Manama: King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa on Sunday ruled out violence as a way to meet demands and stressed the significance of dialogue.

“We have always emphasised that demands should not be made through violence but rather through dialogue and national consensus as had happened in the past between the various segments of our community,” King Hamad said at the opening of the new parliament term.

“No group can impose its views on the others. We hope that your honourable assembly will consider enacting the required legal texts that criminalize anything that attempts to erode the unity of our nation and the security of our community,” he said in his address.

Bahrain has been rocked for months by riots and clashes between young people hurling Molotov cocktails and anti-riot police.

Traffic has often been brought to a standstill by rioters who set tyres ablaze to bloc highways and roads and hundreds of injuries have been reported.

King Hamad said that democracy was exploited to make demands through violence and terrorism, but stressed that it was the duty of the state to protect citizens and residents living in the country.

“We express the pain and anguish felt by our peaceful people and their suffering from a misled category of people who have attempted to distort Bahrain’s image abroad and to enlist support from those who are not concerned in order to interfere in our domestic affairs,” he said.

“We stress our resolute rejection of any foreign interference in our domestic affairs. We also reject the dangerous escalation by that group of people on our streets and the acts of violence and terrorism against public and private properties and residents. It is our duty to protect them from any form of violence in this beloved country,” he said.

Several initiatives have been launched to bridge the gap between the positions of the various groups and deny a radicalization that could compound the situation.

The justice minister has been talking with delegations from all political parties to try to reach an accord for dialogue.

“We commend the meetings being held by the honorable Government with political societies in the country and we emphasize that the door for dialogue is open to everybody in a manner that seeks to achieve full harmony within our community and to unify efforts to build on Bahrain’s achievements,” King Hamad said.

The king whose country will host in December the next summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the only active pan-Arab alliance since its establishment in 1981, said that he looked forward to greater unity between the member countries that would help them move forward despite formidable challenges.

“In an age characterised by crises and fast-paced and successive transformations, be they political or economic, with impacts and repercussions across the whole world, our Gulf region has faced throughout the past three decades numerous challenges,” he said.

“We have confronted them with determination through unified positions reflected in the pioneering role of the Gulf Cooperation Council and we seek with the help of God to strengthen the unity between its member states. In this regard, we would like to welcome the upcoming 33rd GCC Summit to be convened in the Kingdom of Bahrain. We look forward to meeting our brothers, their majesties and highnesses the leaders of the GCC countries in their second home, Bahrain,” he said.