February 25, 2012 § Leave a comment
Bahrain’s longstanding alliance with the United States can be traced back over 100 years ago, when American missionaries arrived in Bahrain and founded a clinic which would later become the American Mission Hospital and established the first church in the Arabian Gulf. Although Bahrain is a Muslim country, religious minorities – including Christians, Jews, Hindus and Baha’i – enjoy full freedom of worship. Today, next to mosques, Bahrain is home to 19 registered Churches, a synagogue, Hindu temples and many other places of worship.
It is in this spirit of religious pluralism that I was very pleased to welcome a group from the Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church to the Embassy on Thursday evening. It is always a pleasure to host engaged and knowledgeable groups for informed discussion.
During my speech, I took the opportunity to share the narrative of events in Bahrain and emphasized the measures our government has taken to address popular concerns and enact needed reform.
Events like these are a wonderful opportunity to share Bahrain’s unique story as a progressive outpost in the Middle East and I look forward to sharing Bahrain’s longstanding tradition of religious freedom with our American friends.
February 24, 2012 § Leave a comment
During my time in the United States, I have appreciated the many opportunities I’ve had to interact with young Americans. I have particularly enjoyed meeting and speaking with the college students who will form the backbone of the next generation of American leaders.
In Tuesday, I traveled to Baltimore, Maryland to address a group of political science and international affairs students at Coppin State University – one of the leading Historically Black Colleges in the United States. During my remarks, I not only took the opportunity to discuss the ongoing political situation in Bahrain, but also my country’s rich cultural heritage stretching over thousands of years.
The students asked a number of pointed questions and I appreciated the opportunity to address their concerns. To date, the public discourse about Bahrain in the United States is over-sensationalized in the media. Bahrain has made mistakes, but we are earnestly working to reform and build a better country for all Bahrainis. I hope the students appreciated the candor of my responses as much as I appreciated the candor of their questions.
February 15, 2012 § Leave a comment
One of the first pieces of advice given to a newly arrived ambassador to the United States is to get out of Washington. Or as the saying goes, “beyond the beltway.” The reason is not due to any dislike of the glorious capital city but because going to other part of America guarantees a much deeper and wider educational experience.
It is good for Americans to hear first hand what is happening in Bahrain and good for me to hear what Americans think should be happening. So I was very happy to return to Chicago earlier this week and honored to have time to speak with members and guests of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
During the event, I spoke for about 20 minutes and had the opportunity to answer a number of questions from the audience. Through hearing their ideas and concerns, I was able to emphasize that reforms in the Kingdom are meaningful and ongoing and that our commitment to deep, meaningful and substantive reform will help achieve reconciliation and unification for all Bahrainis.
Bahrain will not dare forget that the very foundation of our society was challenged and strained one year ago. We have and will continue to work tirelessly to secure the future of our democracy and the security and freedoms of our people.
Americans do care about foreign affairs and they do care about their friends around the world. Friendships come and go but alliances endure. For Bahrain and our friends in the West, our alliance is strong. There will be immense opportunities in the future to strengthen that bond to make history for global peace and democracy.
Following my remarks, I also had the chance to talk with Dr. Cherif Bassiouni – chair of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry – to discuss the ongoing progress in implementing recommendations contained in the Commission’s report. That also was very timely and rewarding.
The Council said I could return anytime – and I intend to do that. Having time to share ideas about Bahrain and its friendship with America is very important.
February 11, 2012 § 1 Comment
Bahrain’s wonderful story has been told for centuries and in many chapters. While we all embrace our important past, we look more to the stories of tomorrow to keep Bahrain progressive, peaceful and a worthy companion to our friends around the world.
Through this blog, I will endeavor to provide insight and thought to what is happening today in Bahrain and share my country’s journey to enact political reform, to provide economic opportunity and to engender a sense of national unity. This will let us communicate directly with the American people and others who wish an unvarnished, accurate report on what is taking place in Bahrain, the U.S.’s longtime friend and strongest ally in the Middle East.
Almost one year ago, my country changed profoundly. At first, peaceful demonstrators took to the streets demanding an expansion of freedom and opportunity for all Bahrainis. Unfortunately, these peaceful protests were co-opted by extremists and turned violent. The Government of Bahrain had to step in to restore law and order.
Since then, Bahrain has undertaken a number of important steps to achieve national reconciliation. In July we held a National Dialogue that resulted in many important political reforms – including an expansion of the powers of elected parliament. Since November, the National Commission has been working earnestly to implement the recommendations contained in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report.
We have much work left to do, but one year later we are getting Bahrain back on course. Through this blog, I hope to keep you informed and updated on events in Bahrain and invite you to share in our journey.