• November 15, 2006
  • 41 minutes read

Dr. Salah Ali: We did not hold secret deals with gov’t

Dr. Salah Ali: We did not hold secret deals with gov’t

– “We did not hold secret deals with the government, domestic interests are top priority”
– “We combated financial, administrative, and moral corruption, saved a lot for the budget of the state”
– “We are keen to ally with organizations who share with us the electoral constituncies”
– “We did not field womanly figures according to their own wish”
– “The Bahraini people are pious and they do believe that the Islamic trend can bring in progress”
– “The Islamic movement and its two trends; Sunni and Shiites will constitute the majority of the next council”

Bahrain will pass a new electoral experience on 25 November 2006 on both levels: the municipal and legislative ones in 40 constituencies. These elections are important because they witness the return of the political opposition bodies to participate in elections after they boycotted 2002 elections. Despite their reservations on some Bahraini constitutional aspects like privileges given to the elected council, yet they decided to participate.
These elections come while Bahrain is witnessing a great political controversy sweeping the country; it is related to the evaluation of the political reform initiated by the King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The elections will include a huge number of organizations, and many Islamic political groups from both the Sunni and Shiite trends.
In this regard, the National Islamic Forum-Muslim Brotherhood in Bahrain-is the first bloc to be formed in 2002 Parliament, and it contributed largely to the success of the first parliamentary experience. Parliamentary statistics showed that it carried out one third of the council’s activities in addition to its managing to bring many achievements to reality.
However, this bloc was not safe from accusations against it, as is the nature of political life in the world, and the first legislative phase for the Bahraini parliament has ended with positives and disadvantages. The country got ready to receive the parliamentary and municipal elections 2006, amid atmospheres that indicate fierce competition between blocs or independents.
For this, we wanted to know what the bloc of the National Islamic Forum gave in the last legislative phase, how it defended itself against accusations, what are the preparations it made for the next elections, what about the electoral alliances, the number of candidates who will run for elections in addition to opening many important issues.
We had the following interview with the head of the society and the bloc of the National Islamic Forum Dr. Salah Ali:

First, after the elapse of the first legislative phase, how do you evaluate the performance of the Bahraini Parliament during the last four years?

“I believe that the first Parliamentary experience, that came after a long absence- since 1975 the date of dissolving the first council, is considered successful and promising although there were some who were skeptical about this success; it is the fruit for the bold decision that the people would participate in the legislative authority. If the experience had weak points  because it was new in the Bahraini society, but I assure all people that this experience will mature and will expand and increase through exercise and continuation in addition to guaranteeing the participation of all trends and all directions; we can’t say that our first experience was unsuccessful as some reportedly say, but it set the first cornerstone and the right step for the parliamentary work in our country; also, our experience in The Kingdom of Bahrain was unprecedented in the  Gulf Cooperation Council save the State of Kuwait.

 But some in the Bahraini street are skeptic about the role of the parliament and it’s provided facilities to citizens?

* I can confirm that the parliament did not present anything indicating injustice or violation for this council; the problem lies in the weak parliamentary culture at the Bahraini street; so you can meet some that do not understand what is the role of the parliament and don’t know what are the achievements of the parliament, it is well-known that the parliament has two main functions: legislative and supervisory; in other words, the citizen should ask the council what are the laws and legislations that the parliament had offered, and how it exercised the supervisory role on government and how it fought administrative, financial and moral corruption; however, this takes place often as many people ask us what are he facilities you provide for us, something- in fact- outside the role of the parliament roles but it is the role of the municipal council; yet, we our best to address the citizens’s needs.
This is one aspect, the second aspect is that people usually ask about issues that serve them directly and meet their interests regardless of others; this is a narrow minded horizon; the one will adopt the parliamentary role from this side will see that the parliament hasn’t offered any thing, but if we moved to the side of legislations and laws, we will find that the parliament offered tens of bills and laws; it also exercised its supervisory right, something out of the least personal interests.

The Largest Parliamentary Bloc:

This is related to the performance of the parliament, what about the forum, are you satisfied with what the forum has offered?

• My praise may be discredited because it comes from the head of the Islamic national Forum, but I will cite what the local newspapers and widespread civil councils reported in The Kingdom of Bahrain and what a large number of officials said about the role of the forum; they are the ones who can witness for us and we are proud of their praise; they mentioned that the forum is the greatest organized bloc in parliament, and that it offered many services; also, many hailed the good organization of the forum in its interpositions and its theses; due to the high responsibility that every member in the council assumes, the bloc appeared to be behaving consistently.

