In his annual address to the people of Bahrain marking the last ten days of the Holy Month of Ramadan, King Hamed bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain covered recent unrest in Bahrain. The King explained why authorities were forced to act, while also detailing Bahrain's continuing path of reform, his vision for Bahrain to be a regional "pilot experience" in intra-faith relations and outlining steps that will be taken to address some specific issues that led to the recent unrest. In the address, predominately religious in tone and language in line with tradition, the King placed an emphasis on the special character of Bahrain society and the achievements of its citizens as well as the tolerant, compassionate nature of Islam, while also underlining that the rule of law was for the protection of society as a whole.
He asserted that those who "put themselves in a position of carrying the banner of the differences and strife, seeks to corrupt and work towards committing acts of violence, riots and terrorism" go against Islamic law which clearly forbids such acts.
Further the King asserted the primacy of the rule of law, explaining that it was there to protect society and the state, maintain security, stability and peace, and must not be broken.
King Hamed explained how the recent unrest, which he described as "tragic events," was not reflective of Bahrain and its people, that they were "contrary to the noble morals and genuine nature" of the people of Bahrain.
He warned that those guilty of incitement "did not foresee the ultimate consequences of their actions."
"We were watching these acts and we are taking the necessary legal action against the perpetrators."
Noting that several members of the network that have been arrested had previously received pardons from His Majesty, he said: "They took the pardons granted over previous illegal activities and abuses as evidence that they were above the law, and they continued to train themselves and others on all types of vandalism."
Recognizing that the groups involved represent a small minority in Bahrain, the King called on all Bahrainis to "stand in the way of anyone who wants the worse for our dear country, and its people's unity, safety, security and stability." Calling for unity, His Majesty expressed the hope "that everybody will be a defender to protect this nation from strife and evils and to stand solidly as one people in the face of violence and terrorism."
Outlining his commitment to the reform program started by His Majesty ten years previous, King Hamed said: "We will continue the process of construction and development, and the plans of reform, and strengthening the foundations of the rule of law, democracy, human rights and economic, social and cultural prosperity."
He went further by looking at how he might address the specific issues that have arose from the recent unrest, outlining three areas in particular:
-- Religious places of worship: Recognizing that several of Bahrain'smosques had been used to deliver false, malicious and inflammatorypropaganda and to directly incite violence, the King has requestedthat the Government authority for religious affairs ensures that allleaders of religious forums are qualified according to the values ofmoderation, good citizenship, scientific competence and renouncementof violence "as part of a comprehensive program to reform thereligious field" in Bahrain.
-- Civil society: King Hamed called on intellectuals, scientists, artistsand domestic NGOs to come together to address social issues withreligious dimensions, to enhance understanding among the young and "tobridge the gap between the Islamic sects and build bridges betweenIslamic culture and other cultures."
-- Education: His Majesty also raised the issue of education, called onthose in the community with experience and responsibility tocontribute to a new education system that bring together differentideas and is based on the principles of peace, love and recognition ofothers.
The King closed his speech with a rousing defense of his, his country's and his people's record:
"Bahrain has been able, with God's help and guidance, to build towering monument of achievements in economic, social, cultural and human rights sphere and build the rule of law.
"Such gains have been achieved due to the cooperation and solidarity of all citizens. And it will benefit all the future generations of Bahrain without any distinctions on the basis of family or tribal affiliations or religion."