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Liberals celebrate first anniversary of 'union'

Bahrain's liberals, wary of the Islamists' growing political and social influence, will use the first anniversary of their 'union' to reassert themselves, a leading figure from the group has said.

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 00:00 August 1, 2006
  • Gulf News

Manama: Bahrain's liberals, wary of the Islamists' growing political and social influence, will use the first anniversary of their 'union' to reassert themselves, a leading figure from the group has said.

"We will hold a series of conferences and cultural and artistic events to mark the occasion and convey our feelings and opinions on a wide spectrum of issues," Ahmad Juma told Gulf News yesterday.

Under the banner 'We Have a Right', scores of liberals last November launched a political campaign "to protect personal freedoms in Bahrain and counter the threat to civil liberties posed by religious extremist parties that dominate the political space".

The liberals have complained that the space opened by reforms had been overwhelmingly filled by religious extremists from both sects.

"These extremists have sought to impose their agenda and deny other people political, social and individual rights," said Juma, president of Al Mithaq Society, a political formation with a massive presence at Bahrain's Upper House that has consistently opposed moves to introduce legislation to force gender segregation at the University of Bahrain and monitor individual rights.

"Respect for personal freedoms is a guarantee of social stability, an adequate business environment and employment opportunities. It is also a much-needed protection from fanaticism," Juma said. "We will use the anniversary to reaffirm these premises."

But 'We Have A Right' campaign has come under criticism from Left-leaning societies that accuse it of being too close to the government.

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