Manama: A Bahraini MP has urged his fellow lawmakers to reconsider their decision not to endorse a bilateral agreement with Denmark on the grounds that it allowed a Danish cartoonist to insult Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him).
"We should not resort to wrong ways to take action against those who drew the offensive cartoons," Hamad Al Sulaiti, a member of the Shura Council, the upper chamber of the bicameral parliament, said. "The cartoons are an old issue and we still have those who adopt negative stances by resorting to boycotts or to crying over spilled milk," he said.
Defending the Prophet and Bahrain's interests cannot be through boycotts, he said.
"We need to launch serious initiatives and to open dialogue channels with others to explain our positions and present our arguments in order to convince them about the special significance that the Prophet has in our lives," he said. "Islam as a religion has invariably encouraged dialogue and talks in a good manner. God never told us to boycott people or to turn away from them," Al Sulaiti said.
Last week, Bahrain's lower chamber ignored clarifications from the finance ministry on the merit of a bilateral agreement on taxation with Denmark and rejected it.
Lawmakers, led by Adel Al Mouawda, from Salafi society Al Asala, argued that they could not support an accord with a country that allowed insults against Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
The veteran MP was referring to the controversy sparked by the publication of caricatures of Prophet Mohammad by a Danish daily in 2005.
"We would have rejected the agreement if there had been a negative stance towards our political leaders," Al Mouawda said. "The matter is much more serious when the target is the dearest person in our lives, our Prophet (PBUH), so we must reject the agreement, no matter how economically important it is. God and His Prophet hold the top positions in our hearts," he said.
MPs Abdul Halim Murad, Ali Shamtoot, Abdullah Bin Huwail and Ahmad Qarata also pressed for the non-endorsement of the agreement, insisting that Prophet Mohammad was a red line not to be crossed.
Bahrain has good diplomatic relations with Denmark and Gulf Air, its national carrier, has recently launched direct flights to Copenhagen in its first Scandinavian operation. Despite numerous international attempts to put the controversy about the controversial cartoons behind, resentment remains high among several Muslims.
Last month, a Norwegian court jailed three people for their roles in a terror plot against the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten that published 12 caricatures of Prophet Mohammad.