Al-Menbar Islamic Society

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Al-Menbar Islamic Society
جمعية المنبر الوطني الإسلامي
Leader Ali Ahmed Abdulla
Ideology Sunni Islamism
Religion Sunni Islam
International affiliation Muslim Brotherhood
Council of Representatives
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Shura Council
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Politics of Bahrain
Political parties
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Al Menbar National Islamic Society (Arabic: جمعية المنبر الوطني الإسلامي‎, literally "Islamic National Tribune") is the political wing of the Al Eslah Society in Bahrain, associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. A Sunni Islamist party, it is well organised through a network of mosques and seek to promote a conservative social agenda while not directly challenging the Kingdom's government. The party won four seats in Bahrain's 2006 general election, down from eight seats in 2002.

At times, Al Menbar has seemed significantly more liberal than either the pro-business Independent Bloc and the salafist Asalah, particularly in its opposition to proposed legislation that it argues would restrict freedom of assembly. MP Mohammed Khalid's forthright expression of views has attracted controversy particularly over his campaigns against the filming of Big Brother in Bahrain, to ban a concert by Lebanese singer, Nancy Ajram and his support for insurgents fighting US forces in Fallujah, whom he described as 'heroes'. This led to objections from Shia Islamist MPs that he was interfering in Iraq's internal affairs. In February 2006, Al Menbar led parliament's refusal to ratify the government's signature of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, with the party's president, Dr Salah Abdulrahman, explaining, "[The Convention] means that Muslims could convert to another religion, something against the Islamic law, since those who do so should be beheaded."[1]

One of the party's politicians tipped for further success is Dr Salah Al Jowder who is Muharraq council's head of public relations. After announcing his candidature for 2006's parliamentary elections, Mr Al Jowder unveiled the council's latest initiative to deal with peeping toms: all new buildings in the municipality have to be fitted with one way windows [1].[dead link] While the municipal council does not have the authority to enforce this regulation as law, Dr Al Jowder said that the council does have the ability to cut off electricity to anyone that does not comply.

On the issue of women's political rights in Bahrain, Al Menbar MP Dr Ali Ahmed told the Bahrain Tribune (26 January 2006):

Granting women their political rights is not against Islamic precepts. Women should be motivated to achieve their aspirations and contribute to the Kingdom’s development. We support women’s political empowerment and want to field the best women who can win. We believe that having a female head of state or president is against religious regulations, but any post below that is open to women.[citation needed]

In 2006's general election, the party promised to field several female candidates, with eye specialist Dr Haifa Al Mahmood apparently selected; however after an electoral pact was worked out with Asalah, which opposes women candidates, Al Menbar produced an all male list of candidates. The party has though backed women's rights activists' campaign for the introduction of a unified personal status law, which was vehermently opposed by Shia Islamists.

In 2006's election they have worked out a deal with the Salafist Asalah to avoid splitting the Sunni Islamist vote.


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