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Bahrain parliament pushes for tougher laws

Measures include stripping citizenship, banning rallies in capital

Image Credit: AFP
Bahraini MP’s and Shura council members attend an extraordinary special meeting of the Bahraini Shura Council and House of Representatives in Manama, on July 28, 2013. Several members of parliament, which doesn’t include opposition groups, called for harsher methods against protesters, including stripping citizenship, establishing curfews, instituting martial law, employing the death penalty and banning all protests. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH
Gulf News

Manama: Bahrain’s parliament on Sunday recommended stripping the Bahraini citizenship on national security grounds and called for a ban on rallies in the capital Manama to halt the mounting acts of violence and business disruption.

In an unprecedented session of the bicameral parliament, the lawmakers from the lower chamber and the members of the upper chamber jointly called for stiffening laws against those who incite or perpetrate acts of terror or commit crimes of violence and terror in any form.

Rallies and demonstrations must not be allowed in Manama, they said at the extraordinary session.

Both chambers are currently in their summer recess, but following requests by some MPs, the parliament held the extraordinary session following the approval of King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa as required by the constitution.

“All measures to impose security and social peace should be taken in cases of law violations or when the security of the people and private and public interests are targeted, including declaring the national safety law,” the parliament said in a statement at the end of a lengthy session.

The national safety law, short of martial laws, was imposed in March 2011 following weeks of unrest that threatened to descend into chaos, mainly after protesters moved out of their epicenter of demonstrations at the Roundabout, to occupy central Manama, bringing the capital to a standstill. The national safety law was lifted in June.

The MPs who pushed for the extraordinary session said that the tougher laws were needed to avert ominous chaos and acts of terror.

A car blast on July 18 at the parking lot of Shaikh Eisa Bin Salman Mosque in the Seat of Rule city of Riffa as worshippers were performing the Isha (evening) and Taraweeh was promptly condemned by the country’s leaders and major political figures and societies. The interior ministry said that gas cylinders were used in the explosion.

Several lawmakers said that they would press for tougher laws to end acts of violence and restore calm in the country.

On Sunday, the parliament said that the 2006 law to protect society from acts of terror should be amended to address loopholes being exploited to incite and support terrorism.

Security agencies should be given the appropriate and necessary prerogatives to protect society, the parliament said.

It added that ambassadors and diplomats should be requested not to interfere in the domestic affairs of Bahrain in line with the international law and traditions.

According to the parliament, public speeches should be moderate and should aim to preserve social cohesion while legal action should be taken against those who use social networks illegally or to convey false information to foreign entities that harbour negative feelings towards Bahrain.

The education policies and curricula should be reviewed in order to protect society from the use of violence and acts of terror while the media spotlight should be placed on the risks and threats of terrorism on the stability and economy of the nation, the statement added.

Efforts by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa to promote the national dialogue as the ideal way forward to resolve problems while maintaining national unity should be supported.

A national dialogue was launched in February to help heal a deep wound that has sharply divided the Bahraini society, often alongside sectarian faults. Although the 27 participants representing the parliament, the opposition, a political alliance and the government have met 25 times, they have yet to agree on a framework and on an agenda for the talks to address political issues.

In its statement, the parliament said that basic freedoms should not be affected in any way, but emphasized that a comprehensive security strategy should be drawn up to help deal with all developments and support service people.

Special programs should be prepared to rehabilitate young men and women who had been exploited in different crimes, they said.