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Political Activists Highlight Bahrain’s Cultural Identity Forgery Crime

Political activists have highlighted the forgery of Bahrain’s cultural identity by the ruling Khalifa regime, which promotes a discriminatory and exclusionary social policy.

This came during a seminar organized by the Bahrain Forum for Human Rights entitled “The Reality of Cultural Rights in Bahrain” to emphasize the importance of cultural rights enshrined in international instruments and their role in fostering a constructive societal identity free from discrimination.

Bahraini researcher Abbas Al-Marshad, during the seminar, discussed the concept of culture and stressed that it encompasses the individual’s identity and customs. He pointed out that the ruling authorities do not recognize the culture of others, which leads to conflict, exclusion, and contempt. This, in turn, prompts the marginalized group to defend their culture. Cultural rights reflect the uniqueness and differentiation of a society.

Al-Marshad confirmed that the indigenous culture in Bahrain suffers from systematic marginalization by the dominant culture, reaching the level of occupation and neglect rather than being based on the principles of the state and citizenship. He referred to a conference held in December 1983 under the pretext of studying the history of Bahrain.

He explained that the fundamental objective of the conference was to fabricate a new history that aligns with the ruling regime’s interests, erasing any contradicting facts. This conference coincided with the 200th anniversary of the ruling family’s control over the country.

He stated that the mentioned conference aimed at cultural genocide, followed by the elimination of educational curricula that affirm the authenticity of Shia existence, their symbols, and scholars. Additionally, it involved cleansing media from anything that indicates the country’s authentic identity. Furthermore, it worked on eradicating the local dialect and denigrating it in TV series.

Al-Marshad also referred to petitions submitted to the British administration in November 1922, in which the population indicated cultural persecution, as their rights and resources were seized and enslaved. They were also forced to work during two religious occasions, Tasua and Ashura, and those who refused were subject to taxation.

He affirmed that the British administration supported the ruling regime in the 1930s to confiscate the Mahza Mosque, where Shia scholars emerged. It was targeted entirely, similar to what is happening to the Sa’sa’a Mosque today. He added that political activism historically relates to cultural persecution and the suppression of prevailing narratives.

He further explained that the seizure of Ja’afari endowments is part of a cultural war the current regime practices to erase the country’s cultural identity. It aims to interfere in funeral processions and preachers’ affairs and imposes strict control over them. This is part of controlling the culture and uniqueness of the population, as it aligns with the policy of non-recognition practised by the government.

He also mentioned that the official curriculum presents a provocative history for cultural groups, distorting their sectarian foundations. The official media follows a policy of undermining the country’s authentic culture in line with Western interests. This confirms the involvement of these major powers in supporting exclusionary governance policies.

He pointed out that presenting Bahrain as a multicultural country aims to erase its authentic societal identity and belittle its choices and convictions. This intersects with the political naturalization policy. The way to confront this is by stripping away recognition despite all exclusionary practices.

On the other hand, Bahraini critic Ali Al-Dairi stated that the people of Al-Muharraq Island have faced and continue to face multiple cultural challenges, as they have been subjected to cultural and linguistic persecution and marginalization. Despite their openness, tolerance, and cultural flexibility, they have experienced an apparent cultural estrangement and need recognition of their cultural authenticity.

Political activist Ali Al-Fayez affirmed that the reality of cultural rights exposes the biggest wound to the Bahraini people, which is the ruling authority’s attempts to strip them of their authentic culture, controlling their behaviour and principles.

Al-Fayez stated that the current conflict among the Bahraini people is related to the ruling family’s failure to integrate with them, as they occupied their land in 1783, imposing mockery, looting, and aggressive policies, while falsely claiming to have “opened” Bahrain and made it Arab-Islamic.

He added that recent statements from a platform reflect the cultural domination exercised by the government and the attempts to undermine the Shia presence, including the recent deletion of family names from official documents to fragment and alienate them.

He emphasized that alongside the political naturalization, the authorities worked on assimilating the society to change the dialect, customs, and traditions and to reduce religiousness. They also imposed teachings contradicting their beliefs and currently work on normalizing through educational curricula and creating alignment with Israel.

He stated that the government’s policies resemble what the Zionists do to liquidate authentic existence through naturalization, discrimination, impoverishment, spreading unemployment, and all forms of historical persecution. He stressed the necessity for the people to stand firm in their just demands for participation in governance to preserve their identity. If the authorities do not respond, an uprising becomes necessary; no matter the sacrifices, their existence and culture will fade away.

Yousef Rabie, a leader in the Al-Wefaq Society, stated that the authority deliberately obscures systematic intellectual and cultural persecution against Shia citizens. Additionally, it obliterates the historical identity of the Al-Khamis Mosque and turns it into a tourist attraction. The authority falsified its construction history, targeting the authentic Shia presence, a blatant violation of international conventions.

Rabie pointed out that the regime has worked on erasing the history of the Al-Mubarakia School and the Sa’sa’a Mosque, aiming to obscure the historical precedence of the Shia community.

He highlighted the deliberate incitement in the official curricula, which clearly targets and completely ignores the authentic culture. It even excommunicates Shia Muslims, undermines their beliefs, and questions their patriotism in a blatant violation of the constitution.

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