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Terrorism has no religion, says Bahraini King

(Wam) / 9 May 2013

His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain stressed that terrorism has no religion and has the same ugly face around the world.

Bahrain News Agency (BNA) quoted King Hamad as asserting, in a major interview with Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, his firm resolve to achieve his vision of an open society that respects the rights of all people living in Bahrain, whether citizens or not.

His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain “It is fine to disagree with the government and to want to change the law. There is only one way. It is not violence; it is dialogue. It is not intimidation; it is accommodation. Some small groups want to impose their will on everyone else by using violence. They have the advantage of being able to plan their sabotage anywhere”, he said.

King Hamad said that the whole world has condemned violence in Bahrain as it is condemned around the world, stressing that the number of rioters is decreasing tangibly.

He also stressed the vital role that the media plays in the development of a country and underscored the crucial importance of a free and ethical media, announcing plans to establish a council in Bahrain with members from all stakeholders of society, like NGOs, members of parliament, women’s organizations and religious groups.

“This council will set the policy for the media. This media governance structure was created in consultation with the French government based on world best practices”, he said, welcoming any journalists who want to learn about the truth and do her or his job based on the international ethical standards. In other words, come, see and talk to all the sides, not only one.

King Hamad said that no one in Bahrain is prosecuted for his opinions, asserting that freedom of opinion is everyone’s right.

He pointed out that people inciting others to take up arms, to affront the police, and to demonstrate in sensitive areas without a permit would be prosecuted because they are breaking the law.

King Hamad said that the ongoing National Dialogue sessions are engaging representatives of all parties of Bahraini society, saying that he is waiting with a lot of patience to hear their ideas.

He stressed the crucial importance of the National Consensus Dialogue, being the only right way for Bahrain and for anyone who says he or she has the interest of all Bahrainis in mind.

He confirmed the status of the Kingdom of Bahrain as a constitutional monarchy because all people are taking part in decision-making.

He said that democratic constitutional institutions are already in practice, such as the Parliament, local elected municipalities, the Constitutional Court and the National Audit Office.

He affirmed that Bahrain is not an absolute monarchy as the King has to be for all the people, similar to any democratic country [in which] a president is representing all the people of his nation.

“All of us have the rights of citizens, and citizens have the right to complain and to demand change. But none of us has the right to deny the rights of others. We stand on equal distance from all people as long as they demonstrate their love to Bahrain in practice”.

King Hamad said that Bahrain does not have an aristocracy, adding that all people are commoners. He said that the constitution which was promulgated in 2001 stipulates that the king has no rights but to accept the laws which have been sanctioned by the Parliament; nor does he have the right to dissolve the Parliament unless it is in consultation with the President of the elected chamber of the Parliament and the President of the Constitutional Court.

King Hamad described as untrue the reports issued by western organisations which allege that no change has been achieved in Bahrain after the issuance of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) Report, chaired by Professor Sharif Bassiouni.

“There had been reforms in various sectors, like police and the juridical system. This is an ongoing process”, he said. He pointed out that twenty constitutional articles had been amended, based on the consensus of the different parties during the first phase of the National Dialogue.

King Hamad stressed the strategic importance of the GCC, pointing out consultations between the GCC countries are in advanced stages to establish the union.

“The Gulf Union is an immediate need for our region and is fundamental to the fulfillment of our people’s aspirations”, he said.

HM the King described relations bonding Bahrain and the EU as good, calling for more cooperation in reforming the policing, health sector and the juridical.

He said that Bahrain has great respect for the U.S. because [it is] our biggest ally, and it is still doing more good to the development of the region, describing bilateral relations as so strong that any attempt to undermine solid ties would be doomed to failure.

King Hamad stressed the status of Bahraini women who participate in the Cabinet, the Parliament, business, politics, commerce and NGOs, adding that Bahrain is proud to have no illiteracy among women who make up more than 50 percent of the civil service staff.

The King said that The Middle East is now in dire need for peace, expressing the hope that a settlement would be reached soon on the basis of the two-state solution.

Regarding the Arab Spring, King Hamad said that people had many and different hopes of what the Arab Spring would bring for them but are now very disappointed.


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