US Commission on International Religious Freedom: Continuous Abuses Against Shias in Bahrain

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SHAFAQNA – United States Commission on International Religious Freedom confirmed (Thursday, April 30, 2015) that Shi’a Muslims continued to be detained and arrested arbitrarily throughout the year, urging the US government to press on the Bahraini government to implement the BICI recommendations.

In its 2014 annual report, USCIRF concluded that “the Bahraini government has made demonstrable progress in rebuilding mosques and religious structures it destroyed during unrest in the spring of 2011.” USCIRF continues to encourage the Bahraini government to reimburse the Shi’a community for expending its own funds to rebuild six mosques and religious structures that were demolished.

The report highlighted that international community considered arresting Sheikh Ali Salman and forcing Sheikh Najati to leave the country as “arbitrary or religiously motivated” measures against them.

With respect to dismissal from work, the commission said that about 80-90 people did not return to their jobs after being dismissed in 2011, indicating that hundreds of employees were not re-employed in their same posts but returned to assume minor ones.

Furthermore, government media continued to use inflammatory, sectarian rhetoric. New media laws that would curb anti-Shi’a incitement, as recommended in the BICI report, have not been passed, stressing that “members of the Shi’a community still cannot serve in the military and police.”

The commission assured that there are a lot to do to implement BICI recommendations to address the past abuses against the Shi’a community and to improve the status of religious freedom in Bahrain.

USCIRF urges the United States government to “continue to press the Bahraini government to implement fully the BICI recommendations, including those related to freedom of religion and belief and accountability for abuses against the Shi’a community.”

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