Bahrain Advocates Radical Laws to Tackle Terror

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Small size, low local populations and enormous oil resources prompted the Arab Gulf states to come together under the umbrella organization called Gulf Cooperation Council some 40 years ago. The same considerations have now prompted them to propose the creation of a unified strategy to tackle regional extremism and violence. Bahrain has taken the lead in this proposal put out by Arab League Human Rights Committee.

A workshop was organized last week by Bahrain’s Parliament in coordination with the Bahrain Institute for Political Development. The aim was to define the role of regional countries’ legislative authorities to confront terror, especially in terms of tackling the radicalization of youth. Among the participating countries were the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan Sudan, Morocco and Palestine.

At the event there were calls to take additional steps to protect homes and schools from terrorist attacks. Bahrain, over the years, has witnessed a very large number of arson incidents involving schools.

Participants in the workshop were batting for alternative, unconventional strategies to confront the menace. “The security and military measures taken are not enough,” the Arab League committee chairman Dr Amjad Shamoot was quoted by the local daily GDN as saying. “They are not that beneficial,” he claimed, adding that parents at home and the teachers in schools needed to work with children differently.

parents and teachers need to work with children differently

In other words, while violence and terror had to be confronted through security measures, there is a need to nip the issue of radicalization of impressionable youth and their falling into the wrong company and becoming misguided. This could be done by closely watching their upbringing, behaviour, reading habits and the way they spend their spare time by parents, teachers and peer groups.

arab human rights charter.
Arab Human Rights Charter.

In fact Dr Shamoot cited the example of Saudi Arabia where those convicted of terrorist acts have been rehabilitated by the government. The government helps them to start a new life with a clean slate and a new, positive ideology and mindset, so they can contribute positively to society.

Bahrain Parliament’s first vice-chairman Ali Al Aradi proposed a pan-Arab strategy to tackle the issue through a “non-conventional methodology.” This is a collective effort to draw up new legislation to accommodate concerns and suggestions. He suggested this should be through partnership with the international community with the idea not only to scrub violence and terror but also to contain the dissemination of unethical beliefs.

The message of the workshop was clear. The tentacles of the terror networks are quite widespread and security machinery and all that it entails can no longer be relied upon to handle it all by themselves. Harmful ideologies also need to be countered by subtle means which go beyond confronting violence with retaliation.

Bahrain’s Information Minister Ali Al Rumaihi summed it up best, as quoted in the GDN: “Terrorism can’t only be met with security measures. It needs a collective stance from all those in power – whether legislative, executive, judicial, society, education or media – in coordination with the international community to cut all financial and ideological support for terrorism.”

Bahrain should know. It has lost 19 security men as a result of terrorist acts which also left 4,000 injured.

Brij Sharma is an Indian journalist and editor based in Bahrain. Brij tells us the interesting stories we don’t usually hear from the middle east country.