Bahrain: The Aspirations We Seek

In his keynote address at the opening of the third parliamentary session, the King of Bahrain has used a lot of human rights, political, developmental and security terms, among others. Some of them represent the aspirations which citizens hope to be realised in Bahrain; while others represent the constants deemed necessary for sustaining Bahrain’s structure. These include the following:

First: Emphasizing the important role and core function of the Parliament (legislation and supervision); as the expression of the ‘popular will’, which means that any weakness in parliamentary performance constitutes forfeiture of the popular will and mandate which created the parliament in the first place. Poor parliamentary performance also constitutes a threat to state organs which have a constant need for new and more advanced laws, as well as parliamentary control to prevent corruption, waste, and administrative flabbiness. An advanced Bahrain will always need a strong parliament, representing the popular will and assuming its legislative and supervisory roles. Thus, if the parliament malfunctions, so will the executive bodies.

Second: Based on the mutual agreement between the Government and the people, the National Action Charter, Bahrain’s target is to move forward in building a state of institutions and laws, as highlighted in the King’s address. A state of institutions and laws is one that safeguards citizens fundamental rights, protects freedoms and consolidates the exercise of democracy. In other words, it is a state that respects the will of the people, believes in people’s freedom and dignity and safeguards their rights.

Third: Despite all the storms that have occurred in the social fabric, the King has stressed that the spirit of Bahrain draws its strength and power from cordiality, coexistence and moderation; and stressed that Bahrain, with its Arab and Islamic identity, is the homeland of all.

Bahrain is a melange. Its value lies in its multiplicity, diversity, moderation and tolerance, where the various colours of the rainbow coexist with no single colour prevailing or superseding other colours. This is a valuable asset for Bahrain which should be maintained, so that Bahrain’s citizens and others can enjoy these multiple colours, in accordance with the law, and in a manner that maintains human dignity.

Fourth: There are three rules which the King has proposed as national and social constants which sum up the spirit of rights and duties, the first being: public unity instead of divisions; the second: citizenship (with all its manifestations, rights and duties) instead of foreign ideological or political allegiance and third: reform and tolerance instead of sabotage and extremism. We have to maintain and strongly adhere to these rules and pass them to the next generation.

Bahrain cannot exist without a solid base of social unity, true citizenship, tolerance and harmony. Otherwise, the people will only reap division, foreign allegiance, terrorism and extremism.

Because we are talking about the reality and aspirations, the King has said: “We will always promote the values of moderation, tolerance and coexistence, both in words and deeds, as we confront extremism and fanaticism. We will also consolidate the values of political action based on the principles of the National Action Charter, the Constitution, respect for the rule of law and the sovereignty of national decisions”

Fifth: As was the case in previous addresses, the King’s last address included clear references to the importance of the ‘cumulative’ building on achievements. The last address expressed this by saying that Bahrain should move ahead equipped with the deep conviction and strong awareness “that building on past achievements is the way forward to consolidate the civil state built on justice and equality, without the exclusion of any one because of his origins, ideas or beliefs”.

What is of essence here is that irrespective of the size of achievement, it is part of a growing structure, an expanding ring or an ongoing process. What is being said here is that the people of Bahrain are accumulating their experience and achievements for the future. As long as the foundations are there, the structure will grow higher. It is not wise to destroy the existing structure and start again, and thus waste long decades of effort. If we do so we will only repeat the errors of nations which have “unwoven their firmly spun yarn into strands”.

Sixth: Indeed, as the King has pointed out “Security and Development go hand in hand”. No economic or political development can be achieved without a stable security. But the stability of security, in turn, cannot be properly achieved without a diverse and comprehensive development.

Security and development and the achievements of many countries are faced with an extraordinary threat and challenge. It is the challenge of terrorism, which threatens many of the peoples of the region, with respect to their identity, present and future. Hence it is necessary to confront terrorism through cooperation, the culture of tolerance, camaraderie, awareness, strengthened security, political reform, as well as other means.