Manama: A lawmaker who last week torched the Israeli flag in parliament has narrowly survived possible punitive action by his peers.
A majority of 21 votes was required to take the punitive action against MP Osama Al Tamimi for smuggling in fuel and torching the flag without any warning, but only 15 lawmakers supported the call against him while 10 abstained from voting.
Six lawmakers opposed transferring his case to the legislation committee to look into the controversial case. Eight lawmakers were not present at the weekly session.
The vote outcome was criticised by Speaker Khalifa Al Dhahrani who charged that the parliament was on its way towards negative practices.
“The case should have been transferred to the legislation committee to review it,” he said. “It was not a critical decision to be taken against the lawmaker, but rather against his actions. It was not right not to allow the committee to look into the various aspects of the case and draft a report,” Al Dhahrani who has been the parliament’s speaker since 2002, said.
MP Ahmad Al Saati also condemned the refusal by the MPs to go ahead with action against Al Tamimi.
“The outcome deprives the parliament of a constitutional tool to ensure the highest standards of behaviour,” he said. “This is the third time that lawmakers cannot exercise their constitutional rights,” he said, referring to the refusal of MPs to start procedures to quiz two ministers.
The lawmakers should have given a strong signal that there are tools to be used whenever there is an abuse, he said.
Al Tamimi last week took out the Israeli flag and set it alight after he talked about the aggression on Gaza.
However, his move waded into controversy and was condemned by fellow lawmakers as “seeking media attention.”
Nine MPs filed for submitting his case to the legislation committee to decide on a course of action to ensure his action is not repeated.
Al Tamimi who was elected in by-elections in 2011 is no stranger to controversies.
Last year he threatened to hit a lawmakerwith the parliament booklet before he reportedly insulted a woman MPs during the session break. He was subsequently suspended for five sessions.