• In fact, this becomes clear in the voting process and the consensus on a single opinion among the bloc members, something that was clearly absent among most other parliamentary blocs; due to this cohesion and coordination, the bloc did not miss a field without being tackled: either through suggestions or with recommendations or by a law or posing questions, also this cohesion becomes clear greatly through voting process inside the council and the unanimous  agreement of bloc over vrious issues.

• Also I want to say that the forum is the bloc that tabled the biggest number of bills and suggestions compared to other blocs. The forum lodged more than one fifth of the bill laws, and they submitted a quarter of the questions tabled in parliament, and one third of the suggestions as recommendations; we are proud of this achievement.

Some believe that you did not achieve the required balance between the legislative role and the supervisory role ؟

• * Of course, the legislative role dominated over the supervisory role in the four last years, although some believe that there must b a balance between the legislative and supervisory roles;  I believe that one third of the last period was devoted to the legislative role, in the form of suggestions and bills, while the other third was for the other supervisory role; in the next council, we will give the supervisory side a larger share than in the last council; frankly speaking, the 2002 council offered both legislative and supervisory roles.

• In every house

You mentioned before that the statistics point that the Forum has fulfilled several achievements on the parliamentary level, but some rumor that the public rating of the Islamic national Forum decreased, comment on this?

• I am entirely against this opinion; because the evidence show that the grassroots of the Forum are in a continuous increase, and that the public rating of the Forum increased in the Bahraini street; furthermore, when the representatives of the forum attend any of the council’s activities, they are welcomed with respect and love.
This is the truth as seen by the Bahraini street; however, there is a center of studies that carried out full polls in several constituencies in  The Kingdom of Bahrain and it knows well the degree of public ratings of societies and projections of their win in the elections; their results warmed the cockles of our hearts because it classified the Islamic national forum as one of the societies that gained high reputation in the country and its name became common in each house and in every Bahraini family.
• And you should understand- as much as politics is concerned- the Forum became the topic of the moment whether among supporters or opponents, among those who are loving us or not; we gained good reputation, but I believe that the one that offends the forum and launches such rumors has mean purposes, and want to defame this entity and its trends in addition to offending anyone participating in the reform process and the reformist project of His Majesty the King; we do not mind what these evil people say; also the Bahraini street became more aware about the plot woven against this forum.

• Opponents support their claims by saying that the popular marches of the forum, like sit ins and demonstrations for supporting the Arab and Islamic cause, were few if compared to other societies and other trends?

• * I agree with you that- regarding marches and sit-ins- we have a relatively weak performance in this issue,  but the forum participated in organizing a number of these activities and, in turn, we did not participate in other ones, we believe that, sometimes, a crisis needs a popular mobilization without exaggeration in it; to cite the example of the Palestinian cause, when there is a crisis we try to make high mobilization to support the Palestinian people, but when the unfair aggression of  the Zionist entity on Lebanon took place, we found it  necessary to move in the form of a sit-in to express our opinion in the issue, but the great number of people in the sit-ins and the marches brought them out of their target, as the core of a march or a sit-in is to convey a message from the country to the public opinion but without exaggeration and irrational excitements.
• What I want to assure is that the forum participated in most important issues whether national, Islamic or international like the crises of Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon.

Ties with the Government

To return to your parliamentary role, what about the ties with government which are reportedly good?

* the bloc’s relation with the government was, at the beginning, good and we exercised a role that aims at opening channels of dialogue; we did not face difficulties in that and the government was so much responsive; when we invite officials for a meeting, they used to welcome us and we listen to them and they listen to us; but the problem is that a number of issues raised in such meetings between the bloc and the government regarding the Bahraini street, never achieved progress on the ground although the dialogue was fruitful and well, and all were listening to each other and there was a mutual respect; but this dialogue did not yield any thing on the ground.

• * But some see that you are closer to the government than masses from the people powers, what do you think?

• * This is untrue; then we practice the political work according to what we see as the interest for the homeland and our compatriots; we, in the Forum, support right wherever it exists; then if a bill or a vote came from the government and is beneficial for citizens and protects their rights or improves their situations, we support this bill. We do not oppose for opposition’s sake, as some report; we don’t reject anything coming from the part of the government; we support every thing meeting the citizen’s interests; if the government submits what underestimates the citizen rights or breaches his/her freedoms or increases the living burdens on citizens, we shall  stand against government using all powers; our first and last loyalty is to the citizen and the country.
what happens is that people sometimes believe that the forum stood beside the government, yes we may support it and I say that the forum always support any thing that meets the interest of the citizen whether it is tabled by the government, the opposition or even from the other blocks, then we support truth wherever it is.

