Bahrain Lives Real Tolerance
The whole Arab world, including Bahrain, failed to pay attention
to the significance of the International Day for Tolerance, which
passed on 16 November. However, civil society organizations in Bahrain
conducted some activities to commemorate the occasion.
Tolerance as a concept, value and virtue is connected to a number
of concepts and greater human values. It also paves the way for
the creation of cooperative and harmonious societies despite their
cultural, religious, ethnic and linguistic diversity.
Tolerance is especially important to Bahrain as it is a country
where Sunnis, Shias, Ismailis, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs
and Baha’is have all co-existed for a long time. This is not a coincidence,
as there is no such diversity in any other GCC country.
Religious tolerance among the Bahraini public is the real reason
behind the existence of such diversity. The Government, which is
the main decision-maker in the country, has long realised that there
is a social susceptibility to host this kind of diversity. This
is reflected in the existence of churches, temples, graveyards,
religious groups and civil society organizations. Also, in the freedom
to practice rituals, set up private schools and celebrate special
days and holidays.
It is important to sustain this state of tolerance in Bahrain
in order to promote unifying human values and partnership on the
basis of land and mutual interests. New generations should also
be educated that cultural diversity is a great asset, and does not
constitute barriers or ghettos, rather, it is an opportunity for
openness, dialogue and enrichment.
The closer the political system is to democracy, the easier it
will be to take steps and adopt projects that help bring people
together, prevent the creation of boundaries and obstacles, and
make it difficult for extremists to be influenced with foreign ideas.
It would also prevent any social or political polarizations on the
bases of ideology, ethnicity or stereotypes.
Without tolerance, the rule of law, and the margin of freedom
which the new democratic experience provides, the country’s diversity
will be threatened, and it may become an obstacle in the development
of the State, instead of being a unique characteristic of Bahrain.
As a result, the country could lose its immunity against extremism,
hatred and misleading philosophies, which are based on the monopolization
of the truth.
In order to maintain a tolerant society and make our country
immune against extremism and hatred, we should look for new programmes
and policies that promote tolerance and educate new generations
through schools and religious rhetoric. We should also treat all
citizens and residents equally without discrimination or denial
of their rights. This will promote tolerance on the ground and prevent
the appearance of intolerant stereotypes of the ‘Other’.