.

Protests and unrests spread in many villages and areas in Bahrain as a result of the news.
Earlier on yesterday (Sunday) afternoon, scores of armed Special Forces, with the help of members of traffic directorate, blocked all road entrance leading to Al-Sadeq Mosque to prevent Sh. Mohamed Al-Meqdad and prayers from coming closer to the mosque for Magrib (Dusk) prayer. Sh. Al-Meqdad declared last Saturday that in response to last Friday (July 16) ban, he intend to come to the Mosque on Sunday to pray and deliver speech. Al-Muqdad and many prayers were denied reaching the area as the area of the Mosque and its car park were besieged by the armed Special Forces. On last Friday, Isa Al-Qattan, the MOI officer leading the attack on the Mosque told Sh. Al-Meqdad that he is banned from praying at Al-Sadeq mosque. When Al-Meqdad inquired about the official mandate, Al-Qattan responded that by wearing the official military uniform he represents the State.

This is not the first time that the Ministry of Interior (MOI) ban some popular figures from leading the prayer in Al-Sadeq Mosque and address the prayers afterwards. In January 2009, Mr. Hasan Mushaima, the Secretary General of HAQ Movement was prevented using armed Special Forces and banned from coming closer to the premises of the mosque. In February of the same year and after detaining Mr. Mushaima, MOI reverted to the use of force to prevent Sh. Abdulhadi Al-Mokhouder, a young scholar and reformist, from leading Friday evening prayers and delivering a speech to the public at the same place. The SF, made of non-Bahrainis, prevented the mosque care taker to open it for prayers and blocked its car park from any visitor intending to park for sake of praying in that Shia mosque.

The act of the Authorities to prevent Shia scholars and activists from leading prayers and then addressing public is a blatant violation of the ICCPR conceded by Bahrain on September 20, 2006, particularly their exercise of religious freedom as postulated by Article 18, and the right of freedom of expression and addressing people, as shown by Article 19. Article 18 of the ICCPR states that: "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice". While Article 19 states that: "Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice."

HAQ expresses its grave concerns to the stifling measures by the local Authorities against all forms of freedom of expression in general and religious freedoms of Shia citizens in particular. This attitude is likely to trigger more protests and violent confrontations between the deployed armed Special Forces, made of foreign mercenaries, and national protestors. HAQ, therefore, calls for:

1. The Authorities to:
a. Stop targeting Shia citizens when expressing their beliefs or practicing their religious rights.
b. Call off its force deployment to prevent Shia activists from leading prayers and addressing people.
c. Respect and observe its commitments and vows to international covenants and declarations.

2. The UN Special Rapporteurs on:
a. Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression to consider Bahrain at the top of country visits to come closer to the systematic violations to all forms of freedom of expression.
b. Freedom of Religion or Belief to swiftly visit Bahrain and meet with Shia activists and organizations to assess the situation with regards to targeting Shia which went beyond discriminatory levels.

For more information, please contact Dr. Abduljalil Alsingace at Mobile:0044-7871087060, Email:asingace@gmail.com