Murad: “We don’t accept this [subsidies] proposal and as the Council of Representatives we shouldn’t find out about decisions through the media. We represent the people and we don’t accept that any Bahraini be adversely affected”
Murad: In 2011 we were plotted against and we entered a psychological war… so how can we fight against God through usury? This money belongs to the public and has been put in profit-making banks against the will of the public”
Second Deputy Head of Parliament
Murad, as a long-standing MP who won his seat in 2014 with an overwhelming majority is a heavy-weight and respected political figure. However, as a member of Asalah, he has a record of supporting an Islamist agenda. The 10 February parliamentary walkout by Murad and a few other Islamist MPs (over allegations against an official in the General Secretariat who was also a member of Asalah) may indicate emerging tensions between Murad and the Parliament Chairman, Ahmed al-Mulla. Murad is an effective networker and communicator and has earned himself a strong support base.
In June 2015 Murad spoke out several times on the issues of subsidies and the Budget, stressing that citizens should not be adversely affected and calling for proper planning and effective oversight of proposed measures. Murad was one of a number of Islamic MPs who voted against the State Budget on 2 July 2015.
ACTIVITY DURING 2015-2016 PARLIAMENT SEASON
Housing, services & infrastructure
Property: Murad on 23 Aug held a meeting with senior figures in the field of property investment and highlighted the importance of legislation to simplify property and land deals in Bahrain.
Standards of living, health & education
Food prices: Murad on 8 Aug said that many restaurants and food outlets were selling their products at higher prices that those officially stipulated, due to lack of oversight.
Benefit payments: During their weekly meeting on 20 October MPs voted in favour of measures to enshrine counter-inflation payments into law and more clearly define who is entitled to them. Murad affirmed that these payments had become an integral part of people’s monthly budgets. Therefore legislation was needed to guarantee continuation of these payments and reassure the public of their continuation.
Economy & employment
Worker fees: During the 3 Nov parliamentary session, MPs voted to reduce the fees imposed on companies for employing foreign workers. The Information Minister claimed that such a proposal was illegal and should be modified. Murad responded that what was “allowed for the Government was prohibited for the Parliament”, particularly as the Govt itself had halted such fees in the past.
Good governance & public finance
Remittance fees: During the weekly parliamentary session on 20 Oct MPs discussed a proposal for imposing fees on remittance payments from Bahrain. Murad strongly supported the proposal but suggested that it be reviewed by the Financial Committee – MPs voted and agreed on Murad’s proposal.
Subsidies: During the parliamentary session on 21 Oct Muhsin al-Bakriargued against holdingan open parliamentary debate on subsidies the coming week, particularly as the Joint Subsidies Committee still hadn’t met to formally submit its final conclusions. Murad supported Al-Bakri’s comments, but abstained in the final vote.
During the 3 Nov parliamentary session, MPs voted to increase meat subsidy compensation to BD 10 to each Bahraini citizen. MPs also voted in support of compensating butchers and investigating the situation facing them. During the session Murad said that the Govt should take the initiative in measures which protected the dignity of the public. He called for the bill to stipulate payments for Bahrainis of all ages and clarify that the compensation was a temporary measure until the smart card proposal had been addressed.
Policing & regional security
Burma: Murad on 10 July called on Muslims around the world to aid Muslims in Burma.
Terrorism: Murad on 19 July called for regional solidarity with Saudi Arabia in its “war on terrorism”. Murad on 20 July called for the full force of terrorist legislation to be used against those found guilty of the recent attack in Eker which injured a policeman. Murad on 29 July condemned the killing of two policemen in Sitra and demanded that the representative of the Iran Embassy be summoned concerning Iran’s role. In a parallel statement he praised the role of the security forces and the Interior Ministry in protecting Bahrainis and noted that Iran was continuing its “provocative actions” against Bahrain.
Yemen: Murad on 4 Sep extended his condolences over the deaths of 5 Bahraini soldiers and other GCC troops in Yemen. Murad condemned Iran’s role in Yemen which he said threatened GCC security.
Saudi Arabia: Murad on 27 Sep praised Saudi Arabia’s efforts in organizing the Hajj and condemned those who were directing criticism.
MPs Jamal Dawoud, Abdulhalim Murad, Nabil al-Balooshi and Anas Buhindi were part of a delegation which visited the Saudi ambassador on 6 October and stressed “complete support and solidarity” for Saudi Arabia.
Defence: On 28 Sep Murad praised the role of the security forces in defending Bahrain.
Rights & freedoms
Marriage: Murad on 19 Aug stressed his support for mass wedding ceremonies and noted the need for raising awareness among young people about the institution of marriage.
