Under international law freedom of religion remains a principle no nation can, in theory at least, violate without fear of serious repercussions. And yet, country such as Bahrain have defied and defiled such law more times than anyone cares to count without so much as a rebuke from those institutions which sole duty is to protect religious freedom.
The primary sources of law underpinning the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief are article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.
The work of the mandate is also guided by the relevant articles of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
Security services in Bahrain have imposed a ban on Shia Islam – de facto outlawing Shia Muslims from practising their faith.
Reports from Diraz – a village on the outskirt of Manama, continues to be under-siege from police and residents prevented from freely practicing their faith.
Eyewitnesses said that the authorities intensified their security presence on Friday (March 30, 2018) at Diraz entrance and prevented citizens and Imam of Friday prayer from entering the village.
Activists posted photos showing citizens performing Friday prayers separately (without being led by an Imam) in the Imam Al-Sadiq mosque, where the largest Friday prayers for the Shia majority were used to be held.
Since June 2016, security authorities have banned Shia from performing their largest Friday prayers, revoked the citizenship of the spiritual leader of Shia majority Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim.
Sheikh Isa Qassim has been under house arrest since May 23, 2017, after the authorities forcibly dispersed a peaceful sit-in outside his house that was stage in protest against his targeting.