(Nov. 19, 2010) On October 21, 2010, the Bahraini Ministry of Homeland Security began enforcing a royal decree issued in 1999 that bans the use of all types of microphones attached to mosques. Muslim clerics in Bahrain have been shouting through microphones to announce the Muslim prayers. The purpose of the law is to prevent mosques from being a public nuisance. The law punishes violators with a fine of no less than 100 Bahraini dinars (about US$265) and no more than 500 dinars (about US$1,326). In the event of a repeat offense, the law imposes the penalty of imprisonment against violators.
The enforcement of the law has generated a rigorous debate among Muslim scholars in the kingdom, especially among Shi'a Muslims. Shi'a clerics in Bahrain accused the Bahraini authorities of using the initiative to suppress the Shi'a movement. The Bahraini government dismissed this accusation and issued a statement indicating that the law was being enforced to protect public order and the right of Bahraini citizens to live in a calm environment free of unnecessary disturbances. The statement added that Islamic Sharia'a (law) protects the rights of individuals and prohibits mosques from being public nuisances. (A Debate in Bahrain About the Ban of Microphones Attached to Mosques [in Arabic], AL SHARQ AL AWSAT (Oct. 21, 2010), http://aawsat.com/details.asp?section=4&issueno=11650&article=59