Ramadan: Murad on 20 July thanked the Interior Ministry and Awqaf administration for the measures taken during Ramadan to guarantee security and ease the lives of Bahrainis.
Alcohol: The 27 Oct parliamentary session discussed a motion put forward by a number of MPs calling for a crackdown on alcohol sales on Reef Island (Submitted in March by MPs Abdulhalim Murad, Abdulrahman Bu-Ali, Jamal Dawoud, Muhsin al-Bakri and Ali al-Muqla).
Youth, culture & sport
Youth: Murad presented an award to on 16 July to a preacher for his work with young people.
Parliament role & constituent engagement
Social media: Al-Watan newspaper on 21 July reported that Murad was the MP with the most Twitter followers (32K); while Mohammed al-Ammadi was the most active user of Twitter (17K tweets), with the second largest number of followers (20K). Abdullah Bin-Huwail (5K followers) and Isa al-Kooheji (6K) also performed respectably, while many MPs were seen as having little social media presence.
Parliament accounts: During their weekly meeting on 20 October MPs approved their annual accounts for the previous year. Ahmed Qaratah argued that the BD 65,000 surplus demonstrated that Parliament was free of corruption. Jamal Buhassan countered that the accounts report had nothing to do with corruption and didn’t prove anything either way; Abdulrahman Bu-Ali agreed, adding that this was about finances not administration and Parliament shouldn’t be raking over the past. Abdulhalim Murad added that various allegations of corruption had been raised, but evidence was never submitted. He noted that the Administration never took any action without consulting the Financial Audit Bureau.
Private bills: During the 3 Nov parliamentary session, MPs reacted angrily to the Govt’s rejection of a number of private bills put forward by MPs. Murad criticized the rejection of the proposal to halt the “un-Islamic” profits made on retirement funds. He said “We must not fight against God. In 2011 we were plotted against and we entered a psychological war… so how can we fight against God through usury? This money belongs to the public and has been put in profit-making banks against the will of the public.”
ACTIVITY DURING 2014-2015 PARLIAMENT SEASON
Housing, services & infrastructure
Housing: Al-Murad on 23 February submitted a formal question to the Housing Ministry about whether housing loans were in agreement with Islamic principles.
Abandoned cars: Murad, along with Ali al-Muqla, Muhsin al-Bakri, Anas Buhindi and Mohammed al-Jowder on 21 April submitted a private bill proposing the removal of abandoned cars in residential areas.
Coastlines: On 24 May Murad proposed taking ownership of Bahraini’s coastlines for the benefit of the public.
Standards of living, health & education
Health fees: Murad (17 February) criticized the Health Minister for imposing fees which “failed to distinguish between Bahraini and non-Bahraini”.
Health: During a 15 June meeting with a Russian health official, Murad stressed the importance of benefitting from foreign skills and expertise in Bahraini hospitals.
Education: Murad on 5 March met the Education Ministry. They reportedly discussed provision of educational services in Murad’s constituency.
During the 24 March open parliamentary debate on Bahraini teachers Murad cited his own experience in 13 years working for the Ministry of Education. He said that “foreign teachers should not be employed when a Bahraini teacher exists”.
Meat subsidies: Regarding the Govt’s plan to halt meat subsidies and replace them with cash payments to Bahraini citizens; Murad on 20 May said that this meant going back on the promises made by the Finance Minister to Parliament for protecting the benefits due to citizens. Murad expressed his regret that the Government hadn’t “made the effort” to consult with Parliament about this issue. Murad said in a separate statement that he supported removing subsidies for foreigners but that support for Bahrainis shouldn’t be affected.
During the 26 May parliamentary discussion, a majority of MPs spoke out against the Govt’s plan for halting meat subsidies. Murad said: “This is a surprising step by the government. It created confusion, nuisance and anxiety among Bahrainis. Until we are convinced that redirecting subsidies wouldn’t harm citizens of all sectors, this decision will remain unaccepted.” He added: “We don’t accept this proposal and as the Council of Representatives we shouldn’t find out about decisions through the media. We represent the people and we don’t accept that any Bahraini be adversely affected. Why should someone from the middle classes be caused to suffer?”
During the 2 June open parliamentary debate on planned subsidy cuts, Murad questioned: “Has the excess been halted and the expenditure on unnecessary parties?… Many of the official delegations travel with armies and fly first class. Do we need this high number of consultants and many appointments are mere flattery”. Murad added: “Respect the intelligence of people and citizens. Citizens should not be treated this way. If you want to treat Bahraini citizens with respect, consult the Council of Representatives”.
