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Obama UN speech irks Bahraini regime

The Manama regime has lashed out at US President Barack Obama for what he described during his UN speech as 'sectarian tensions' in Bahrain. In his address to the 68th annual Session of UN General Assembly on September 24, Obama likened the situation in Bahrain to that of Iraq and Syria, saying that Washington will make "efforts to resolve" what he called "sectarian tensions" in these countries. The US president's remarks drew angry reactions from the Manama regime's high-ranking authorities. On Thursday, Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al Khalifa expressed anger over the remarks, claiming the kingdom fostered a culture of tolerance between its various communities. Bahraini Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid bin Abdallah Al Khalifa also said in a statement late on Wednesday that Manama has "never witnessed at any time sectarian tensions." Bahraini Ambassador to the UN Houda Nonoo said on a website attributed to her that she was "disappointed to hear him [Obama] compare the situation in Bahrain to that of the current situation in Iraq and the unfolding tragedies in Syria." Manama's human rights record has come under scrutiny over its handling of anti-regime protests that erupted across the Arab country in early 2011. On September 9, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) that she was frustrated with reports of human rights violations in Bahrain. She called on Manama "to fully comply with its international human rights commitments, including respect for the rights to freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association.



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