18 November 2016, London: Members of the Bahraini Jewish community in the United Kingdom celebrated 200 years of friendship between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the United Kingdom in an event held at the House of Commons sponsored by Conor Burns MP, Chairman of the Bahrain All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG).
H.E. Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohamed Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, opened the well-attended evening with a speech and paid tribute to his guests noting that wherever they may be, their connection to Bahrain is permanent and indissoluble. He stated, “I’m delighted to be celebrating this historic relationship this year in particular, as we also celebrate 200 years of friendship with the UK.”
Conor Burns spoke of Bahrain’s religious tolerance, on the occasion that marked the International Day of Tolerance : “I know Bahrain is very proud of its religious inclusiveness. The freedom of religious practice, guaranteed by its national constitution and laws, is for all citizens and residents alike. I welcome the Jewish community’s gesture in celebrating our 200 years of friendship.”
Speakers at the event also included H.E. Mrs. Houda Nonoo, Bahrain’s former Ambassador to the United States of America and the Arab world’s first Jewish Ambassador, and H.E. Mrs. Nancy Khedouri, member of the Bahraini Shura Council, who both reflected on their personal and professional experiences as Bahrainis belonging to the Jewish faith. They emphasised the social harmony, diversity and religious tolerance that defines Bahraini culture.
H.E. Mrs. Nonoo thanked the community and Conor Burns for organising such a unique event. She said: “I am always proud to celebrate the accomplishments of my country and the level of social cohesion that includes coexistence and religious toleration which my grandparents, my generation and future generations will always embrace. Bahrain is an inclusive country that gives opportunities for everybody of any race, creed and gender.”
“In a message on the International Day for Tolerance this week, His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa said: ‘Our beloved country was built on the values of tolerance, openness, love and coexistence, which has made it an oasis of peace for all religions creeds and ethnicities, and all our generations have been particularly proud of this achievement. Our pride in the tolerance of Bahrain’s society can be seen in its people, in the coexistence of the mosques, churches and Hindu and Jewish temples. This is a unique sight that has remained over several centuries in Bahrain as the visible sign of tolerance and a source of great pride to us.'”
H.E. Mrs. Khedouri spoke of her experience as a female legislator of the Jewish faith sitting in the Shura Council.
“This event is very special as it marks the 200th anniversary of UK-Bahrain friendship, and is a celebration of Bahrain’s religious freedom. The citizens of Bahrain of all religions stand united and share a common value; that whatever one’s religion is, it is implemented respectfully.”
Guests enjoyed their meal in the unique and historic setting of the House of Commons. The event bought together generations of the close Jewish community who have their roots in Bahrain. The Cohen, Fattal, Khedouri, Murad, Nonoo, Sweiry, and Yadgar families were represented.