Social dimension crucial for reconciliation in Bahrain, academic says

Bahrainis say that patriotic moves needed to help overcome social, political crisis
  • By Habib Toumi Bureau Chief

Manama: The social dimension is a crucial factor in helping with political and national reconciliation, a Bahraini thinker has said.
Bahrainis have used the evening gatherings in Ramadan to address ways to help push national reconciliation and heal the worst social and political wounds in their modern history.
Debates have shown that while some groups insist on the political dimension as the way forward towards national reconciliation, others say that the social factor is more important within the Bahraini context.
“The social dimension is very important because it could lead to mutual acceptance,” academic Baqer Al Najar has said.
“Once social acceptance is achieved, the political concurrence will follow. The problem is that the events witnessed by Bahrain have caused an almost full rejection of the others, and this means that the social aspect should become the focus of attention and efforts,” Al Najar, a University of Bahrain sociology professor and author of several books, told a Ramadan gathering.
Other countries where people were divided over critical issues used mainly the social aspect to help with their national reconciliations, he said.
“The Irish experience, cited as one of the most successful national reconciliations, is a good example of the significance of the social factor,” he said.
However, Al Najar said that the political aspect should not be undervalued and must remain the factor that will consecrate and reinforce national reconciliation.
“There is a need to achieve a common denominator of solutions that will bolster progress towards reconciliation.”
Al Najar said that he fully supported calls issued by several Bahrainis to use the month of Ramadan to overcome differences, often on sectarian lines, on the events in the country.
‘Good opportunity’
“There is no doubt that Ramadan has a special significance for all people and that it has highly important social and spiritual features. Such moral aspects should be used in a positive way to boost mutual acceptance, openness and reconciliation.”
“There is an usually high level of communication between people across the social and political spectrum and this could be used as a prelude to political reconciliation. The gatherings are a good opportunity to lessen tension and move forward,” he said.
Salah Al Jowdar, a religious figure, said that national reconciliation could be achieved by religious figures and peace-loving Bahrainis.
“We live in a religiously committed society, which gives religious figures a special significance and their words are often heeded, so their responsibility is to use the month of Ramadan to push for mutual acceptance and compassion,” he said.
Bahrainis keen on a peaceful society should move into genuine action for the sake of the nation, he said.
“They should work on promoting a culture of national unity through practical programmes. They should at the same time urge people to shun violence and avoid confrontations,” he said. “The biggest loser of what has happened in Bahrain is the simple citizen. We do need to have a strong voice of reason as the continuation of the crisis will deepen the social wounds and compound economic losses that will badly impact people’s lives,” he said.