Next week, the United Kingdom’s Prince William and Catherine Middleton will tie the knot, in a wedding that has graced the cover of newspapers across the world. One study from technology specialist firm Greenlight found that the wedding receives one mention online every ten seconds, and online search engine and news source Yahoo! brags that Internet searches about the royal wedding soared “eight million percent overall” since the couple announced their wedding.
One of the most-covered aspects of the wedding is its guest list. Included among the coveted list are singer-songwriter Elton John and actor Rowan Atkinson of “Mr. Bean” fame.
However, one name on the guest list is stirring up controversy. Al Jazeera English reports that Bahraini human rights activists — who are facing a brutal crackdown in the country that has killed or disappeared hundreds following a nonviolent pro-democracy uprising — are outraged that Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, is among the 40 foreign royals invited to attend the wedding:
Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, was one of more than 40 foreign royals invited to attend the British royals’ wedding in Westminster Abbey on Friday. Human rights advocates were quick to condemn the decision to invite al-Khalifa to the ceremony.
Najib Rajab, president of Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, told Al Jazeera that protesters were expecting the British to take a “tough stance,” rather than invite those accused of grievous human rights abuses to the high-profile celebrations. “Calling our crown prince at a time when people are being killed … for demanding their political rights and peacefully protesting, is extremely disappointing,” he said in a phone interview. “They’re losing the hearts and minds of the people in this region.”
Watch Al Jazeera English’s report about activists protesting the invitation of the Crown Prince:
It was the Crown Prince himself that was widely regarded as the Bahraini figure who invited Saudi troops into the country to help violently put down the student-led movement for democracy.
The Bahraini government’s latest tactic it is using against its nonviolent protest movement is to target Shi’a mosques for destruction. Some reports indicated that dozens of places of worship have been destroyed by al-Khalifa’s government. Earlier this month, a Bahraini captured a picture of a man praying in the ruins of one mosque ordered demolished by the government:
By inviting al-Khalifa, Kate and William may be sending a message to the world that the British monarchy is indifferent to the atrocities being committed by the Bahraini monarchy. The famed couple should consider whether this is the message it wants to send.
Facing an international pressure campaign, al-Khalifa backed away from his earlier intent today and will no longer be attending the wedding.