Ashura in Bahrain: Intimidation, Security restrictions, and Media Marginalisation

Under the title *”Ashura in Bahrain: Intimidation, Security restrictions, and Media Marginalisation” three human rights organizations; Salam for Democracy and Human Rights, Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, and Gulf Institute for Democracy and Humanity, launched a joint report about the violations targeted Ashura commemorations in Bahrain during this year.

As with every year, the Ashura in Bahrain receives its a share of practices that restrict religious freedoms, by attacking aspects of the celebration and intimidating organisers and participants in its activities. The most prominent example in 2023 in Ashura during this year was the position of the Bahraini Minister of Interior, who set clear restrictions for the occasion. Bahrain has been a religious destination for Shi’a Muslims, particularly from neighbouring countries, every year during the Ashura. The Minister of Interior met with the head of the Jaafari Endowments on the second day of Ashura this year to confirm that the GoB does not welcome foreign arrivals to commemorate the occasion of Ashura, which completely contradicts Bahrain’s official position of religious plurality and tolerance, which was launched during the visit of the Pope of the Vatican and the Grand Mufti of Al-Azhar to Bahrain in November 2022, in which the GoB claimed that it is keen to uphold and respect religious freedoms.

In addition to the offcial position of the Minister of Interior, the Bahraini authorities arrested four citizens for several days; summoned Sheikh Mahmoud Hassan Ali Habib Al-Aali and Mr. Ali Muhanna and interrogated them because of their participation in Ashura activities. The authorities also attacked the Ashura manifestations in no less than 13 regions and carried out some acts of intimidation against the citizens participating in the events. In addition to restrictions on prisoners of conscience in prisons by confiscating the appropriate tools for reviving the occasion and not allowing them to hold Ashura councils, except with a limited number of detainees in each council.

Finally, several recommendations were made to protect human rights and promote tolerance and peaceful coexistence in Bahraini society to ensure respect for the religious rights of all citizens and residents.

Read the Report