On 3 June Murad issued a statement calling for a wider public debate about the subsidies issue.
Economy & employment
Street sellers: During the 3 March debate on modifications to the public health law, Murad called for the issue of street salesmen to be separated out and dealt with separately.
Unregistered workers: During the 3 March parliamentary debate on the so-called “free visa” system”, Murad said that there needed to be stiff deterrents to prevent those engaging in people trafficking.
Public sector employees: During the 19 May parliamentary session a proposed bill for making the public sector fully Bahraini within five years had to be withdrawn for further discussion after many objections from MPs. Murad commented that employing Bahrainis was one of the Govt’s top priorities. However, certain roles benefitted from foreign skills. He said that consideration must be given to developing skills and the proposal should be reviewed.
Pearl monitoring: During a stormy 10 March parliamentary debate over a bill for privatizing monitoring the quality of pearls and precious stones, Murad questioned whether this bill would force foreign companies to recruit Bahrainis to undertake the work.”
Economic & financial disputes: During the 17 parliamentary session to discuss the amended practices for the Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution, Murad criticized the proposals, saying that the measures had originally been “exceptionally, so they shouldn’t be made the core” of legislation”.
Good governance & public finance
Action Plan: Murad’s views on the Government Action Plan were widely reported by the media and he spoke positively about levels of Government cooperation in reaching consensus on the Plan. However, he said on 14 January that more detail was needed from ministers about specific proposals. Murad said: “The Plan in its current form is terrific, if it gets implemented. But where are the details of the projects and time limits for implementation?”
Audit report: During the 31 March parliamentary debate in which it was decided to delay further discussion on the Financial Audit Bureau report because key ministers had failed to attend; Murad noted that the Prime Minister had promised to force ministers to attend if summoned by MPs. He demanded the appearance of the Finance Minister.
Minister interrogation: During the 5 May parliamentary session an insufficient number of MPs voted in support of interrogating the Health Minister over issues raised in the Audit report (23 supported, below the 2/3 quota of 27 MPs). Murad abstained.
During the 14 April parliamentary debate concerning the annual Financial Audit Bureau report, Al-Ghanim praised the authorities for their seriousness in addressing violations and bringing culprits to justice and stressed the role of Parliament in monitoring the wastage of public funds.
Public debt: During the 10 March parliamentary session Murad, noted how the draft bill for imposing a ceiling on Government debt during the previous Parliament had already gone from the Parliament, to the Shura Council and back to the Parliament. He said that in 12 years the Government had failed to address debt levels, and this new bill would put the Government “to the test”, adding that it was a “national duty” to pass this bill.
On 25 March, Murad rejected rumours that services to citizens could be halted in the light of the parliamentary decision not to increase the debt ceiling. Murad stressed that these rumours hadn’t come from the Government and would be unacceptable based on the Prime Minister’s pledges. Murad warned that Parliament would not pass a budget which infringed on standards of living.
Upcoming generations fund: Parliament on 12 May approved the closing budget for the fund, as directed by the Finance Committee. Al-Ghanim stressed the need for making better use of the fund in the current economic conditions.
Budget: Murad on 19 June stressed the necessity of not reducing defence expenditure in the current Budget. However, he said that the provision of services to citizens was a basic right which shouldn’t be infringed. He called for increased benefits for pensioners and the disabled.
On 22 June Murad issues an extensive press statement giving his observations on the Budget. He criticized the lack of oversight mechanisms, and the lack of coordination for achieving a holistic vision on borrowing and expenditures.
Policing & regional security
Ex-Military restrictions: In the 24 February parliamentary vote preventing former army personnel from taking military jobs overseas, Murad stated that he could see both sides of the arguments on this issue, but noted the importance of the measures for enhancing national security.
Yemen: On 28 March Murad stated that GCC states could not have stood back from the Yemen crisis. He praised the intervention of Bahrain and other states.
During the 31 March parliamentary debate Murad thanked the Saudi King for his intervention in Yemen. Murad condemned Iran’s role and pledged to support military spending in the upcoming budget.
Iran: On 8 April Murad questioned whether Gulf states had been properly informed about what had been discussed in talks between the US, Russia and Iran. During the 23 June parliamentary session the Foreign Minister responded to questions from Murad about the Iran nuclear deal. The Minister denied that there were differences between GCC members and said that there were no secret parts of the deal between the P5+1 and Iran. Murad stressed the need for a unified GCC stance and non-dependence on the US for arms. He warned that the deal encouraged Iran to meddle further in Arab affairs.
