Al-Asfour: “We must perform our duty as the legislative body to cooperate with the executive to enhance the role of women and grant them full rights”.
Deputy Chairwoman of the Committee for Women and Children
Member of the Permanent Committee for Shari’ah and Legal Affairs
Member of Mumtalakat Investigation Committee (April 2015)
Fatimah al-Asfour won her seat in a strongly pro-opposition area on Bahrain’s northern coast, despite hardly establishing any public profile for herself. According to her candidacy publicity, she was campaigning on a predominantly pro-family agenda, which has translated into her senior role on the Women and Children Committee. Al-Asfour continues to be one of the less visible MPs, although she has come out in support of a few important initiatives. As one of only three women in Parliament, we hope she gains in confidence.
ACTIVITY DURING 2015-2016 PARLIAMENT SEASON
Good governance & public finance
During the 27 Oct open parliamentary debate on subsidy reform, Al-Asfour said: “The Government must look to alternative ways of addressing the Budget deficit. How were [meat subsidy] compensation levels arrived at and why do women receive a different amount from men?”
Policing & regional security
Terrorism: Al-Asfour on 7 Aug condemned the mosque attack in Abha Saudi Arabia, saying “the vile terrorist plots to hit Saudi Arabia will never succeed”. Al-Asfour on 29 Aug strongly condemned the Al-Karranah bombing which killed one policeman. She said that such crimes went against Bahrain’s tolerant heritage.
Yemen: Al-Asfour on 4 Sep extended her condolences over the deaths of 5 Bahraini soldiers and other GCC troops in Yemen.
Rights & freedoms
Women: Al-Asfour on 23 Aug praised the achievements of the Supreme Council for Women.
Democracy: Al-Asfour on 15 Sep praised the successes of Bahrain’s reform and democratization process.
Youth, culture & sport
Voluntary work: Al-Asfour on 20 Sep called for more efforts to establish a culture of voluntary work in order to address the many challenges facing Bahrain. She praised those working in this field at an award-giving event.
Parliament role & constituent engagement
Affiliation: According to several media sources on 13 October, around 13 MPs are moving to form a parliamentary bloc. These are Jalal al-Mahfoudh, Ghazi Al Rahmah, Nasir al-Qaseer, Abbas al-Madhi, Khalid al-Shaer, Adel Bin-Hamid, Majid al-Majid, Majid al-Asfour, Isa al-Kooheji, Jamila al-Sammak, Fatima al-Asfour and Ali al-Aradi, with Hamad al-Dossary indicated as being the head of the bloc, with “unanimous” agreement.
ACTIVITY DURING 2014-2015 PARLIAMENT SEASON
Housing, services & infrastructure
Roads: On 22 February, Al-Asfour was among five MPs (Ali al-Atish, Majid Milad, Abbas al-Madhi, Ghazi Al Rahmah) requesting that the Sehla road be linked directly to the main highway.
Housing: Al-Asfour sent a question to the Housing Minister on 2 March asking about progress on the “Northern Town” housing scheme. The Housing Minister on 1 May answered a question by Al-Asfour regarding numbers of housing units and progress made in the Northern Town project. The Minister said that there would be 16,500 housing units and set out the timetable for the various phases. During the 5 March parliamentary session the Housing Minister spoke further in response to Al-Asfour’s questions. Al-Asfour thanked the Minister, but observed that he had “ignored” her questions concerning the land area of the reclaimed sites.
Standards of living, health & education
Education: During the 24 March open parliamentary debate on Bahraini teachers Al-Asfour said that both the legislative and executive branches of government wanted to see prioritization go to recruiting Bahraini teachers over foreigners “and I hope in the future to see that all teachers are Bahraini”.
During the 12 May parliamentary session around 15 proposals previously submitted by MPs were approved in a series of votes. These included a secondary girls’ school serving villages along the Budaya road running alongside Al-Asfour’s constituency.
Living standards: On 8 April Al-Asfour praised the Prime Minister’s promise that living standards and the benefits awarded to citizens would not be compromised in the coming budget. Al-Asfour stressed the determination of MPs to defend such benefits and enhance them.
