2016: Bahrain, Maytham Al-Salman

Norwegian PEN calls on the authorities of Bahrain to drop charges against human rights defender Maytham Al-Salman for exercising his right to freedom of expression.

Minister of Interior
Lieutenant General Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa

Minister of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowment
H.E. Shaikh Khalid bin Ali bin Abdulla Al Khalifa

And Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations in Geneva

Oslo, 13.08.2016

Your Excellences,

Norwegian PEN calls on the authorities of Bahrain to drop charges against human rights defender Maytham Al-Salman for exercising his right to freedom of expression.

Dr. Maytham Al-Salman is an international speaker who has been playing a positive role in bridging good relationships between cultures and religions.

On the 8th of August he was arrested at Manama airport, returning to Bahrain after attending a UN conference, and charged with ‘inciting hatred against the system of government’ and ‘disseminating false news’. He was released, but charges against him still stand, and a travel ban is in effect. Now he has been called for interrogations on Sunday, the 14th of August, and it is reason to fear the worse.

Bahraini human rights defenders risk intimidation and imprisonment on politically-motivated grounds. Bahrain is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2016 and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2016.

Al-Salman is the head of the Religious Freedom unit at the Bahrain Human Rights Observatory, the founding member and current coordinator of the Middle East and North Africa Civil Society Coalition to Counter Incitement to Hatred and the Director of Bahrain Inter-Faith, a non-profit organization seeking to prevent religious and social discrimination and sectarianism, and working to encourage and support interfaith dialogue.

Al-Salman also serves on a committee of the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect. He has several publications in international journals, and published a book after the terror act in September 11th 2001 called «Non-Muslims in the Eyes of Islam».

Al-Salman is an international spokesperson on anti-extremism and anti-violence, and an important driving force in the strengthening of positive relations between cultures and religions. Norwegian PEN strongly condemn the targeting and prosecution of Al-Salman and other writers, journalists and human rights defenders. We call on the Government of Bahrain to end the judicial harassment of Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman, and to drop all charges against him.

Yours sincerely,

Ms Brit Bildøen
Chair of Writers in Prison Committee Norwegian PEN

COPY: The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs