UN Seminar Honors Bahrain’s Religious Freedom Model

A seminar titled “Religious Pluralism and Tolerance: The Bahrain Model” was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, USA on Friday, March 4, 2016.

The seminar was kicked off in the presence of Undersecretary of State for International Affairs, Dr. Shaikh Abdullah bin Ahmed Al Khalifa. It was attended by a large crowd of American and world religious leaders who account for all religions on the international faiths list.

The Undersecretary of State for International Affairs explained in a statement at the symposium that religious pluralism is fundamentally rooted in the Kingdom of Bahrain — Christians, Jews and non-Muslims, in general, enjoy full respect and a high degree of attention and affection.

“Bahrain is unique in that it is the only country in the Gulf with a population made up of Muslims, Christians and Jews and when we look at historical facts, we note that the people of Bahrain have always been tolerant and insisting to foster teamwork to build a better future,” he noted.

Bahrain has paved the way for the creation of a diverse community with all its components living in peace and working together in an atmosphere of religious pluralism, characterized by tolerance, cooperation and interaction.

Member of the Shura Council, Ms. Nancy Khedouri, made it clear that freedom of religion is not a new concept in Bahrain, noting that Christians, Muslims, Jews and Hindus have been freely practicing their religions in mosques, churches and temples for many decades. She noted that the first Christian church in Bahrain was built by American missionaries in 1905, shortly after their arrival to Bahrain.

The Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York, Archbishop Bernardito Auza praised Bahrain’s religious positions, confirming that the Kingdom is a beacon of religious pluralism and tolerance in the region.

Additional participants in the seminar were Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Ms. Melissa Rogers, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, US Department of State Rabbi, David N. Saperstein, Member of US Congress, Leader of Religious Freedom Caucasus Rep, Juan Vargas and Goodwill Ambassador and Special Envoy on Peace and Development for the World Association of the United Nations, Reverend Art Wilson.

Each of the participants in the seminar hailed the Bahrain religious freedom model and paid tribute to His Majesty the King for his leading role in the protection individuals’ right to practice their religious beliefs, making of Bahrain an oasis of peaceful coexistence and human brotherhood.

The attendees stressed that Bahrain is a shining example of coexistence among different religions and sects which deserves to be emulated the world over.

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