Bahrain MPs ban mixing of politics and religion

Manama: The political sphere should be out of bounds to religious preachers, Bahrain’s lawmakers have said.

Under a draft law passed by the lower house of the bicameral parliament, no religious figure who delivers sermons should be a member of a political society or engage in political activities.

The lawmakers supporting the motion argued that the decision would ensure that political actions are not given a religious dimension and that religious acts are not politicised.

They said that the separation was significant and that religion and politics should have their own separate prerogatives.

The lawmakers who opposed the motion said they were astonished by the move, arguing that the political sphere would inevitably lose high competencies who are active in religious areas.

The draft which amends Article V of the 2005 Political Society law adds a new condition for anyone to become member of a political society.

The amendment stipulates that a member of a political society cannot be a preacher or engaged in religious guidance activities even if it is on a benevolent basis.

By supporting the motion, the lawmakers have rejected a recommendation from the parliamentary legislative and legal committee to turn it down. The draft is now referred to the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament.

The political society law has clearly banned political societies from using religious tribunes to promote their ideas, objectives or programmes.

However, lawmakers felt that it was not sufficient to prevent people from using religious interpretations for political purposes.

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