“Not a Part of Our Nature”: Bahrain Takes Swift Action Against Women Who Destroyed Ganpati Idols

Social Commentary

“Not a Part of Our Nature”: Bahrain Takes Swift Action Against Women Who Destroyed Ganpati Idols

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

A video went viral on social media on Sunday, where a burqa-clad woman is throwing Ganpati idols on the floor of a supermarket in Bahrain.

In the video, one can see two women standing near an aisle where idols of Lord Ganesha are kept for display ahead of Ganesh Chaturthi. One of the women starts throwing the idols on the floor one by one, shattering them into pieces. The other woman records the incident on her phone. “This is a Muslim country, correct?” the woman is heard saying to the man in the shop. “Let us see who will worship these statues. Call the cops,” the other woman said.

The incident took place inside a souvenir store in Manama’s area of Juffair. The Bahraini police said they had taken legal action against the woman. The Ministry of Interior of Bahrain tweeted, “Capital Police took legal steps against a woman, 54, for damaging a shop in Juffair and defaming a sect and its rituals, in order to refer her to the Public Prosecution.”

“Destroying religious symbols is not part of the nature of the Bahraini people,” royal adviser Khaled bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said.

The video drew immediate and sharp reactions on social media. “This is not at all acceptable. If you love your religion, doesn’t mean you disrespect other religions,” said Ketan Sawant.

Columnist Tarek Fateh described it as “tyranny that passes for tolerance.”

Some wished better wisdom on the women, stating that, “Ganpati Bappa is the lord of fortune, wisdom, good luck and prosperity. May the ladies involved in the act realise their mistake.”

Many hailed the country for taking swift action.

“And we put the Babri Masjid criminals in government with the biggest ever mandate,” pointed out one user.

Many users, including Indians who have been living in the Middle East, pointed out that Bahrain was one of the more liberal societies in the gulf region and the blind hatred of the country based on one incident was uncalled for.

“Bahrain has a very liberal view on religious freedom. This lady is an aberration and not the norm,” tweeted another user.

Foreigners account for over half of Bahrain’s total population of 1.7 million. And while such incidents are deeply tragic, what matters is that swift action is taken and it is not normalised in society. On social media, we all have a responsibility to not perpetuate this hate further based on stray incidents, taking place in a society we know little of. The last thing we need in the middle of a pandemic, is more religious polarisation.