Leading Bahraini cleric outlines opposition principles: justice, the national interest, national unity, and non-sectarianism


The sermon in Arabic can be heard on www.abayan.org. The full transcript in English below has been provided by Dr. Andrew J. Newman of the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies of the University of Edinburgh.

Friday prayer sermon of Sheikh Isa Qassim

Bahrain, 4 March 2011

With regard to dialogue, I want to talk about the approach to dialogue and will not talk now about the nature and substance of the talks. I wish to make clear that the dialogue should be between two parties with two different views – in this case a representative of the political system [which has already been identified as the Crown Prince], and on the other side, the people, who are in the process of selecting their representatives for dialogue. Dialogue requires the agreement of two opposite sides that have disagreement and are looking to reach an agreement. Therefore we see no value in requiring us to sit with some groups or parliamentarians who are in total agreement with the government. They do not represent a meaningful position at the table. We do not have any problems sitting at the table if the other side is officially mandated to speak on behalf of the political system, but we do not wish to sit with a third party. And our support will go to those who represent the legitimate demands of the people. The opposition delegation will not be representing a sect, a political party, an institution, or a group of parliamentarians; rather they will have the confidence of the people who are raising legitimate demands.

On the question of the possible redeployment of force by the authorities against demonstrators, I reaffirm that the use of force against peaceful demonstrators who express their views and raise legitimate demands will be condemned by all rational people, by human rights organizations and by the United Nations.

The criteria that govern our movement are the principles of the Sharia – justice, the national interest, national unity and non-sectarianism. We denounce all sectarian incitement, whether it comes from Shiites or Sunnis. And while we welcome the interest and support of the international media, we urge them not to colour our demands in terms of Shiites versus Sunnis.  I also call on all those inside the country to refrain from the use of sectarian discourse. I call on all students in schools and all those in society not to act in response to sectarian incitement. Those who will indulge in hatred because of sectarianism are committing crimes against future generations and against our nation, both at present and in the future. Those who want to damage our generation in such a way our committing a big crime against our society and against our country. [Chanting from the crowd: "No to sectarian conflicts!"]

The Pearl Roundabout is attracting people from everywhere and it is the center of activism. There are lots of positive aspects [about this gathering] but there are some negative ones as well, and I expect the enemies of this gathering are attempting to damage its reputation in many ways, including fabricating skirmishes amongst the attendants of the Roundabout. Those who get involved in such things are either infiltrators or ignorant. I also expect the enemies of the gathering to send immoral people to mix with the crowd in order to damage the honour and reputation of our people. I call on you to pay attention to these malicious attempts and to prevent damaging the reputation of the Pearl Roundabout. The people with their unity could safeguard the integrity of the protesters.

As for those who call for democracy worldwide, we understand that many countries now demand democracy. We also witnessed wars in the name of democracy. However we see some of these countries only offer verbal support when it comes to countries with friendly governments. In fact, we see some attempts to pressure the opposition to accept partial solutions, but these partial solutions will only bring back what we used to have, which was an absolute dictatorship. We suspect some of these calls have been driven by the interests of those countries.

The presence of remaining prisoners who had been sentenced unfairly on the basis of confessions extracted under torture is a confirmation from the political system that it continues on the wrong path. We now also see that they detained Mohammed al-Buflasa only because he expressed his views [at the Pearl Roundabout], and if anything this tells us that there is no freedom of expression, no transparency, and that the values of people are still not taken into consideration.

listen at:  http://www.albayan.org/

Related posts:

118/02/2012 Sheikh Isa Qassim Issues Call for Internal Unity and International Support


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