Syria: On 9 April Murad stressed the urgency of international support for the Syrian people against the “killing operations and suppression practiced by the Syrian regime”.
Rights, freedoms & religion
Al-Wefaq: On 11 January Murad spoke out strongly in support of judicial measures against Al-Wefaq’s Ali Salman, saying that Salman’s “violations couldn’t go ignored”.
Exclusion: On 1 February Murad requested action to prevent the entry of Adnan Ibrahim into Bahrain, saying that those who “offended” Muslims and insulted those close to the Prophet shouldn’t be tolerated.
Asalah society on 18 March called on the Ministry of Works to prevent the Lebanese writer Jumana Haddad from entering Bahrain as part of the Spring of Culture events. Asalah threatened to “resort to all the available tools in the Council of Representatives to hold the responsible Minister to account. MP Muhsin al-Bakri issued a similar statement.
Bachelor housing: Murad stressed the need take action to separate the housing of expat bachelors from Bahraini families. He said that this had become the “most important issue on the Bahraini street”.
Quran: Regarding a video that went viral of a student singing verses from the Quran at a talent contest (5 March), Murad made the following comments: “Everyone responsible for this hideous act should be punished. It is a clear mockery of the Holy book”.
During the 17 March parliamentary debate about the proposal for setting up an inquiry committee over the reading of Quranic verses during a talent contest, Murad said that the Education Ministry had already taken “harsh measures” against those concerned. “We shouldn’t get carried away with this issue which concerns the heart of our beliefs… the issue shouldn’t be taken out of context”.
Mosque: Murad on 26 May proposed the establishment of a mosque and events centre in Al-Bahir.
Media: Murad was one of five MPs who proposed educational programmes on the TV for promoting family stability, the proposal was agreed by Parliament. (17 March)
Orphans: Murad on 11 April praised the King for pledging a portion of his Zakat taxes for orphans.
Defamation: Murad is reportedly suing Al-Wasat newspaper over an article which allegedly accused him of “importing terrorism and raising money for terrorist causes”. Murad told prosecutors that the newspaper’s aim was to defame him. The newspaper claimed that article was based on a picture and video already circulating online, allegedly showing Murad standing with a group of militants in Syria.
Human rights: Murad during the 16 June parliamentary session said that those Bahrainis who had undermined Bahrain at the Human Rights Council should be held accountable.
Parliament role & constituent engagement
Walkout: On 10 February Murad incited a walkout after the head of Parliament refused to discuss media allegations of corruption in the Parliament’s Secretariat General. During the session, Second-Deputy Murad demanded to speak, but the Chairman of the Parliament refused to allow him to discuss the matter, prompting Murad to stage a walkout.
The event seems to suggest a serious breakdown in the relationship between these two senior figures. That evening Murad published a picture on his social media account of him and other MPs (Ali al-Muqla, Ali Bufarsan, Mohammed al-Ahmed, Dhiyab al-Noaimi) meeting the previous head of the Parliament, Khalifa al-Dhahrani.
Al-Asalah subsequently condemned the sacking of deputy head of the Parliament General Secretariat, Mohammed al-Gharib, himself an Asalah member. The press reported that Al-Gharib faced accusations of corruption. However, the Secretariat General later stated that the termination of his position had been amicable
Private members’ bills: During the 7 April parliamentary session MPs voted to commit the Government to a time limit for implementing proposals submitted by MPs and agreed on by Parliament. Murad noted the “high number” of proposals that had been agreed on by the Government and not implemented. Murad estimated this to be 319 proposals. Murad challenged criticism by the Parliament Minister of the proposal, noting that the Minister himself had suffered along with everyone else as a result of the Government’s delay.
Public engagement: A meeting was held in Murad’s office with the National Pensioners Union on 13 April as part of a programme of parliamentarians’ meetings with segments of the Bahraini population for widening public engagement.
Urgent bills: During the 28 April parliamentary debate on the Finance Committee’s recommendation to reject 4 government bills marked urgent, Murad said that “the Government shouldn’t violate the powers of the Parliament”.
Youth, culture & sport
Youth: Murad on 17 May spoke of a number of joint Kuwaiti-Bahraini initiatives to “empower the energies of the youth”. These comments came during a meeting with a prominent Kuwaiti cleric.
- Standards of living, health & education – 5
- Housing & services – 3
- Policing & regional security – 6
- Good governance & public finance – 6
- Economy & employment – 6
- Supporting constituents & youth – 4
- Rights & freedoms – 2
- Constructive Parliament role – 5
- Public visibility – 6
- Progressive/reformist credentials – 2
Results of 2014 elections – 3rd Southern
Areas covered: North Riffa, Hajiat
Housing blocks: 922, 933, 934, 935, 937, 941
Registered voters: 7,227; Percentage 1st round voter turnout: 84.3%
Contest decided by outright win in the first round of voting.
