Church: Pope in Bahrain: Plea for human rights

Church: Pope in Bahrain: Plea for human rights

Pope in Bahrain: plea for human rights

Pope Francis has traveled to Bahrain.  Photo: Alessandra Tarantino/AP/dpa

Pope Francis has traveled to Bahrain. photo

© Alessandra Tarantino/AP/dpa

Immediately after landing in Bahrain, the pope surprised the representatives of the Gulf state with plenty of criticism. The Islamic kingdom wants to shine in the region – but Francis talks about the downside.

To kick off a visit to the Gulf state of Bahrain Pope Francis respect for human rights and fair working conditions. Right at the beginning of a multi-day trip on Thursday, the head of the Catholic Church addressed issues that are critical in the kingdom and other states on the Persian Gulf.

Francis quoted from the constitution of the country in which Islam is the state religion. He spoke of obligations “so that there is no discrimination and the basic human rights not hurt, but encouraged”.

Bahrain criticized for human rights violations

The country with a population of 1.5 million has repeatedly come under international criticism for violations of fundamental human rights. Therefore, various organizations had asked the Pope to address the issue during his trip. Referring to the death penalty, which is still being carried out there, he now said: “I am thinking in particular of the right to life, of the need to always guarantee it – also with regard to those who are punished and whose lives are not eliminated can be.”

According to human rights organization Human Rights Watch, six people have been executed in Bahrain since 2017. There are currently 26 people on death row. King Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa can confirm a death sentence, commute it to imprisonment or grant pardons. Before Francis, there had never been a pope in Bahrain. In the neighboring country Qatar The soccer World Cup is about to begin.

Pope Francis condemns slave labor

In his speech, the Argentine also called for “decent working conditions” and condemned slave labor. In Bahrain as well as in Qatar – both extremely rich countries – there are numerous migrants from South Asia who work there for little money. Bahrain should be “a beacon” for better working conditions in the entire region, said the pontiff. Several ten thousand migrants in Bahrain – for example from the Philippines – are Catholic.The Vatican puts the number of Catholics in the island state at around 80,000.

The 85-year-old Pope struggled with knee pain again on Thursday. During the flight to Bahrain, he did not walk through the rows as usual to greet the journalists traveling with him. In the royal palace he was pushed in a wheelchair. Jorge Mario Bergoglio – that’s his real name – has recently been walking short distances with a walking stick. This had indicated that his knee problems had improved somewhat.


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