First Published: 2014-05-25

Activist Nabil Rajab appeals for ‘serious dialogue’ in Bahrain
Bahrain releases prominent Bahraini Shiite activist Nabil Rajab after he served two-year jail term.
Middle East Online

Advocating rights with sectarian discourse

DUBAI - Prominent Bahraini Shiite activist Nabil Rajab issued an appeal on Sunday for "serious dialogue" in the Sunni-ruled kingdom following his release after serving a two-year jail term.

Rajab was arrested in the wake of the crackdown on a month of Shiite-led protests in 2011 demanding political reforms, and was jailed for taking part in "unauthorised" demonstrations.

He was freed on Saturday, and is now calling for a fresh round of dialogue between the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty and the opposition representing the Gulf archipelago's Shiite majority.

"Unfortunately, the situation today is worse than when I went to jail because of an upsurge in violence, which we reject," Rajab said by telephone.

"The only solution is a serious dialogue between the royal family and the opposition" dominated by the Shiite movement Al-Wefaq, said Rajab, who heads the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.

"Attempts at dialogue undertaken in the past were not serious and were rather messages to reassure international public opinion" about the situation in Bahrain, he said.

The opposition has campaigned for the establishment of a genuine constitutional monarchy in Bahrain.

It took part in two rounds of national dialogue, before quitting the negotiations complaining that the authorities were not prepared to make enough concessions.

"We cannot continue to judge people, to restrict freedoms and suppress protests because violence does not produce political solutions," said Rajab, adding he still supported "peaceful demonstrations and rejects violence."

Rajab was awarded Norway's Rafto Prize for rights defenders in September along with his centre's founder, Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja, who is serving a life sentence for plotting with others to overthrow the monarchy.

Strategically located just across the Gulf from Iran, Bahrain is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet and is a major offshore financial and services centre for its Arab neighbours in the oil-rich Gulf.

 

Egypt, France agree to step up cooperation against terrorism

Syria, Russia support UN in suspending Aleppo fighting

Pope to rebuild bridges with Islamic world in Turkey visit

OPEC meets for pivotal decision on oil output

Lebanese diva Sabah passes away

Powers to push for Iran nuclear deal before new deadline

Iraqi forces, tribesmen battle IS jihadists in Ramadi

Egypt jails 78 minors for pro-Morsi protests

US slams Assad regime for ‘continued slaughter’

Regime indiscriminate strikes kill scores in Islamic State 'capital' in Syria

Putin meets with Syria Foreign Minister in Black Sea retreat of Sochi

Britain rushes to fight terror with controversial bill

Gunmen kill 3 Egypt policemen in fresh terrorist attack

Iran lawmakers finally approve third Rouhani science minister pick

Turkey clears only suspect in alleged poisoning of former president

Huthis humiliate Al-Ahmar clan with capture of Sanaa headquarters

Christians hold out in Syria second city despite Daesh threat

Libya’s Derna emerges as new IS stronghold

Egypt to reopen Rafah border crossing Wednesday

Egypt leader begins two-day trip to France

Tribesmen blow up Yemen’s main oil pipeline

Russia trims oil output

UN chief calls for halt to Libya air strikes

Syrian air strikes on Raqa kill 63 civilians

17 killed in fatal Cairo building collapse

Egypt nabs five Salafist leaders

Essebsi leads Tunisia presidential vote

Paris pushing for 'safe zones' in war-torn Syria

New air strike hits Tripoli’s sole operational airport

Pentagon chief steps down

Saudi seeks to ‘knock out’ shale oil competitors from oil market

Death toll rises from Morocco flash floods

Yemen troops free 8 hostages from Al-Qaeda

Italy hails Egypt as 'strategic partner'

US Congress skeptical of Iran nuclear talks extension

Khartoum, Darfur rebels open ceasefire talks

Time runs out for biggest chance to resolve Iran nuclear standoff

Egypt leader heads to Italy

Morocco arrests six over online IS allegiance pledge

Iraqi forces retake areas near Iran border from jihadists

Southern Morocco storms claim eight lives

Marzouki, Essebsi set for runoff in Tunisia presidential vote

Biden wraps up Turkey visit without breakthrough on Syria

Sudan launches investigation into claims of 'mass rape' in Darfur village

Assad urges ‘real pressure’ on backers of 'terror'