* Don’t you see that the government succeeded in containing you through appointing a minister representing your bloc?

* This claim was raised before and I like to clarify that the revered minister is not from the members of the Islamic National Forum, also her appointment did not come upon a request from the Forum and we were not consulted before her appointment, and there is not any deal as some claim, and the minister ( the Minister of Social Development ) was appointed upon a mere royal decree that warmed our hearts, but her countenance made people believe that it was a matter of bargain between the Forum and the government, something completely untrue, and we feel glad because the revered minister is close to the Islamic trend, but she is not a member in the Islamic National Forum.

• Was there any portfolio offered to the Forum ؟

• Up to the moment there is no portfolio being offered to the Forum for any member belonging to the forum, and there are some reports that there will be one or more ministerial portfolios to be offered to the Forum in next period, and we want to aver that the Forum was not offered any portfolio in the past or in the present .

* What about the appointments in Shura Council?

* It is the same situation; the Forum was not ordered to nominate any names for the Shura Council, and there is no member in the Council who represents the platform, something that some rumor, that the Forum exchanges and enters deals with the government for its own interest, and I believe that the Forum is in a higher position than that and it does not spare any effort for the sake of the country, and for its issues, citizens, and does not have any personal interests or worldly interests.

A settlement

What was said before justifies what some people said that the government will nominate many candidates belonging to it in order to defeat the Forum’s candidates?

* we did not hear about that formally, but we heard about these rumors and we heard reports that there are parties occupying sensitive posts in the government and try to  dropping members from the Islamic National Forum in the next elections, and we do not exclude this; it may be attributed to the Islamic National Forum’s position in defending human rights and fighting administrative. financial and moral corruption; this can be seen as an evidence of the strength of the  Forum in its agenda in front of the government; we opened files they were closed for long years, and opening these files raised the public opinion and stirred the Bahraini street and caused a kind of confusion for some governmental parties and those responsible for these violations; this proves that the forum has no bargains with any body but it only seeks the interests of the country and citizens.
 * first, certainly 2006 elections differ from 2002 elections; the competition in elections this year will be strong and will be fierce, due to many reasons: 2002 elections were boycotted by a large sector and many societies did not participate; as for the current situation, all trends and political powers will participate in the next elections and, consequently, the competition will be stronger especially from the political societies and on the level of the independent individuals who are well-known for political activities; nevertheless the Islamic national Forum, praise be to God and due to a previous 4-year experience in 2002, it became more prepared and ready for the 2006 elections through establishing a central institution for the elections for supervising the electoral work, distributing committees in governorates, and forming election groups for candidates; also, the Forum allied with Al-Asala society upon the desire of people and because the society and the forum have meet in a number of goals; also, there is an existing coordination with other political societies who share the forum in many constituencies.
Regarding this issue, many people wonder why do we talk with these societies and not with others; we would like to clarify the point; the forum does not have reservations to talk with other trends all over the country; but, regarding alliances, the Forum gives priority to the societies who have common aspects with the forum; like Al-Asala society and Shura, and The Arab and Islamic Al –Wasat Society.

Did you have a final conclusion regarding the list of the forum?

* Regarding the list, it was settled and we made it public; the Forum’s list includes eight candidates to run for parliament, and we are very optimistic about the results of the meetings that we held with other allied societies, especially Al-Asala society, the big society that share with the forum many aspects and in my belief, the unified list and the coordination with a number of the political societies have pleased many Bahraini families; the target from this list is not to waste efforts and votes and to practice a national role in order to elevate the level of every society away from personal interests, instead of wasting efforts in voting between societies; this will yield good results for the Bahraini street and the ballot boxes will be the judge.

• The Forum’s program

  What are the electoral features of the forum’s program?, will its items include the points that were not fulfilled in the previous program ?

• * Regarding the electoral program of 2006, it will be different from 2002 because many items and sections in 2002 were  executed; these achievements should be reviewed in order to maintain better levels; and as for the programs that have not been carried out in 2002 and are still important and urgent, they will be included in 2006 program; in addition to this, there several are new developments that took place in the Bahraini street to be included in the new election program of 2006.

