THANKS to its wise leadership, Bahrain has always followed a path of tolerance and believes in peaceful coexistence among all religions and sects.
Convening the ‘Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence’ under the patronage of His Majesty King Hamad, and with the participation of Pope Francis and Al Azhar Grand Imam Dr Ahmad Al Tayyeb is nothing but affirmation and an extension of a long history and a rich march of this.
Bahrain is known for its cultural, religious and social diversity and has, besides mosques, Hussainiyas, churches and temples, and it lives in a typical state of homogeneity, coexistence and harmony.
The UAE Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, participating in the forum, pointed out in his speech a fundamental and extremely important point, which is to find solutions to effectively deal with any differences between East and West based on common principles and values.
He stressed that these solutions must include the development of educational programmes and the media.
I agree with this wise and bold proposition, which we all miss in the Gulf and Arab countries because we are still not aware of the importance and impact of satellite channels and various means of communication on international and regional decisions. These are important means of transmitting beautiful realistic images of our societies and our religion to all countries.
Education programmes and their output require comprehensive development and serious work to raise the level of education among people, combat ignorance and get rid of its stereotyped images.
As a child, I always accompanied my father to attend the weddings and other occasions of people of other religions and this was reciprocated by both parties. I still continue this approach since human relations and mutual respect have nothing to do with religions and sects.
I have the best friends from the Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish and other religions inside and outside Bahrain.
But it’s a pity that despite this harmony, love, respect and coexistence with other religions, there are always dissonant voices that call on us to boycott and that this is not permissible according to Sharia, nor is it forbidden by our true religion, as they claim!
To these I say, remember the Almighty’s saying, “O people, we created you from a male and a female, and made you peoples and tribes so that you may know each other.”
This is the noble verse with which His Majesty concluded his speech when receiving the Pope at Sakhir Palace.