Prominent Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab accused Bahrain’s ruling family of seeking to change Bahrain’s demography by adopting a strategy similar to that used by the UK in the creation of Israel.
Talking to Iranian news channel Press TV, Rajab said the systematic naturalization of foreigners and the deportation of locals after revoking their citizenships are proof that al-Khalifa family is implementing the same strategy that Britain implemented in Palestine.
Dozens of Bahrainis have had their citizenship revoked and several have also been deported since Bahrain adopted the Bahraini Citizenship Law last year stipulating that suspects convicted of “terrorist” acts could be stripped of their nationality.
“The Bahraini authorities are running out of arguments to justify repression. They are now resorting to extreme measures such as jail sentences and revoking nationality to quell dissent in the country, rather than allowing people to peacefully express their views,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director.
“Arbitrarily depriving these Bahrainis of their nationality and forcing them out of Bahrain renders them ‘stateless’ and goes contrary to Bahrain’s international obligations,” said Sahraoui.
Moreover, the Bahraini ruling family have been naturalizing foreigners since 2012 in an attempt to change the demographics of the country.
According to information Al-Akhbar received earlier this year, the Bahraini authorities have granted tens of thousands of people, with certain characteristics and from designated countries, Bahraini citizenship, in an attempt to create a new sectarian majority, which would deny the Shia their rightful representation in the state’s institutions.
These tactics are similar to those used by the West to alter the demography of Palestine.
Khalil al-Tafakji, a settlement and map expert in East Jerusalem, asserted to Al-Akhbar that Israel has been systematically working since 1967 to turn Jerusalem into a city with Jewish features. “In 1967, 70,000 Palestinians and not a single Israeli lived in [East] Jerusalem, whereas today 320,000 Palestinians and at least 200,000 Israelis are residing in the city.”
Tafakji then said that “125,000 Palestinians have been forced by the Israeli occupation forces to live behind the [apartheid] wall, which means only 195,000 Palestinians are currently living in East Jerusalem, making Zionist settlers the city’s majority.”
The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-infamous Balfour Declaration, called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state – a move never recognized by the international community.
Moreover, Rajab, director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) and co-founder of Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), said that Britain has been supporting the Bahraini authorities, as well as other Gulf states, in their crackdown on pro-democracy protests.
Foreign military presence and military cooperation with Western countries are common in Gulf countries.
Britain said on December 5 it had sealed a deal to open a new military base in Bahrain, its first permanent base in the Middle East since it formally withdrew from the Gulf in 1971, drawing concern from Bahraini opposition groups.
Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid al-Khalifa considered the agreement to be a step that bolstered “growing” cooperation between his country and the UK.
Washington is also a long-standing ally of the ruling al-Khalifa dynasty and Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
During the Gulf War in 1991, the US military presence became firmly-established with permanent bases and a comprehensive support structure after signing “protective” agreements with all the countries on the Western bank of the Gulf.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf neighbors sent troops into Bahrain in March 2011 and reinforced a crackdown that led to accusations of serious human rights violations.
With Saudi Arabia’s help, Bahrain crushed peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations that began on February 14, 2011.
The small nation has yet to resolve the conflict between the monarchy and the opposition, which argues that the country’s Shia majority population is discriminated against.