Crown Prince against Evil Theocracies

The words of Bahrain’s Crown Prince at the opening of the 10th IISS Manama Dialogue, which ended at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Bahrain yesterday , suddenly attracted the attention they deserve from the global media.

And on radio shows and news channels like BBC and CNN, I see strategy-analysts discussing the crux of the matter that he so effectively brought to the forefront at this year’s Manama Dialogue.

According to him it is not merely on the ‘war on terror’, but on “the real threat – the rise of evil theocracies” that our focus must be.

His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister of Bahrain, while opening the high profile conclave of foreign ministers, diplomats, and acclaimed political and economic analysts here – organized by IISS ( International Institute for Strategic Studies) – pointed out that the real danger we face today is from “theocrats”.

Coming from the leadership of a dynamic country in the Arab region, I found his statement very courageous and very inspiring.

Calling a spade a spade needs courage when, all around you, there are people who are ready to jump against you, quoting political correctness.

For long, I think, leaders of the Arab region with Islamic heritage have been hesitating to boldly condemn and reprimand those ideologies that are destabilizing the region.

For long, Arab nations have shied away from condemning brothers who are going astray, on misdirected paths of extreme theological leanings; even when some of them preached violence and anarchy.

But I am glad Bahrain showed its resolve in telling the world that we do not tolerate twisted ideologies of hypocritical theocracies, like that of the Islamic state.

I am glad that the Crown Prince actually spoke out as one voice of our country. A country known to many as an oasis of peace.

I am glad that the Crown Prince said, ““We must use all resources to hold accountable those who place themselves above other ordinary human beings who claim they have divine right to rule. These are people who try to govern us, here on earth, and in the hereafter. We are not only fighting terrorists, we are fighting theocrats.”

While most of us may passionately embrace religion, and accept religious leaders as a source of truth, the fact remains that unanimity or uniformity on these matters cannot be easily achieved.

No wonder, during the early stages of democracy itself, the Greek philosophers at Athens, the seat of fledgling democracy, debated the need for the separation of State and religion.

The first amendment of the US constitution guarantees to citizens many freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. It may not work in all countries, but this ideology needs a thorough investigation.

The fact that the first amendment forbids US Congress from both promoting one religion over others, and also restricting an individual’s religious practices, shows the foresight that the country’s founding fathers had in order to avoid religious strife.

While many Arab governments are trying to soundly administer their nations, despite the state religion of Islam enshrined in their constitutions, it is ideologies such as that of Islamic state that are seriously harming the people around the world, and also harming the genuine theists.

I hope the warring nations, which have serious deep-rooted religious rifts, will heed to this new call of our Crown Prince.

And when the region awakens, it must join hands and collectively fight these misdirected, murderous theocracies.

There will then be a welcome sunrise on the horizon, of a newer region with saner people.