Advertisement

City of Brass

City of Brass

Better to be Jewish in Bahrain than Shi’a

Bahrain is aggressively courting it’s tiny remnant of a Jewish community:

In the tense landscape of the Middle East, there is little room left for Jewish Arabs, a tiny minority in this country as well as in places like Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. But in Bahrain, the king, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, has taken unprecedented steps for an Arab leader to show his support for his dwindling Jewish population. Last year, he appointed a Jewish woman, Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo, as ambassador to the United States, the first Jewish ambassador posted abroad by any Arab country.

Then he made a personal visit to London to appeal to expatriate Jews to return to Bahrain. He has also appointed Jewish business leaders to the Shura Council, which acts as an upper house of Parliament. Those measures went against the tide in a region where anti-Semitism is often preached from government-controlled mosques and hating all Jews has become interchangeable with hating the state of Israel.

Advertisement

Any news of this sort if welcome, though in this case the community is miniscule – 36 people at last count. Also, as the article points out, this magnanimity is not entirely selfless – the proximity of Iran and the fact that the US bases its Fifth Fleet in Bahrain certainly played some role. The kicker though is that while the Jewish community is feted, the Shi’a community (which is actually a majority in the tiny country) gets short shrift:

Bahrain is hot with sectarian tensions: the king, a Sunni Muslim, is accused of discriminating against Shiite Muslims, who make up a majority of the native population. Shiites are barred from almost all positions in the military and security services, and they say they are not given the same employment and education opportunities as their Sunni neighbors.

Advertisement

Shiites complain that the 36 Jews are treated better than they are, and that the king’s Jewish outreach is intended to make Bahrain appear to be a tolerant society, papering over the systemic discrimination they say they experience.

“Because there is some religious tolerance in Bahrain, the king’s plan is to undermine the Shiite identity, not increase freedom,” said Habib Muhammad, 25, owner of a welding workshop in the Shiite village of Malikiya. “He wants to divert people’s attention from demanding their rights.”

It’s sad but true that sectarian hatred against the Shi’a is endemic across the muslim world. In many ways, Shi’a really are the “Jews of Islam”. In Bahrain, this prejudice manifests in rather mild fashion, relative to elsewhere – for example, the suicide attack yesterday in a Shi’a mosque in Pakistan killing 20 worshippers.

Related – Rabbi Brad has some additional commentary on the Bahraini Jews‘ fortunes. Even if they are just pawns in a sectarian game, it’s still progress, however.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Samir S. Halabi

    I only wish that my family would have been Bahraini citizens instead of originating from another middle-eastern country where my parents fled for their lives from the persecution and murder which was meted out as retribution after the arab defeat by the fledgling Jewish State of israel in 1948 known as the Israeli war of independence.

Previous Posts

Ramadan Pearls 05 - objective
As for the men of knowledge of the hereafter, what they mean by the correctness of fasting is its acceptability; and the acceptability of the fast is whether or not it has enabled one to reach one's objective. They understand the objective of ...

posted 7:26:32am Jul. 05, 2015 | read full post »

The Fourth and the First
This evening, just prior to sunrise, members of my mosque in Los Angeles gathered round to raise the flag of the United States of America. Due to fortuitous timing, just as the flag was unfurled, a squadron of planes flew overhead in formation, ...

posted 12:38:00am Jul. 05, 2015 | read full post »

Ramadan Pearls 04 - angels
He who has fasted for Allah, the Glorious and Mighty, and is in the discomfort of heat and struck by thirst, will have his face wiped and be given the good news by a thousand angels whom Allah has entrusted to him until he breaks his fast; at ...

posted 8:16:29am Jul. 03, 2015 | read full post »

ibadat in Ramadan - process as piety
There are a lot of articles written during Ramadan about what Ramadan means, about what we as Muslims should be "getting out" of Ramadan, what the benefits of Ramadan should be. But I think that these sorts of articles miss the point of ibadat. ...

posted 10:20:36am Jul. 02, 2015 | read full post »

Ramadan Pearls 03 - mystery
Know that the goal in fasting is for the veil of appetite and anger to be lifted from the heart's eye so that the heart may see the mystery of the dominion of heaven and earth. (The Easy Roads of Sayf al-Din, as translated by William Chittick ...

posted 8:57:01am Jul. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.