Bahraini Jew to Make Debut in Advisory Council

Published September 27th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

A Bahraini Jew is set to be appointed for the first time to the Gulf Arab state's consultative council, along with five women including a Christian, newspapers reported on Wednesday. 

Dawood Ibrahim Nonoo, whose family immigrated from Iraq a century ago, is chairman of Bahrain Financing, a money exchange company. 

The businessman told the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat that Bahrain has 10 Jewish families, comprising 34 people. 

Newspapers said the 40-strong Majlis al-Shura council to be appointed by the prime minister, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, would be announced later Wednesday or on Thursday. 

Five women, including Alice Samaan, a Christian also of Iraqi origin, have been tipped for membership of the council, in a first for the conservative Gulf Arab monarchy. 

Several different Christian denominations, including Roman Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Copts, Maronites and Armenians, are allowed to practice in Bahraini churches, which mainly to cater for expatriates. 

Bahrain has a population of around 650,000, of whom 60 percent are Bahraini nationals. The number of Christians is estimated at 45,000. 

Neighboring Saudi Arabia strictly forbids the practice of any religion other than Islam in its territory. 

An official source in Manama said a Bahraini of Indian origin, businessman Mohammed Dadabhai, was also among the new members of the Shura council. His grandfather settled in the island state in 1935. 

The new members of the council, which was formed in 1992, will swear allegiance on September 30 in front of Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa, ahead of a first session scheduled for October 3. 

Last December, Sheikh Hamad announced that municipal elections would soon be held in Bahrain and women be given the vote. 

Bahrain's elected parliament was dissolved in 1975 for "obstructing" the government's work. The mainly Shiite opposition has campaigned for it to be restored, sparking unrest that cost at least 38 lives between 1994 and 1999 - MANAMA (AFP) 



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