Bahrain police have questioned and charged a 54-year-old woman on charges of vandalism and defamation for destroying Hindu idols.
Rabat – Police in Bahrain questioned a 54-year-old woman after a video showing her destroying Hindu idols in a shop went viral. The video shows a Muslim woman shouting at a shop attendant, apparently angry to see Hindu idols on sale in Bahrain. “This is a Muslim country,” the woman yelled at the store clerk as she grabbed and smashed several statues of different sizes. The event took place in the Juffair neighborhood of Manama.
Within hours, the video of the event went viral. Thousands of Indian social media users expressed their outrage over the apparent desecration of a Hindu religious symbol. Bahrain’s authorities were quick to act. Prominent royal advisor Khalid al-Khalifa released a statement on Twitter shortly after the video of the woman in Bahrain vandalizing the Hindu idols began trending.
“Breaking religious symbols is not the character of the people of Bahrain,” al-Khalifa stated. “It is a crime that expresses an extraneous and rejected hatred. Here, all religions, sects and peoples coexisted.” The royal advisor also indicated that authorities already knew the woman in question.
Bahrain’s interior ministry announced on Sunday that the woman will be charged with damaging a shop and defaming a sect and its rituals. Police called the woman in to a local police station for questioning, where she admitted her actions.
The statues depicted the Hindu god Ganesh, one of the prominent deities in Hinduism. In the Hindu religion, small statues can be used as a “Murti,” a representation of a deity used in worship. The act of vandalism in Bahrain came at a sensitive time. Next week will mark Ganesh Chaturthi, a large Hindu festival that sees the clay idols displayed in homes and in elaborate public processions.
Bahrain has a large Hindu population, estimated to be almost 10% of the total population. Bahrain, like many GCC countries, relies heavily on foreign workers from South Asia but resentment between local Muslim and Hindu communities has been on the rise. Many GCC nations have indicated they aim to reduce their expat populations in favor of employing native youth.
Indian foreign workers often face poor living conditions and discrimination in the Gulf. In India, the majority Hindu population is becoming increasingly intolerant and violent towards its own Muslim and Christian minorities. The woman’s destruction of Hindu idols exemplifies a growing trend while both India and Bahrain also grapple with the COVID-19 crisis.