We condemn Obamas remarks on Bahrain

Not only must the leaders of this beautiful country, but all of us here, must strongly condemn Barack Obama’s words spoken two days ago.

In his speech at the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the US President equated Bahrain’s situation with that of Iraq and Syria which I think is simply preposterous.

He had said “the hard work of forging freedom and democracy” included “efforts to resolve sectarian tensions that continue to surface in places like Iraq, Bahrain and Syria”.

Is not this comparison downright ridiculous? How can he put two large countries, Iraq and Syria, where large scale violence, bomb blasts, and massive killings are taking place almost every day, with this small, beautiful and peaceful Bahrain grouping them together as same?

According to Iraq body count website, some 125,175 civilian deaths have occurred in Iraq since 2003, and over 100,000 people are killed in the conflict in Syria since 2011. The strife is on-going in those places there.

But which sectarian tension is he talking about in Bahrain? How can he, or his advisers, not know that Bahrain has always been an example – to even other Arab countries – of peaceful coexistence of people with different beliefs?

That is why I was glad to read about Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa’s quick questioning of President Obama’s comparison.

“The climate in the country (Bahrain) today bears no equivalence to the sectarian conflicts occurring in Syria and Iraq,” the Minister said. And very rightly so.

I particularly liked the statement of the US Ambassador to USA, Houda Nonoo on the official blog of Bahrain’s Ambassador to the United States.

She said she is “disappointed to hear him (Obama) compare the situation in Bahrain to that of the current situation in Iraq and the unfolding tragedies in Syria”.

Referring to the fact that she is a Bahraini Jewish woman representing Bahrain in the US she said, “Over its history, Bahrain has provided unparalleled opportunities to its citizens regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion.

“This is not a well-worn public relations cliché, but the reality that thousands of Bahrainis live every day.

“In no other county in the Middle East is ‘my story’ – that of a Jewish woman who rose on her merits to the highest levels of civil society – even possible.”

You can read her response to Obama’s words on her blog at the web address http://houdanonoo.wordpress.com/  which I think is very apt.

It is no wonder then that even Adam Ereli, Washington’s former ambassador to Bahrain,  has attacked his own country over its attitude towards the kingdom.

Ereli served as a diplomat for 24 years in the Middle East – and was US Ambassador to Bahrain from 2007-2011, when he was also a spokesman for the US State Department. And his words now that the US “neglects its allies at its peril” are ringing loud and clear.

US seems to taking lightly the long relationship between Bahrain and the United States – with Bahrain providing a Gulf base for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

I believe that we – citizens and residents alike – must all vehemently stress that the US government and its leaders retract their statement  and apologize to all  for this wrongful  comparison.

Bahrain is a place where not just Islamic sects, but even Christians, Hindus and Sikhs are encouraged to have their own places of worship. One look at the temples, churches and gurudwaras we see here tells it all.  And all are living with exemplary amity and brotherhood.

And, I am sure, this peaceful Bahrain will not let some ill-informed statements – even from the world leaders – affect its society in any negative manner. It will continue in its lifestyle of peace and harmony.