Bahrain king defends critical play

Bahrain's monarch has ordered the Gulf Arab state's government to drop a legal case against an opposition group for staging a play mocking the royal family.

    King Hamad Al Khalifa's action was praised by the opposition

    King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa issued a decree saying the political satire staged on Thursday by the leading Shia Muslim al-Wifaq Islamic Society, despite an official ban, was "within the spirit of the constitution", the dailies said.

       

    Information Minister Nabil Yaqub al-Hamer had vowed to take al-Wifaq to court over the "illegal" play, forcing the group to cancel a second show.

     

    Tension

       

    The show, which drew a 3000-strong crowd, was rare in the conservative Gulf region, especially in Bahrain which has a history of tension between its Sunni Muslim rulers and Shia majority.

     

    "For democracy to prevail in the kingdom, no one should be above judgment and criticism"

    Al-Wefaq Islamic Society,
    Bahrain

    One scene in the play mocked the appointed upper house of parliament, showing it wasting time with a long poem praising a royal figure who walks in with his wife in ceremonial Arab garb followed by a long escort of guards.

       

    Bahrain, a regional finance hub and the headquarters of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, has taken steps towards political reforms since King Hamad came to power in 1999. But the monarch still has near absolute powers and remains above criticism.

       

    Encouraged by the reforms, the opposition is now pushing for greater freedoms and democracy in the small island state.

       

    Al-Wifaq welcomed the king's decree. "For democracy to prevail in the kingdom, no one should be above judgment and criticism," it said in a statement.

    SOURCE: Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Take a tour through East and West Jerusalem to see the difference in quality of life for Israelis and Palestinians.

    Stories from the sex trade

    Stories from the sex trade

    Dutch sex workers, pimps and johns share their stories.

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    As the stigma associated with being childless persists, some elderly women in India risk it all to become mothers.