Good governance & public finance
National debt: On 27 March six MPs, including Al-Asfour, issued a statement voicing concerns at rumours that the parliamentary decision to limit the debt ceiling would result in cutting services like housing benefit, inflation support and support for pensioners. They noted that the Prime Minister had committed himself to increasing standards of living and the Government had committed itself to the pledges of the 2015-18 Action Plan. They noted that Parliament’s judgment on the National Debt was in line with the National Bank’s recommendations that borrowing shouldn’t exceed 60% of GDP.
According to Al-Watan on 14 May Al-Asfour was one of the 9 MPs who said that they would reject increasing the debt ceiling to 7bn BD.
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).Al-Asfour voted in favour of the interrogation.
Policing & regional security
Saudi mosque attack: Al-Asfour on 23 May issued a statement strongly condemning the attack by ISIS against a Shia mosque in Saudi Arabia, killing around 21 people.
Al-Asfour on 30 May condemned the terrorist attack against a second Shia mosque in Saudi Arabia. She said that the attack would not “weaken the unity of the Saudi nation”.
Rights & freedoms
Al-Asfour on Women’s Day (8 March) spoke about Parliament’s duty to promote women in society, saying: “We must perform our duty as the legislative body to cooperate with the executive to enhance the role of women and grant them their full rights”. She urged greater efforts to address the challenges facing women and to strengthen women’s role in society.
- Standards of living, health & education – 4
- Housing & services – 4
- Policing & regional security – 4
- Good governance & public finance – 4
- Economy & employment – 4
- Supporting constituents & youth – 4
- Rights & freedoms – 6
- Constructive Parliament role – 2
- Public visibility – 1
- Progressive/reformist credentials – 5
Results of 2014 elections – 1st Northern
Areas covered: Hilla, Meqsha, Karranah, Janusan, Barbar, Diraz
Housing blocks: 444, 450, 454, 456, 458, 460, 502, 504, 506, 508, 514, 518, 520, 522, 524, 526, 528, 530, 536
Registered voters: 10,749; Percentage 1st round voter turnout: 8.1%
First round vote:
Ali al-Dirazi (MP) – 189 (26.8%); Fatimah al-Asfour – 183 (26.0%); Hussain Habib – 164 (23.3%); Yassir Nassif – 68 (9.7%); Mohammed Rabea – 47; Jaffar al-Asfour – 33; Mohammed Shehab – 21
Second round vote:
Fatimah al-Asfour – 276 (51.1%)
Ali al-Dirazi (MP) – 264 (48.9%)
Profile of election campaign: Fatimah Abdulmahdi Yousif al-Asfour
After investing heavily in a confident and visible campaign, MP Ali al-Dirazi must have been surprised to have come out of the first round of elections only six votes ahead of a female candidate who had very little public exposure, Fatimah al-Asfour. More remarkable still, in the second round Fatimah capitalized on her strong showing and succeeded in coming first and removing Al-Dirazi from his seat.
Fatimah has been campaigning on a pro-family agenda, calling for better living standards for ordinary Bahraini families.Fatimah was one of two members of the prominent Shia Asfour family competing in this district.
As the only female candidate in this locality, many people will be pleased to see Fatimah performing so well. Although she has erected a few billboards along the Budaya highway, Fatimah a-Asfour’s campaign has done little to solicit coverage in the national media, so her policy positions and priorities have not been widely disseminated.
This district – which has lost some of its territory to the Capital Governorate – has been right at the centre of the post-2011 unrest. Therefore, widespread efforts by militants to enforce the boycott were inevitable.
Immediately prior to the elections, local Ayatollah, Isa Qassim spoke out in defence of the elections boycott. Diraz represents the epicenter of support for Al-Wefaq Islamic Society. These Shia villages have always taken their lead from their religious leadership and so for many the instruction to boycott was effectively a fatwa that had to be obeyed.
However, the appearance of candidates from the prominent Asfour and Dirazi families illustrates the fact that these communities are not entirely of one mind, with several influential figures questioning why the opposition is removing itself from the democratic and parliamentary process.
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