THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO “HMMM…”: KING OF BAHRAIN ...

Ms. C.M. found this article, and it's a stunner, for more reasons than one. But first a bit of context: I've recently blogged about the Russo-Saudi summit between President Putin and King Salman, and the deals that came from it. This was preceded by a recent decision by the Saudi royals to allow women to drive, and I suggested that this might be heralding a long term domestic strategy of change in one of the world's most ignominious and repressive regimes. I offered the speculation that the old alliance between the Saudi royals and the Wahhabisst clergy might be slowly - very slowly -- breaking down. The hypocrisy has been rumored for a long time: overseas, the Saudi princes have been known to smoke a cigar or two and to enjoy a little fine Scotch or to attend a barbeque in Crawford, Texas. More interestingly, I also pointed out that one prince of the (out)House of Saud had called for a new kind of Westphalian peace, presumably to deal with the long-standing tensions within the Islamic civilization between the competing claims of the Suni and Shia versions of it.

It's in that context of Saudi princes brainstorming ideas about Westphalian peace that I find this article so interesting:

King Hamad calls for religious tolerance, peaceful coexistence

In particular, these statements caught my eye:

The king said the declaration was a natural extension of Bahrain’s national heritage.

“As Bahrainis, we drew from our national heritage as a beacon of religious tolerance in the Arab world during a time when religion has been too frequently used throughout the world as a divine sanction to spread hate and dissension.”

He said the declaration was drawn up “in consultation with Sunni and Shiite scholars, along with Christian clergy and Jewish rabbis, including our friend, Rabbi Marvin Hier of Los Angeles’ Simon Wiesenthal Center.”

He said the document “calls for pluralism, which ‘unequivocally rejects’ compelled religious observance, and condemns acts of violence, abuse and incitement in the name of religion. For national leaders like myself, the declaration makes it clear that ‘it is the responsibility of governments to respect and protect equally both religious minorities and majorities,’ and that there is no room for religious discrimination of any kind.”

...

“We welcome our Catholic, Orthodox and evangelical church communities. We are proud that our Hindu nationals can worship in a 200-year-old temple complete with their images, just around the corner from the Sikh temple and the mosques.

“We celebrate our small — but precious — Jewish community, who feel free to wear their yarmulke and worship in their own synagogue, which, we are informed, is the only one in the Arabian Peninsula. In fact, our Jewish community plays a very active role at the highest levels of society, including an ambassador from Bahrain to Washington in 2008, the first Jewish diplomat to the United States from an Arab country. We wanted to protect our religious pluralism for future generations, so we have enshrined this in law, which guarantees everyone the right to worship unhindered in safety and to build their houses of worship.

“Our noble ancestors began this Bahraini tradition of churches, synagogues and temples being built next to our mosques, so there is no ignorance about others’ religious rites or practices. We all live together in peaceful coexistence in the spirit of mutual respect and love, and we believe it is our duty to share this with the world,” the king wrote. — Al Arabiya English

Now, I've never been to Bahrain and have no idea if all this is true or not, but it would seem to be an "easily verifiable" statement. Perhaps it is a bit of propaganda as well. If so, then Bahrain isn't doing anything other than what most other countries in the world do: talk up the good, spin the bad.

But what really grabbed my attention was that this whole article, which specifically mentions Sunni, Shia, Roman Catholic, Orthodox Catholic, Protestant and Jewish clergy, as well as Sikhism and Hinduism, was carried by - draw a deep breath and take a healthy swig of coffee - the Saudi Gazette, an English-language newspaper/magazine/online service published in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Propaganda, to be sure, but if so, risky propaganda at that, for eventually, it is bound to percolate back into the kingdom, where it will be read by at least the Shia population in its eastern provinces.

And that might mean - in a sort of "barely hanging by a slim strand of a spider's thread - that this is presaging some long term plans for some real changes in the domestic policies of the kingdom. Everything else the Saudis have done lately is certainly pointing in the direction that Riyadh is doing some very long-term geopolitical thinking, and that surely includes some long-term reflection on domestic policy as well.

Granted, this is all over-the-top high octane speculation. Time will tell. But I suspect in fact that King Hamad might be being used as the front man to float a trial balloon, and if so, then the next few decades might bring some drastic changes to the region, because one thing seems clear: the Saudis do not intend to be left behind, or simply reactive to surrounding events.

See you on the flip side...

10 thoughts on “ THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO “HMMM…”: KING OF BAHRAIN ...”

  1. I live in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. There are quite a few different churches and temples of different faiths here. Some (it may be all but I have not checked) of the churches and temples are located on land donated by the sheik of Dubai. I know for certain there are Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, Hindu, Sikh, churches and temples in Dubai because I have seen them and visited some. This weekend I am in Al Ain, a large town in the Abu Dhabi emirate (Abu Dhabi is both a city and the name of the emirate). Yesterday evening we drove past a well lit and busy seeming Catholic Church.

  2. Hawkeye Lockhart

    For what it’s worth, I recall an interview years ago on al-Arabiya with Jermaine Jackson (brother of Michael et. al.) about his life in Bahrain and how enamored he was of the country and culture. It is an island nation with archaeologic fort ruins dating to 3000 b.c.e. Seems to have been a well-traveled locale thru the eons. Also home of the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix. No joke. Also home to USN / CENTCOM.

  3. I had a friend who was a cabin crew attendant for Qantas. He often did the run to London with a stopover in Bahrain. He told me that there was more hookers and bars in Bahrain than in most large cities. So, the rich arabs could tell there wives that they were taking a quick to Bahrain to check out a new Mosque, and whamo, let the fun times begin.

  4. Bahrain is evoking its historical origins as an Indian Ocean trading emporium. Hopefully now with fewer slaves…

  5. Robert Barricklow

    Nothing new under the Sun’s ionized skies.
    Full Spectrum Dominance includes religions, of course.
    Get ready the sing along w/the bouncing ball in harmony.

    1. Robert Barricklow

      …and that religion is the market place as a God that can do no wrong. So get rid of governments/religions and let the market place mindset control the masses.
      Now there’s an opium the masses can slave under;
      follow the yellow brick road under those golden arches.

  6. anakephalaiosis

    Playing football is setting aside social rules, and adapt rules in handling the ball. One doesn’t ask the opponent politely, if one can take the ball. That is the name of the game.

    Globalist banking world seeks to gamble on the outcome of the game, and tamper with the rules. That is not FAIR. Returning to nationalism is to start playing REAL football again.

    To hell with sneaky communism. Raw British football is better. More honest.

  7. If we are looking at decades for this to come about, I’m afraid it will be over for Europe, as the invasion from the south will have raped and bred the Europeans into a minority and the conquest will be complete. We will see how long that “tolerance” lasts then.

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