Bahrain and Jewish rights group lead effort to call out extremist clergy

Bahrain's Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa addresses the media, discussing his country's new declaration on religious tolerance on Sept. 13, 2017, in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Johnnie Moore

(RNS) — Leaders of the tiny but religiously diverse kingdom of Bahrain are joining forces with a prominent Jewish human rights group to urge clergy worldwide to sign a new declaration that supports religious freedom and condemns extremism.

“We declare that when extremist clergy preach hatred, violence and seek to sow the seeds of discord, that they are inciting the desecration of the name of God,” reads the Bahrain Declaration, signed at a Los Angeles ceremony Wednesday (Sept. 13) attended by interfaith leaders and co-sponsored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Bahrain’s Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa and Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, walk into Los Angeles’ Museum of Tolerance on Sept. 13, 2017. Photo courtesy of Johnnie Moore

“We call upon all good people of Faith to disown practices such as the sowing of terror, the encouragement of extremism and radicalization, suicide bombing, promotion of sexual slavery, and the abuse of women and children.”

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Leaders of a variety of faiths — such as Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Baha’i —attended the public release of the statement signed by Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in July.

The declaration follows the Marrakesh Declaration, which aimed to protect religious minorities in Muslim countries and was unveiled at a 2016 conference of hundreds of scholars meeting in Morocco.

Left, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, director of global social action agenda of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, speaks to, second left, the Rev. Johnnie Moore, a religious freedom advocate; far right, Bahrain’s Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa; and a delegation of interfaith leaders on Sept. 13, 2017, in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Johnnie Moore

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Johnnie Moore, an evangelical Christian and religious freedom advocate, said the newer declaration “is the latest in a series of heartening actions throughout the region out of a similar concern.”

A center in the king’s name is planned in Bahrain that will highlight historic and modern examples of religious freedom.

This story is available for republication.

About the author

Adelle M. Banks

Adelle M. Banks, production editor and a national reporter, joined RNS in 1995. An award-winning journalist, she previously was the religion reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and a reporter at The Providence Journal and newspapers in the upstate New York communities of Syracuse and Binghamton.