• However, for the most important features of the election program, they consist of political, legislative, economic and living agendas and the agendas of education (school-university), increasing or improving salaries, the housing file, loans given to citizens, and the file of women and children; also there is the file of youth and sports which the forum will give due care because youth are the most growing sector in society and need care; there are also the environmental file and the environmental issues that started to show up on the arena specially that Bahrain is an island and has a big marine environment that needs care.
• And we should not forget the constitutional file and requests  for amending some of the constitutional articles; we have explained before that the main target of the Forum is how to  increase the legislative authorities inside parliament; we try the increase these legislative authorities through the constitutional file; also there is another sensitive file: fighting corruption in its three financial types, the political, administrative and moral ones, the forum has practiced a good role in this field during the period of the last council; it wants to complete these efforts in order to reach the level of a corrupttion-free society.

The woman and elections

* Let’s move to another file; the woman file, specially that you hve been quoted as saying that the absence of technocrats was the reason behind lacking support for women, do we understand from this that the Islamic National Forum does not have any efficient feminine figure that can run fro the elections?

* By god, I didn’t say so; perhaps there was a misconception, and the opposite is true; there are  women who posses great  efficiencies and experience and perhaps the press did not mention exactly what I said; I stated that there are women who enjoy experiences and skills and deserve to be in parliament, but the social composition in the country and the culture of the Bahraini society up to this moment may not be prepared for appointing women in parliament, even if they enjoyed efficiencies; the Bahraini society, with its composition, background and its social inheritances and religious values did not come to making the decision of appointing a woman in parliament, and I said that this topic needs the element of time so that the women can access parliament, and time is the only thing capable of changing these convictions, and we declared to the public opinion that the Islamic national forum does not object to nominating women to run for councils; also we support this opinion.

In addition to this, the Islamic National Forum has 3 female figures who are expected to run for 2006 elections; but due to unlucky circumstances the Forum did notice this action, and these reasons are related to the women themselves, and we responded to their social and vocational circumstances, and we postponed this to 2010 elections; so, the Forum hasn’t nominated, this year, any female figures for efficiency reasons, but it respected the desires of women who wanted to postpone this.
 This is regarding the nomination, but what about the role of women in supporting candidates and their role in the Islamic National Forum ؟

• the woman enjoys a great position in the Islamic National Forum; they ran fro the last elections of the board of directors and two of our fellow female members managed to won in these free and fair elections to be in the  board of directors, and we are proud of this; because the Islamic National Forum and the Forum carried out this democratic process according to the Islamic Sharia regulations; also that there is an office related to the political issues of woman, and it is specialized in reviewing the feminine activities for women of the forum; as for the women’s role in election campaigns, I say with all pride that  the female element constitute half of the weight of elections in the Forum, if not more than this in some of the Forum’s constituencies, and they participate in the management of the elections work and are distributed in the form of electoral  groups on campaigns according to the region they live in.

The file of Shiite

• * What about the Forum’s ties with the Shiite sect?

• * we- in the Islamic National Forum- say always that it is necessary to give a priority to the national affiliation, and the citizen deals with his fellow citizen without paying attention to his race or his doctrine or his religion or his ideology; the platform believes in citizenship; therefore Shiites are citizens  who have rights and have duties like us; in addition to this, when we submit bills, we do not submit them on a specific sectarian basis, but we try to include all sects in this topic; the Shiites are our fellow citizens, and they are part of this country, our relation with them is a good. Regarding this,  we meet with a number of political societies who have a Shiite majority, and we meet their members and meet their scholars in the previous periods, and talk on everything good for the country; therefore, there is an intimacy and respect among us and the Shiites; and I’d like to say that Al-Islah society has a long history in making rapprochement between the two generous sects, the Sunni and theShiite, and it spent a great time in that in the past; what and I say is that we should cooperate for the sake of the country.

• There are some people who rumor that the Forum has sectarian issues?

