22nd Nov, 2013 –

The British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee has found that the British Government failed to explain to the general public the rationale behind its policy towards Bahrain.

Citizens for Bahrain would like to take this opportunity to assist the British Government by explaining to the British public why solidarity with the Bahraini people is absolutely the right option.

After more than a year of investigating events in Bahrain, the Foreign Affairs Committee didn’t recommend boycotting Bahrain, condemning Bahrain or putting diplomatic pressure on Bahrain. Instead, they said that Bahrain “remains a key partner” for Britain and that the UK must maintain a strong relationship with Bahrain. This may come as a surprise to many of those who have been following the generally negative coverage of Bahrain in the media over the past couple of years.

Those arriving in Bahrain for the first time often get something of a surprise. Bahrain is not the repressive, backward, hardline-Islamist stereotype that many expect from this part of the world.

In fact, Bahrain is by far the most liberal country in the region with highly progressive attitudes towards women and religious minorities. We also enjoy one of the most vibrant and diverse cultural scenes in this part of the world.

However, over the past three years a shadow has been cast over this liberal and tolerant model of Bahrain. Salafi and Shia hardliners have become increasingly vocal; a sectarian divide has split our communities; and our society has been destabilized through violence, rioting and terrorism.

Even for those people who joined the protests in early 2011 calling for reform and more rapid political change; the extremist and militant forces which overran this protest movement; and the chaos which engulfed Egypt and Libya have made it very clear to us that any kind of revolution would be a very dangerous and bloody thing for our nation.

In those few days in March 2011, when social order came very close to complete collapse, our leaders made mistakes in the way they handled an unexpected and unprecedented situation. They themselves have acknowledged that, and the independent investigation and significant reforms which followed showed that Bahrain’s Monarchy was capable of change and would not follow the futile path of Syria, Egypt and Yemen.

So Bahrain needs British solidarity in pursuing and consolidating this process of reform and renewal. The National Dialogue is stalling; reconciliation has hardly got started and important reforms still need to bring about the change in political culture they aspire to.

We are still not out of the crisis and the forces of extremism, sectarianism and militancy still threaten us. Bahrain’s tolerant and progressive cultural model needs to be protected and the King’s vision of Constitutional Monarchy needs to be consolidated.

We Bahrainis value the support of Britain and other Western democracies in assisting us to peacefully and smoothly emerge from the current crisis through dialogue and reconciliation. In this we look at Britain, with its own Monarchial system as both a model and a partner.

In the light of the Foreign Affairs Committee’s endorsement of Britain’s position we look to a continuation of our long and fruitful relationship.

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