Massive rally in Bahrain backs GCC union
Manama, May 20, 2012
A proposed GCC union received a massive show of support as thousands of Bahrainis rallied last night (May 19) to back the move.
The idea was discussed during the GCC Summit, but fears that it could affect nations' sovereignty, were dismissed by a senior community leader who addressed the rally last night.
National Unity Assembly (NUA) chairman Dr Shaikh Abdullatif Al Mahmood said it was long overdue during a speech at Ahmed Al Fateh Islamic Centre (Grand Mosque).
In fact, he billed it as the dawn of a new Middle East with the GCC as a major power.
'We believe that the step towards a GCC union has been long overdue after the failure of the current Gulf Co-operation Council in fulfilling its people's aspirations,' he said.
'We will be the strongest union that ever exists as we share common language, traditions and customs.'
Participants at the rally waved flags of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE - which were also draped on the mosque - and shouted slogans against Iran for meddling in the internal affairs of Bahrain and Gulf countries.
The rally was held under the slogan 'One Arabian Gulf, One People' and featured food stalls and souvenir stalls.
The NUA leader said the National Political Societies Coalition (NPSC) that includes several groups including Al Menbar Islamic Society, Al Asala Islamic Society and Al Wasat Al Arabi society backed calls for GCC integration in all spheres - political, economic, commerce, foreign affairs and security.
'Even if there are countries who do not agree or oppose the GCC union, they will still be part of the GCC and it will not stop others from joining,' Dr Al Mahmood told the Gulf Daily News (GDN) on the sidelines of the rally.
'I would also like to highlight here that if the GCC union is activated it will not affect Bahrain's identity. Each country will have its own rulers and set of laws.'
The NUA leader acknowledged that Bahraini society was polarised after unrest last year with some groups now opposing GCC union.
'The importance of having a strong and meaningful union between GCC states is to protect us from the dangers of becoming divided similar to the current state of our neighbours and brothers in Iraq,' he said.
Dr Al Mahmood said the demand was for a swift transition from to a GCC Union that serves its people, protects the sovereignty of each country, does not negatively affect individual rights and respects popular will and supported a separation of powers legislative, executive and judicial powers all member states.
He said the 'New Middle East' should protect the Arab and Islamic identity and at the same time respect freedom to worship.
Denouncing Iran's rejection of the GCC union, Dr Al Mahmood said the recent statements by Iranian officials showed its 'hostility' towards the Gulf states.
'The Iranian regime through it institutions and branches of power have interfered in Bahrain's internal matters, after supporting the sectarian movement that tore the social fabric of Bahrain's society,' he said.
In his speech that focussed on several issues, the NUA leader further expressed concern about the ongoing vandalism and violence.
'There must be no immunity or pardon for those who destroy and instigate violence regardless of their social and religious status or their job and rank,' he said.
Among those present were Minister of State for Information Affairs Samira Rajab, MP Dr Somaya Al Jowder and MP Ibtisam Hejres, who all backed the GCC union call.
'If we look at the other side, it will help foreign workers' mobility in the member states, who can work freely like citizens in a bigger market,' said Dr Al Jowder.
She said a GCC union similar to the European Union and the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) would help peace and stability in these blocs.
Riot police and community police were deployed outside the mosque in Juffair, as traffic police ensured a smooth flow of traffic. – TradeArabia News Service