• * we refuse strongly playing on sectarianism clashes or stirring any kind of antagonism of a sect towards the another or even the marginalization of another sect; and the Sunni and Shiite sects are appreciated, and they are from the fabric of this society and they have wonderful formation, and Bahrain witnessed peaceful co-existence between the Sunni and the Shiits, and there where many meetings that gathered the two sects. The most famous of these meetings was the one in  2002 at Al-Islah society, organized upon an invitation from sheikh Eissa the board director of Al-Islah society; the guests included His Eminence Sheikh Abdul Amir Al Gamri .
• This in addition to many meetings that gathered us with the Shiite sect and their different movements, till someone came to disturb this national unity, although he is not belonging to this country.
• And the Islamic national Forum confirms that any trials to  affect or to offend the Shiite sect and its members is regarded as an offense to this homeland, and seeks to affect its security and its stability, as well as the Sunnis, this matter should be renounced in all its conditions.
• As we call on all citizens who are really patriots in this country to stand as one hand against those who want to disturb stability and stir seditions or create any anarchy in this homeland or shaking its security or tries to offend the great reformist project of His Majesty King .

Bribes in Elections and Rumors

 There are some difficulties that confront some of the nominees like buying votes in addition to the rumors that circulate during elections, how will members in the forum deal with these rumors?

Generally, the phenomena of buying votes and rumors are expected to boost than what happened in 2002 elections; 2006 may be fierce; however, these actions have already started in some constituencies. Members in the forum are expected to be a target. We would like to advise citizens against bribery and also rumors because they are from our customs and codes of our religion, because Allah ordained that we should seek the truth behind any rumor. We all know that those who circulate false rumors about members in the Forum want to defame them.
However, people trust the forum and they will not believe in such faces, and will reject bribery whether through gifts or money; any nominee tries to do so deserves not to represent his people in Parliament. Whoever buys a vote can sell his homeland, yet he should be fought and exposed in public for his crime. This matter is common among some candidates who do not serve people at all. Anyone known for his services for people has good reputation and no on can defame him; this was mentioned in one of the fatwa for the Supreme Council for the Islamic Affairs.
Let me assure you that the forum will combat these matters through issuing a number of edifying notifications. These notifications will clarify the legal and the juristic fatwa concerning bribery in elections. We contacted other political organizations to adopt the same method and participate in publishing these notifications. We hope through this co-operation to bring forth high edification among Bahrainis.


There are some people who try to terrorize people, do you expect that there will be campaigns to defame Islamists especially those belonging to the forum?

Campaigns to defame Islamists have already started, there are many among local press who started launching campaigns in order to quell the Islamic trend. Usually this can be found in press, some writers said that Islamists in 2002 parliament, offered nothing but trivial things. This is wrong and reflects oppression, because the Islamic trend offered many things in 2002 Parliament; there are many proofs for that, in addition to the fact that it had a land-slide win in 2002 elections; god willing, it will be the winner in 2006 whether Sunni or Shiite.
Generally speaking, the Islamic trend was the most successful in the last parliamentary session. If we go back and remember the events of 1973 in the first parliamentary experience, there were a lot of disputes due to the presence of many non-Islamic trends and, as a result, the parliament was dissolved in 1975; however, the current council remained steadfast for 4 years despite the presence of some disputes. The reason was that there were many blocs of Islamic trends who supported greatly the forum for the common weal. Soon, all people will read through figures and statistics what did the parliament do in the last 4 years. All will be sure that the activities of the Islamic trend offered many things in 2002 Parliament, and we will continue in 2006, god willing.

I assure you that Islamic trend was the one most concerned with the interests of the citizen because it participated with them in mosques and shared them in many events, so they feel that they are closer than them. I believe that the Islamic trend whether Sunni and Shiite can overrun the parliamentary elections in 2006.

Do you think that the success of Islamic trends in Egypt, Palestine and Kuwait will influence the Bahraini Elections?

We have humble readings, but we believe that what happened in Egypt, Palestine and Kuwait will influence the Bahraini Elections because it is a part of the Arab world, and this means that the Arab people are pious and respects its religion and believes that the Islamic trend is the most capable to further progress and Human rights.

Finally, how many seats do you expect for the Forum in the next elections?

We are humble but we have good readings for the seat that we can reap, we have full knowledge about rules and the number of our supporters, given that the Kingdom of Bahrain is a small country; so, our parliamentary seats will be small if compared to other countries. The forum is trying to win about 5 seats because if it succeeded in doing so, it will win by 100% according to our plan; if we exceeded this number, we will be very glad, if the number decreased than what is expected, we have to review the performance and plans of the forum.
Of course, the forum will nominate more than 5 candidates for the elections by the target we wish to reach is to win 5 seats in 2006. I want to point out that there are many parties who are opposing the Forum and they want to defeat its candidates and they use unscrupulous methods to do this. These people are the ones opposing the forum in addition to many media men, societies and some magazines that seek to defeat us; I just want to beware our supporters from them.

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