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
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
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.