Bahrain guarantees freedom of religion, hosting churches, synagogues, Hindu temples and mosques
In Bahrain, a prime example of religious diversity in the Middle East, the largest Catholic church in the Gulf region was inaugurated earlier this week.
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia can accommodate over 2,000 worshipers and sits on approximately 97,000 feet of land donated by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
In an interview with i24NEWSHE Dr. Shaikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa noted that it is not uncommon for the kingdom to provide land to the Catholic community in Bahrain.
“The first Catholic church was built about 81 years ago,” he said.
Bahrain’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion, as the kingdom is home to mosques, churches, a 200-year-old Hindu temple, and a synagogue.
According to the Pew Research Center, there are more than two million Catholics in the Middle East.
In Bahrain, most of the approximately 80,000 Catholics are expatriates from Asia, India and Western countries.
Khalid bin Khalifa, chairman of the board of the King Hamad Global Center for Peaceful Coexistence, added that freedom of religion is not new to the kingdom.
“It’s been around for over 200 years. All rulers… respected all religions.
In the Gulf State, communities of different religious views share mutual respect in their daily interactions.
The president added that Bahrainis are brought up to “respect the religions of others”.
“All communities [in Manama] – Jews, Muslims, Sunnis, Shiites, Hindus, Christians – are supported. “
“This is what makes Bahrain unique. We all live in a very small region… Bahrainis are very well educated about other religions, ”he said.