SALAM DHR launches its report: “The Shrine Of Saasa Bin Sohan In Bahrain Between Deliberate Vandalism And Public Neglect.”

London / Beirut

This report, issued by SALAM DHR, documents the role of the authorities in Bahrain in erasing the heritage and authenticity of the Shiite citizens in the country. This report mentions as an example the shrine of Sasaa bin Sohan, which is considered the oldest Islamic monument in Bahrain, and how it is constantly vandalized and destroyed. This is due to the official authorities who did not take the necessary measures to protect this religious heritage. The report highlights the significant challenges facing Shiite citizens with regard to preserving their cultural and religious heritage.

The shrine of Saasa bin Sohan Al-Abdi, the great companion of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (cousin of the Prophet Mohamed) located in the village of Askar, south of the capital, Manama; and its history extends for more than one thousand and three hundred years. However, it is subject to repeated targeting and increasing destruction, which threatens to erase one of the most important heritage and originality of the Bahraini Shiites under the eyes of the concerned authorities.

Cultural heritage is of great value to any society, and the government must be committed to protecting and preserving it. It is necessary for the official authorities in Bahrain to take urgent measures to stop this vandalism and to secure the shrine from the resulting damages. In addition, the Bahraini authorities must abide by international agreements and domestic laws that protect peoples’ cultural and religious rights. Freedom of worship and rituals should be guaranteed to all, regardless of their religious affiliation.

Syed Abbas Shibir, Religious Freedom Officer at SALAM DHR, said: “The report that is now being presented reveals the legal framework and international agreements that Bahrain is bound by, including the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage to which Bahrain is a party. In light of this, we urge the government of Bahrain to take urgent measures to stop the continued vandalism and to secure the shrine of Saasa bin Sohan from any possible damage.”

He added: “Protecting and preserving cultural and religious heritage is considered an expression of the government’s commitment to the cultural and religious rights of peoples. Everyone should have the freedom to worship and perform rituals freely and peacefully, regardless of their religious affiliation. We stress the need for the Bahraini authorities to abide by the constitution and local laws; and work to stop this vandalism and protect the shrine of Saasa bin Sohan as well as the heritage of the Bahraini Shiites.”

Furthermore, the official for religious freedoms at SALAM DHR called on the Bahraini government to respond to the recommendations presented in the report and take the necessary measures to preserve this important cultural heritage and guarantee freedom of religious practice for all. He also stressed the need to raise awareness and community education about the importance of preserving cultural heritage and promoting the values of tolerance and peaceful coexistence among all members of society.

The report by SALAM DHR discusses the legal framework, and refers to the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, to which the Kingdom of Bahrain is a party pursuant to Decree No. 3 of 1991. The report also reviews the violations to which the Saasa bin Sohan shrine was subjected during the past years. At the end of the report, SALAM DHR urged the Government of Bahrain to take several recommendations.

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For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact the chairman of the organization, Mr. Jawad Fairouz, on: +44 744 992 6577 (in Arabic and English)