12 – 18 Mar 2015


Parliament this week debated a broad range of issues and numerous measures were approved related to housing allowance, financial procedures and benefits for those on low incomes. However, the issue gaining most coverage was a proposal to investigate the ramifications of an incident which occurred during a school talent contest…


Quran inquiry


During a recent inter-school talent contest, there was widespread public outrage over a video distributed showing a contestant signing verses of the Quran to music – a practice widely considered to be un-Islamic. The Ministry of Education took measures against those involved. However, several parliamentarians called for a further inquiry into the circumstances of the incident. This was the subject of a debate in Parliament on 17 March. Unexpectedly, a few prominent Islamic figures spoke out against further action:


Abdulhalim Murad from the Salafist Al-Asalah Society said that the Education Ministry had taken “harsh measures” against those concerned: “We shouldn’t get carried away with this issue”. Shia cleric Majid al-Asfour added: “We appreciate the religious zeal of those who proposed this… However, inserting the Quranic text into poetry is a widespread practice, the only problem is the use of music”.


Several other MPs also expressed doubts about what a committee of investigation could hope to achieve. However, one of the principle advocates of the proposal, MP Jamal Buhassan said that the organizers were the ones who must be held accountable, adding that “the Ministry of Education has become a fertile pasture for insulting religion”. The Parliament Minister insisted that the latter comment be struck from the official record of the debate.


Deputy Head of Parliament Ali al-Aradi said that they should be mindful of the traumatic impact of the child concerned, but that the “origin of the problem” should be investigated. In response to this, Jamal Buhassan kissed Al-Aradi on the head!


In the event, a majority of MPs voted in favour of a parliamentary investigation committee to examine the “educational” ramifications of the incidents.


Resolving disputes over stalled construction projects


During the parliamentary debate over amended practices for the Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution, MP Ali al-Aradi noted that he had worked in this Chamber and the amendments were appropriate in allowing for accelerated and smooth resolution of disputes.


Adel Bin-Hamid stressed the negative impact on the economy and those affected by stalled construction projects, including those who have purchased property, investors, and Bahrainis having to put up with these eyesores. Bin-Hamid added that such mothballed projects were a major deterrent to future investors. Head of the Financial Committee Isa al-Kooheji pointed out the urgency of these measures, because the disputes concerned billions of dinars.


Increasing housing benefit


Parliamentarians voted in favour of a measure proposed by several MPs for increasing housing allowance for those on low incomes from 100 – 200BD per month. However, at least one MP, Adel al-Asoumi, criticized the proposal saying: “This is simply a way to play with people’s sentiments. This should have been negotiated as part of the Government Action Plan – if the proposal was serious”. Al-Asoumi said that the Government would simply reject the proposal.


Which MPs are active in the social media?


Citizens for Bahrain this week looked at the use of Twitter by all of Bahrain’s MPs. Here is what we found:


·        Around 31 out of 40 MPs have a Twitter account.


·        However, only 22 MPs are active on Twitter (9 other accounts only had limited use)

Around half of MPs are tweeting their activity on a nearly-daily basis. However, levels of public engagement are often rather low.

Citizens for Bahrain urges Bahrainis to be more active in following the work of their representatives through the social media; and in using this means to question them, hold them to account and to make your views heard.


MPs on Twitter 


Abdulhalim Murad:  @Murad_bh

Mohammed al-Ahmed:  @MohamedAlAhmed

Mohammed al-Ammadi:  @engammadi

Isa al-Kooheji:  @isaalkooheji

Abdullah Bin-Huwail:  @AAbinHowail

Khalid al-Shaer:  @alshaer_khalid

Mohsin al-Bakri:  @MohsinAlbakry

Abdulrahman Bumajid: @arbumjaid

Ali al-Aradi:  @alibhn5

Dhiyab al-Noaimi:  @Theyabalnoaimi

Jalal Kadhim al-Mahfoudh:  @JalalKadhim

Rua al-Haiki:  @Rouaalhayki

Ali al-Atish:  @Ali_ALAteesh

Ahmed Qarratah:  @Ahmed_Qarata

Mohammed al-Maarifi:  @Almarafi_BDF

Khalifa al-Ghanim:   @khalifaalghanem

Mohammed al-Jowder:  @m_h_aljowder_

Ali al-Muqla:  @AliMoqila

Ali Bufursan: @alialbufersen

Nabil al-Balooshi: @Na_albalooshi 

Ghazi Al Rahmah: @gfalrahma

Adel Bin-Hamid: @Adelbinhameed

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