The 2015 report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) made many interesting observations about progress made in addressing outstanding issues from the 2011 Bahrain unrest.

One of the most revealing sections of the report looks at the progress made in rebuilding mosques and religious structures damaged during the chaotic events in early 2011. Below, we will quote some of the most illuminating segments from this report:

“USCIRF has concluded that the Bahraini government has made demonstrable progress in rebuilding mosques and religious structures… In December 2014, a USCIRF staff member traveled to Manama; in addition to visiting almost all of the destroyed religious sites identified in the BICI report, he met with US Embassy personnel, civil society representatives, members of religious communities, human rights groups and human rights defenders.”

Progress in rebuilding religious structures

“The Bahraini government… made significant progress in rebuilding the destroyed structures over the past year. In early 2014, the government increased to approximately $8 million the amount to rebuild Shi’a mosques and religious structures, nearly twice what it pledged in 2012. It also moved the deadline from 2018 to the end of 2014 to complete the construction of the 30 destroyed structures identified in the BICI report.”

“As of December 2014, 14 mosques had been rebuilt, eight by the government and six by the Shi’a community, and 13 others were approximately 80-90 percent complete. The government helped secure legal permits for the six structures built by the Shi’a community.”

“Of the 27 completed or nearly complete, one mosque – the Mohamad Al Barbaghi mosque, which is religiously and historically significant to the Shi’a community – is nearly completed, but was rebuilt some 200 meters from its original site. The government says this was for security reasons, since the original mosque site is next to a major highway, but some members of the Shi’a community continue to insist that the mosque can only be built on the original location.”

Cultural background

“Bahrain is a diverse country and Bahraini citizens have a deep sense of their culture and history going back centuries… Compared to other countries in the region, Bahrain is among the most tolerant of non-Muslim religious minority communities. The government officially recognizes several Christian denominations, a tiny Jewish community, Hindus, and Sikhs, as well as a small Baha’i community.”

“Most Bahrainis acknowledge that their society has been historically tolerant of all faiths and religiously pluralistic to a degree that is notable in the region.”

Progress on dismissed workers issue

Around 4,600 public and private sector workers lost their jobs in 2011 as a consequence of the unrest:

“According to non-governmental interlocutors, only 80-90 cases remain unresolved. In a February 2014 BICI follow-up report, the Bahraini government stated that only 49 cases remain unresolved.”

“A March 2014 agreement between the Bahraini government and the International Labor Organization included a commitment to resolve all remaining cases.”

Compensation for victims of violence

“The government created the Civilian Settlement Office to compensate families of victims who were killed and individuals who were physically harmed in the 2011 unrest, as well as an Office of the Ombudsman in the Ministry of Interior to ensure compliance with standards of policing and to receive reports of misconduct.”

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