Woman being denied entry into Bahrain restaurant unmask prejudices? | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Woman being denied entry into Bahrain restaurant unmask prejudices?

By CAPT. MAHMOOD AL MAHMOOD

It is indeed an irony that we emerged from two and a half years of frantic mask-wearing to avoid the COVID-19 virus only to fall into a controversy about whether a person wearing a hijab should be denied entry into a lounge of a restaurant!

Yes, Bahrain has been discussing this hot topic continuously and with concern, since it was so contrary to our nature. After all, we are one of the happiest nations in the world and you don’t get to that status by tolerating intolerance! What is even more distressing is that this would seem to be a dark trait of the leisure industry in Bahrain.

I know of a tourist beach taken on lease by a private investor where women in hijab and men in national thobe are not allowed entry. Just like in the old plays and movies about racism, guards pick selectively from among the guests wanting to enter and turn away those “traditionally dressed”. But this is not who we are.

In the same week that this controversy erupted, I also received a press note that the “This is Bahrain” organisation which works to promote inter-faith harmony and understanding, will hold its annual Ramadan Ghabga at the Church of Our Lady of Awali with prayers by leaders of all faiths.

As the tireless Society Chairperson Betsy B. Mathieson said, it is unique that Bahrain will celebrate Ramadan, Easter and Passover in the same time span – along with the Hindu New Year.

This then is what we should focus on and build upon. Challenge every attempt to veil the true nature of Bahrain’s inclusivity and let the world know we shall not let prejudice smog our outlook. This whole debate about denying some people the right to enjoy their lives as they wish has unmasked those among us who hold such narrow and cheap attitudes.

We must use the tolerance and patience of this Holy Month to make them understand that this is not the real attitude of Bahrain and lead them back to a mental space where their humanity will find the capacity to blossom.

It is indeed an irony that we emerged from two and a half years of frantic mask-wearing to avoid the COVID-19 virus only to fall into a controversy about whether a person wearing a hijab should be denied entry into a lounge of a restaurant!

Yes, Bahrain has been discussing this hot topic continuously and with concern, since it was so contrary to our nature. After all, we are one of the happiest nations in the world and you don’t get to that status by tolerating intolerance! What is even more distressing is that this would seem to be a dark trait of the leisure industry in Bahrain.

I know of a tourist beach taken on lease by a private investor where women in hijab and men in national thobe are not allowed entry. Just like in the old plays and movies about racism, guards pick selectively from among the guests wanting to enter and turn away those “traditionally dressed”. But this is not who we are.

In the same week that this controversy erupted, I also received a press note that the “This is Bahrain” organisation which works to promote inter-faith harmony and understanding, will hold its annual Ramadan Ghabga at the Church of Our Lady of Awali with prayers by leaders of all faiths.

As the tireless Society Chairperson Betsy B. Mathieson said, it is unique that Bahrain will celebrate Ramadan, Easter and Passover in the same time span – along with the Hindu New Year.

This then is what we should focus on and build upon. Challenge every attempt to veil the true nature of Bahrain’s inclusivity and let the world know we shall not let prejudice smog our outlook. This whole debate about denying some people the right to enjoy their lives as they wish has unmasked those among us who hold such narrow and cheap attitudes.

We must use the tolerance and patience of this Holy Month to make them understand that this is not the real attitude of Bahrain and lead them back to a mental space where their humanity will find the capacity to blossom.

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(Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood is the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Tribune and the President of the Arab-African Unity Organisation for Relief, Human Rights and Counterterrorism)