09 Dec 2012

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses concern over the continued attacks on religious freedom represented in the re-demolishing of Shia mosques, which have been under construction since they were initially attacked and demolished during the government crack-down in 2011.

On December 1st, 2012, government bulldozers demolished four mosques for the second time; no notification was given to the people nor to the municipalities representative. These mosques belong to the Shia sect in the Hamad Town, and were under construction at the time. These four mosques are among the approximately 35 mosques that were demolished in 2011 during the intensive crackdown that followed the pro-democracy protests (for more details on demolished mosques in 2011 see: bahrainrights.org/en/node/4295 ). Although the government promised to rebuild the demolished mosques, following to the release of the BICI report in Nov 2011, it has not taken any concrete steps for the implementation of their plans. However, citizens have taken the initiative to start the construction process of these mosques in the same area where they were formerly located.

The four re-demolished mosques are:

1 Al-Imam AlSajad Mosque, located in Karzakan 2 Fadak AlZahra Mosque, located in Hamad Town R2, There has been formal communication between the municipality and the ministry of Islamic affairs that the land has been assigned to the mosque (2008/2010) 3 Abu Talib Mosque, located in Hamad Town R19, Had a building permit and formal authorization to put a temporary cabin on location (prior to April 2011) 4 Imam Hasan AlAskari Mosque, located in Hamad Town R22, On private land, had a construction permit, Had a formal authorization to put a temporary cabin on location (prior to April 2011)

A sign was placed next to the “AlSajad Mosque” (so photo on the top), which had the name of the Ministry of Justice and the Jaffari Waqf, and stated its intentions for a project to re-construct the mosque. However, the sign was ignored, and the government’s bulldozers took down the walls of the under-construction mosque.

The municipality’s representative, Ali AlJabal, confirmed that there were official communications from 2005 to 2010 regarding the allocation of the land to these mosques, as well as authorization to place temporary cabins on the land until the construction started. These communications were before the ‘state of national security’ and the government crackdown in 2011.

All mosques must have a building permit and a royal deed. In the event that some of these mosques cannot demonstrate that they have these documents, the government’s demolition of these religious places does not comply with Bahraini national law, which requires the issuance of a prior notice, and a judicial order for demolition.

On the 19th of November, 2012, the Deputy Minister of Justice announced that the some of the demolished mosques will be rebuilt in different locations, including a 200 year-old demolished mosque, the “Albarbagi” mosque.

In June 2011, a Bahraini court issued an order to stop the Jaffari Waqf (the governmental authority responsible for religious places of the Shia sect) from rebuilding 11 demolished mosques.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights believes that the act of re-demolishing these under-construction mosques is a violation of religious freedom, and a confirmation of the government’s lack of sincerity in regards to the implementation of the BICI recommendations. The BCHR also believes that this act is part of the systematic discrimination practiced by the government against the citizens from the Shia Sect. The US Department of State noted in its Religious Freedom Report that in newer developments, such as Hamad Town (where the above mentioned mosques were demolished), and which often have mixed Shia and Sunni populations, there tends to be a disproportionately larger number of Sunni mosques.

Based on the above information, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls for the Bahraini authorities to:

• Immediately stop the targeting of Shia mosques and places of worship. • Stop the systematic discrimination against the religious freedoms of the Shia community. • Hold accountable those involved in these human rights violations, and this infringement on the history of a sect of people in Bahrain. • Fully reconstruct the destroyed mosques and worship places and assume responsibility for all the damages and vandalism caused to these religious establishments.