Manama: King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa has emphasised the significance of promoting interfaith dialogue, tolerant understanding and peaceful co-existence.

Bolstering the values of tolerance and moderation to bolster welfare, consolidate security and boost stability to enable people to prosper should also be emphasised, King Hamad said as he received Rabbi Marc Schneier, the founder and head of the US Ethnic Understanding Foundation, an organisation advocating racial harmony.


"Islam is a tolerant and peace-loving religion which abhors all forms of violence and terror and advocates good advice, serene dialogue and respect of other faiths," King Hamad said, Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported.

The Bahraini monarch also pointed out the peace and amity prevailing in the country, saying that this lofty mindset was the basis for the relations between all citizens. "The Kingdom of Bahrain will remain an oasis of security, serenity and constructive co-existence between sects, religions, civilisations and cultures", he said.

Bahrain is home to a community of around 50 Jews, mainly from families that migrated from Iraq to Bahrain and thrived in the business sector.

The community was represented in the upper chamber of the bicameral parliament by Ebrahim Daoud Nonoo. In 2005, he was replaced by his niece, Houda Ezra Nonoo, a businesswoman who manages Gulf Computers Services and who had made history by becoming the first non-Muslim woman to head a human rights society and the first Jewish woman Member of Parliament in Bahrain.

Houda again made history in 2008 when she became the first Jewish ambassador from an Arab country appointed to the US.

The Jewish community in Bahrain is today represented by Nancy Khadhori in the 40-seat Shura Council (upper chamber)

The community began to settle in Bahrain in the early 1900s and most of its members were traders from Iraq, Iran and India looking for a peaceful place.

Despite the waves of anti-Israel protests since the creation of Israel in the Arab world, no Jewish business has ever been vandalised or destroyed and no shop sign was ever taken down or marred.

The Jewish cemetery in Manama, well kept for over 100 years, is next to the Christian cemetery, and across the street from the Shiite graveyard.