By CPWR Staff, Adaptation of original Bahrain Interfaith report by Sheikh Maytham Al Salman
According to clergy spanning a world of spiritual beliefs, Bahrain is an island nation half populated by immigrants who live in peace. For Bahrain Interfaith, this captures the essence of diversity and harmony. Easter, a holiday that is most important in Christianity, was the backdrop there for an important snapshot of a Persian country where interfaith is the vehicle for social cohesion.
An Easter party organized by Bahrain Interfaith held on March 29 in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, brought together representatives of several churches in Bahrain, civil organizations, diplomats, and expats spanning the globe from the United States and the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Greece, South Africa, Kenya, Canada, China, Taiwan, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Lebanon, and Tunisia.
Speeches delivered highlighted positive sentimentality about the fair and religiously open Bahrain. Bryan Condub, an American, began speaking personally of Bahrain with great joy about interacting with various cultures that coexist in a state of peace and security. “I thank the Lord who gave me the opportunity to discover the tolerance and openness of the people of Bahrain and its residents,” Condub began. He continues,
I have visited and worked in 25 countries since I left the United States and did not witness anything like the tolerance and ethnic diversity in Bahrain.
Reflecting on a year of work with Bahrain Interfaith, Condub said that religious extremism is the biggest threat to world peace, and that Easter is not only a Christian celebration, but a festival of humanity.
Pastor Basi Ligethlem of the Rivers of Joy church emphasized the philosophy of Easter and biblical verses of Easter. Concluding a powerful speech, Ligethlem declared, “since twenty years ago I was wandering in the Middle East until I settled in Bahrain and found it already a country of tolerance and peace. Because of its peaceful people and their good manners”.
Sheikh Maytham Al Salman spoke short and simply stating, “Bahrain is an oasis of tolerance and openness, and will remain a model of modesty and coexistence between different religious and ethnic groups”.
Religous groups were asked to invest religious occasions across all religions to spread and establish the principles of peace, compassion, non-violence, civil coexistence, religious tolerance, social justice, and respect for human dignity. Bahraini flutist Ahmed Ghanim delighted guests by saying that the message of music is also peace, love, tolerance and joy.
Historically, Bahrain has been known since ancient times as a welcoming place to newcomers, reinforcing its cultural position and transforming the country into a meeting point for religions and civilizations. Seated in an unsettled region, it became known as a center for peace and tolerance. Manama, the capital, embraces expatriate communities of a multitude of ethnic and religious backgrounds without discrimination. Manama is the first Gulf capital to appreciate and support churches since 1900. Visitors nowadays discover a local character of flexibility, moderation, openness, and welcoming attitudes.