A woman in Bahrain has been charged with criminal damage and publicly insulting religious idols after she was filmed smashing Hindu statues in a shop in the Juffair district of the capital, Manama.
The 54-year-old woman was summoned for questioning after the video appeared on social media showing her picking up the statues one by one and smashing them angrily while asking the shop worker: “This is a Muslim country, right? Why is this here? … Does Hamad Bin Isa [the King of Bahrain] accept this?”
On camera, the unnamed woman forcefully threw five statues on to the ground, breaking at least three.
Under questioning, the 54-year-old confessed to smashing the Hindu statues, according to the Public Prosecution, and will be tried in court on an unknown date.
She will face charges of intentional criminal damage as well as publicly insulting and desecrating items associated with a religious faith, Bahrain’s Interior Ministry said.
Former Foreign Minister and diplomatic adviser to the king of Bahrain, Sheikh Khalid Al Khalifa, tweeted his condemnation of the women’s actions, saying: “Breaking of religious symbols is not the nature of the people of Bahrain. It is a crime… of hatred and is rejected. Here [in Bahrain], all religions, sects and people coexist, whoever does it is a stranger and not one of us.”
The incident has sparked widespread condemnation on social media with users noting Bahrain hosts hundreds of thousands of religiously diverse migrant workers, mostly from Asia.
In fact, foreign workers in Bahrain number approximately 600,000, according to a report by the European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights and make up nearly 55 per cent of the Gulf state’s workforce.
Of Bahrain’s migrant workers, Indians, many of whom follow the Hindu faith, are the most populous single nationality.
Only last year, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi committed to donating $4 million to Bahrain to renovate the Sree Krishna temple in the capital, Manama.
Modi, however, has been criticised for his anti-Muslim policies at home, where the plight of Indian-administered Kashmir, which has faced a year-long clamp down causing widespread economic and social damage, is an ongoing issue.