Welcome message to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson
We welcome you to your post and hope that your tenure as Britain’s Foreign Secretary is fruitful and effective. It was interesting to see your recent comments on domestic affairs in Bahrain. We hope that this close interest will continue and for this reason we would like to take a few moments of your valuable time to give you a few further insights about our nation.
Like the United Kingdom, Bahrain is proud to be a monarchy which has decisively chosen the path of political reform and democratization, with a vigourous parliamentary life and healthy public debate about politics.
Bahrain is the state in the region which made most progress in separating religion from politics. Both chambers of Parliament recently voted in support of a bill banning clerics from membership of political societies and involvement in politics. We hope you will agree that this is a positive step in discouraging the exploitation of the pulpit for political gain and a good example to set in a region beset by extremism.
Bahrain’s Constitution furthermore prohibits political activity based on sectarian foundations. We would hope to see the dissolution of all societies which are established on sectarian grounds.
Partisan voices have unfairly claimed that no progress has been made in security and judicial reform arising from the recommendations of the 2011 Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. A number of important measures have been taken, with substantive British support for prison reform, the establishment of an independent Ombudsman and the creation of a human rights culture of greater transparency and accountability. However, such a cultural transformation is an ongoing process and we hope that you will renew Britain’s commitment to continued assistance and encouragement.
Segments of the opposition are still wedded to the prospect of revolution, long after this has proved to be a catastrophe in too many other states. Instead, we hope that you will join most Bahrainis in advocating a smooth process of continuous reform, which empowers the progressive segments of our society while excluding those with a retrogressive and sectarian agenda.
There is a tendency within the Western media for irrational attacks on GCC monarchies, without recognizing the progress these nations are making and the desire for reform; as well as ignoring the importance of these states as trading partners and regional allies in the struggle against extremism, terrorism and meddling by entities like Iran and Hezbollah. The new British permanent naval base in Bahrain is recognition that the UK-Bahrain alliance is itself a permanent one and that our long-term objectives are in close alignment.
Culturally, Bahrain is ahead of many of its neighbours in terms of women’s empowerment, religious freedoms and the rights of citizens. Citizens are blessed with free healthcare, education, essential services and housing. Economic reforms have done much to stimulate trade and investment links with the UK, making Bahrain consistently recognized as one of the most open economies in the world. Like Britain - as an island culture we are cosmopolitan, tolerant and outward-looking.
When you visit Bahrain you will find it a relaxed, liberal and welcoming nation which is currently celebrating 200 years of formal bilateral relations with the UK – You will find yourself a welcomed friend to our shores.
Citizens for Bahrain