Sectarianism Violates Human Rights & Common Sense

There can be no real reform project or respect for human rights in any country if sectarianism is deeply rooted in its political, social, cultural and religious elites. Moreover, sectarianism also contradicts the notion of citizenship and equality as it legitimizes discrimination between citizens, whereby the religion or sect you belong to determines whether you are a first or second class citizen. Sectarian practices constitute an impediment to the enjoyment by citizens of their rights established by the Constitution and relevant international conventions.

Sectarianism denies the simple fact that people whatever their background are born free and have equal rights and dignity. It also ignores that cultural and sectarian diversity – as in Bahrain- is a source of enrichment, progress and prosperity for societies in general, and therefore such sectarian diversity should not only be accepted and appreciated, but also protected and defended. Diversity should not be seen as a source of schism, danger and instability. Sectarianism thus violates all human rights principles adopted by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which encourages the respect of basic rights for all and without discrimination on the basis of race, colour, gender, language, religion or political opinion.

It is in the nature of sectarianism to incite blind hatred, encourage schisms, insults and abuse, and dehumanize the ‘other’. It not only prevents the establishment of good and sound relations between citizens, but causes many local disagreements. Sectarianism is an effective tool in destroying social peace and threatening the security of citizens, reflecting negatively on political stability and on people’s daily lives.

Sectarianism contradicts all religious values, such as justice, forgiveness, freedom, brotherhood, moderation and equality. The claim that a particular sect possesses the religious ‘truth’ and that only its followers are the ‘saved group’ is unethical, scientifically unacceptable, unjust to its followers and to others and paves the way for social disagreement, schisms, extremism and instability.

It is obvious that the increase in sectarian language in political and religious discourse or in the general behaviour of individuals and institutions is extremely dangerous and narrow minded. Giving free reign to irrational sectarian feelings which contradict Islamic principles, the Constitution and the law, is an insult to the many achievements accomplished by reform project. It also proves that the available margin of freedom has been misused alongside the misuse of authority by some officials and MPs.

One cannot but commend the King’s speech on the 10th anniversary to his accession of the throne, in which he stressed the importance of establishing harmonious relations between the various segments of Bahraini society, emphasizing that a harmonious society reflects national unity. He also noted that protecting harmony can only be achieved by joining forces and standing united as one hand does not clap alone.