Gulf | Bahrain

Bahrain Islamist societies press for closure of bars, discos

Four Islamist societies have urged the interior ministry not to delay the implementation of a decision to close bars and discos in one and two-star hotels.

  • By Habib Toumi, Bahrain Bureau Chief
  • Published: 13:19 April 22, 2009
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Gulf News Archive
  • Shaikha Mai Bint Mohamad Al Khalifa, the information and culture minister, ordered 43 one and two-star and unclassified hotels to stop selling alcohol and hiring female singers and dancers.

Manama: Four Islamist societies have urged the interior ministry not to delay the implementation of a decision to close bars and discos in one and two-star hotels.

“As we express our full support to the culture and information minister on her campaign to put an end to all immoral activities plaguing Bahrain and her orders to close discos and bars in one and two-star hotels, we urge the interior ministry to apply the decision without delays,'' the Islamic Menbar, Al Eslah, the Islamic Shura and the Islamic Association said on Wednesday.

“There must be zero-tolerance and zero-delay in the application of the decision. We are well aware that there is a strong campaign by some people to resist and eventually reverse the minister's decision. These people obviously do not care about Bahrain's reputation and will do everything to preserve their interests, even if it is at the expense of their country's name,'' the societies said in a joint statement.

Shaikha Mai Bint Mohamad Al Khalifa, the information and culture minister since September, last week ordered 43 one and two-star and unclassified hotels to stop selling alcohol and hiring female singers and dancers as part of a crackdown on “illicit activities.''

The ban, effective starting last Friday, is part of a drive to clean up the tourism sector in Bahrain, the minister said.

However, those who opposed the ban said that Shaikha Mai was playing into the hands of Islamists, mainly those in the parliament's lower house, who have been piling up pressure on the authorities to impose their agenda.

Their demands for a ban on alcohol and alleged prostitution rings were intensified after the publication of a report in an online magazine ranking Manama among the top ten vice cities in the world.

“The decision will affect the professional status of hundreds of Bahrainis working in the tourism sector and will result in heavy losses for those who have invested in hotels. Hoteliers should have been given at least a one-year warning and in all cases, the government will have to compensate them if it goes ahead with the decision,'' the association grouping the hoteliers said.

However, ban supporters are charging that the hoteliers were making “fallacious claims'' and that they were aware of the damage they were doing to their country and of the destruction of hundreds of families as a result of implication of some of their members in vice activities.

“In fact, we want the minister to extend the ban to all the other hotels in order to really clean up tourism,'' the four societies said.

“This will really stimulate family tourism and will certainly generate much more revenues for Bahrain.''

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