Bahrain touts religious tolerance

May 3, 2012 at 11:33 AM
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MANAMA, Bahrain, May 3 (UPI) -- The kingdom of Bahrain expressed its commitment to religious freedom during meetings with members of the Christian faith, the monarchy proclaimed.

The government announced that Kind Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa met with the Christian community to reaffirm his commitment to religious freedom.

"His Majesty King Hamad praised the churches' roles in the community and thanked the leaders for their efforts to promote tolerance in the country," an official statement read. "He expressed hope that the churches will continue to further peace and understanding in Bahrain and facilitate intercultural dialogue."

Bahrain's human rights record is under scrutiny more than a year after at least 50 people were killed during an uprising led predominately by Shiite minorities.

A court in Bahrain this week said the civilian courts would retry 21 activists, including Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. He was sentenced to life in prison for allegedly plotting against the government and has been on a hunger strike since Feb. 8.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. rights commission, said Khawaja should be given more basic privileges.

The Sunni-led monarchy is said to be investigating recommendations outlined by an independent commission that probed last year's violence.

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