“If you want to amend the nationality law, go to Parliament. ” This is what the government is telling these days to the six opposition societies which have launched an anti-political naturalization petition. Minister of Interior Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa said earlier this month that amendments to any law – just like in any democratic country – have to go through the proper channels that start with the Parliament.
The minister said, in a statement published on the Ministry’s official media centre website, that the opposition groups should refer the matter to lawmakers as they were the representatives of the public.
He said that the naturalization policy was the subject to evaluation by his Ministry according to the Kingdom’s needs and requirements.
He stressed that the naturalisation process had been organised under the law and the Ministry of Interior had said on various occasions that naturalisation was a legal process subject to certain conditions and was handled with complete transparency and objectivity.
The Minister said that Bahrain was one of first countries to correct the situation of stateless individuals by granting thousands with Bahraini passports. He highlighted that all those who had been naturalised were given the Bahraini citizenship according to the laws and regulations and international human rights agreements.
He also said that passports were only given for those fulfilling certain criteria such as completing 15 years of residence in the country for Arabs and 25 years for non-Arabs as well as good Arabic skills.
“Those applying for citizenship undergo many procedures such as personal interviews and reports about them are referred to the Royal Court for the final decision,” the minister explained.
The minister also affirmed that 7,012 persons were naturalised in the last five years.
Asians topped the list with 3,599 individuals being given the Bahraini passport, followed by 2,240 Arabs, 1,095 GCC citizens and 78 from various other countries. He also said that Bahrain was one of the first countries in the region to give its passport to stateless families and children of Bahraini mothers married to foreigners.
Since the political reforms initiated in 2002 by Bahrain’s
King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, opposition figures have been claiming that thousands had been naturalized to change the demography of the small Island, while the government has been dismissing such claims through official statements by the Ministry of Interior and the Central Informatics Organization.