The King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa, has donated a land for the construction of the second Coptic church in the Kingdom, Agenzia Fides reports.
The new place of worship will be built in the capital Manama and will serve an estimated 1,500 Coptic families living in Bahrain and neighboring Saudi Arabia.
According to Coptic Orthodox priest Royce George, the new building will become a point of reference for the liturgies and pastoral activities of the Orthodox Coptic community.
The donation was announced following a meeting between King Hamad and Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II, in Egypt last April. At the meeting, the King had praised Bahrain’s “religious tolerance”, despite claims to the contrary from international organizations.
International groups criticized King Hamad for the Kingdom’s discrimination against the Shia Muslim majority. In September, the monarch dissolved the Shiite opposition movement al-Wefaq, RT reports. Right advocates denounced the move, saying it was the Kingdom’s crackdown on dissent.
In 2013, King Hamad donated to the Catholic Church an area of 9,000 sqm in the municipalty of Awali. In the spring of 2014, the construction of the Catholic Cathedral of the Kingdom started and it was dedicate to Our Lady of Arabia.
Premier. (2016). Premier. http://www.premier.org.uk/News/World/King-of-Bahrain-permits-country-s-second-church
Wwwrtcom. (2016). RT International. https://www.rt.com/news/360295-bahrain-outcry-shiite-opposition/