First round votes:
Abdulhalim Murad (MP Asalah) – 2,964 (63.4%)
Mohammed al-Housani – 841 (14.4%); Naji al-Dossary – 630 (10.7%); Hassan al-Ali – 331 (5.7%); Abdullah al-Hajji – 303; Mohammed al-Maloud – 40
Profile of election campaign: Abdulhalim Abdulaziz Ahmed Murad – Asalah Incumbent
Abdulhalim Murad is a prominent local cleric and one of Al-Asalah’s best-known public faces. Murad has been in the Parliament since 2006. Murad’s campaign emphasized a strong record of raising issues in Parliament, challenging the Government on budgetary issues and defending local interests.
None of the five other candidates succeeded in building up a sufficient public profile to counter popular support for Murad, who dominated the media coverage, waged the most visible local campaign and strongly defended his record in office. His outright win with 63% of the vote gives Murad a huge local mandate and guarantees that he will continue to be one of the political heavyweights in the coming Parliament.
This constituency is in the central loyalist heartland of Al-Riffa. An older generation of voters can be expected to support establishment figures who espouse unwavering support for the Monarchy and Islamic values.
However, the 84% turnout shows the success of the candidates in engaging all the local demographics, including encouraging younger voters to come out in large numbers.
Know your deputy: Profiles of other Bahrain MPs
Adel al-Asoumi – 1st Capital
Ahmed Qaratah – 2nd Capital
Adel Bin-Hamid Abdulhussain – 3rd Capital
Deputy-Head of Parliamentary Human Rights Committee
Abdulrahman Bumjaid – 4th Capital
Nasser al-Qaseer – 5th Capital
Deputy Head of the Permanent Committee for Financial and Economic Matters
Ali al-Atish – 6th Capital
Osamah al-Khajah – 7th Capital
Shaikh Majid al-Asfour – 8th Capital
Mohammed Jaffar Milad – 9th Capital
Nabil al-Balooshi – 10th Capital
Ali Bufarsan – 1st Muharraq
Head of Committee for Youth and Sports
Ibrahim al-Hammadi – 2nd Muharraq
Jamal Buhassan – 3rd Muharraq
Isa al-Kooheji – 4th Muharraq
Head of the Permanent Committee for Financial and Economic Matters
Mohammed al-Jowder – 5th Muharraq
Abbas al-Madhi – 6th Muharraq
Ali al-Muqla – 7th Muharraq
Abdulrahman Bu-Ali – 8th Muharraq
Fatimah al-Asfour – 1st Northern
Deputy Head of the Committee for Women and Children
Jalal Kadhim al-Mahfoudh – 2nd Northern
Deputy Head of Committee for Youth and Sports
Hamad al-Dossary – 3rd Northern
Ghazi Al Rahmah – 4th Northern
Deputy Head of Permanent Committee for Public Utilities and Environment
Ali al-Aradi – 5th Northern
Deputy Head of Parliament
Rua al-Haiki – 6th Northern
Shaikh Majid al-Majid – 7th Northern
Head of the Permanent Committee for Shari’ah and Legal Matters
Dr. Isa Turki – 8th Northern
Abdulhamid Abdulhussain al-Najjar – 9th Northern
Deputy Head of Committee for Supporting the Palestinian People
Mohammed al-Ammadi – 10th Northern
Head of Committee for Supporting the Palestinian People
Jamal Dawoud – 11th Northern
Head of Permanent Committee for Public Utilities and Environment
Jamila al-Sammak – 12th Northern
Head of the Committee for Women and Children
Khalid al-Shaer – 1st Southern
Head of Parliamentary Human Rights Committee
Mohammed al-Ahmed – 2nd Southern
Abdulhalim Murad – 3rd Southern
Second Deputy Head of Parliament
Mohammed al-Maarifi – 4th Southern
Deputy Head of the Permanent Committee for Services
Khalifa al-Ghanim – 5th Southern
Anas Buhindi – 6th Southern
Deputy Head of the Permanent Committee for Shari’ah and Legal Matters
Abdullah Bin-Huwail – 7th Southern
Head of the Permanent Committee for Foreign, Defence and National Security Affairs
Dhiyab al-Noaimi – 8th Southern
Mohsin al-Bakri – 9th Southern
Ahmed al-Mulla – 10th Southern
Head of Parliament