Revoking Qassim’s citizenship

Punishing citizens who commit crimes is better than revoking their citizenship and deporting them

Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Abdulrahman al-Rashed
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Punishing citizens who commit crimes is better than revoking their citizenship and deporting them, because it deprives them of an external platform and unsettles external forces. It also gives the state the right to try them. However, some believe revoking citizenship is a legal step to rejecting the actions of certain citizens and avoiding legal responsibilities arising from their actions, especially abroad. It is also a method to intimidate and deter others.

This is what Saudi Arabia did when it revoked the citizenship of Osama bin Laden in the 1990s. Many criticized the kingdom at the time, including Western governments and institutions, but nearly five years later, after the Sept. 11 attacks, it turned out that what Riyadh did was right, and his crimes were proof of that.

Revoking citizenship has become acceptable for those searching for legal solutions against extremist groups. It is believed that this will frighten extremist leaders who promote violence while enjoying the benefits of the country in which they seek to spread chaos.

Many countries resort to revoking citizenship as a sanction, especially from naturalized citizens or those with dual nationalities. In the United States, revoking citizenship is raised not only against terrorists, but also those who help them. Australia, Singapore, India and Israel also revoke citizenship.

Isa Qassim is a religious man who leads opposition practices against the Bahraini state, like hundreds of other clerics in the Arab world who were lured by the experience of Iran, where the clergy succeeded in dominating power.

I do not know a Muslim cleric, Sunni or Shiite, among political activists who believes in freedom of expression and the rights of those who disagree with them. The theorists of Islamic religious parties have nothing to do with their own practices or even their internal constitutions.

Bahrain’s religious opposition does not believe in rights and freedoms unless they fall within the framework of the opposition’s rights and freedoms. Its preferred model of rule is Iranian theocracy.

Some will say this is the case for Saudi Arabia and most of the region’s countries that do not abide by democracy and are against political pluralism. This is true, but these countries do not say their democratic or liberal rule is based on the Western model.

Revoking citizenship has become acceptable for those searching for legal solutions against extremist groups

Abdulrahman al-Rashed


Bahrain’s opposition says it wants to replace the tolerant monarchy with a Shiite extremist political regime affiliated with Tehran. Most probably it will give up the sovereignty of the state and become a subsidiary of Iran.

When Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Quds Force, threatened Bahrain’s government with an armed operation in the event of revoking Isa Qassim’s citizenship, he harmed him and reinforced Bahrain’s stance. This is not an opposition that the government can disagree with in the framework of the national interest, but rather a religious group following Iran. Hezbollah’s statements against Bahrain were also threatening.

We hope that Bahrain gets out of this long crisis, through which Iran has been trying for more than a decade to dominate Bahrain’s opposition political activity. The opposition must not accept the invitation to violence, sectarianism and protection from a foreign regime, or else this will justify the interference of any authority in the region to face them by force.

Iran is the last country to have the right to defend the rights of any group under any pretext. Iranian authorities have detained for the past five years advocates of peaceful change: Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife Zahra Rahnniferd. They also detain dozens of opposition members like Isa Qassim. Are Bahrain’s decisions based on sectarianism? It revoked the citizenship of 13 Sunni extremists in a week.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on June 23, 2016.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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