Pope in Bahrain: Treatment of prisoners a measure of society’s values, not just criminals
In a country like Bahrain, where the population has never lived under a democratic system governed by law, it is difficult to separate the law from society’s values and beliefs. We will explore this in more detail, but for now it is important to take a few moments to reflect on the way that the Islamic clergy has been using the country’s prisons to further its political agenda.
From the Islamic perspective, the prisoners are criminals and it is the duty of the government to treat them accordingly. It is in this sense that the prisoners are only held as a measure of society’s values and they need not be treated with respect.
On February 13, 2013, a religious judge of the Islamic Committee in the capital of Manama, called a press conference to announce that he would be handing out “blood money” to the prisoners of the al-Akhbar prison in Manama.
Among the prisoners who have received cash amounts varying from 50,000 baht ($1,250 USD) to 1 million baht, according to the press statement, are all political prisoners held in the country’s prisons. In other words, no one arrested for political reasons is being treated differently or given special treatment.
The al-Akhbar prison in Manama was originally built as the al-Khalifa prison, whose construction was carried out by the British. The prison was then used as a place to hold political prisoners until 1994, when they were transferred to the Abu Nuhifa prison, which had been constructed by the Gulf Kingdom. The al-Akhbar prison is now the largest prison in the country.
The prisoners have been subjected to a number of “reforms” by the religious authorities over the years, but nothing has been done on their behalf to alleviate their plight. Among the political prisoners to receive blood money