Bahraini Jews mark Kristallnacht

Manama (AFP) –


Bahraini Jews marked on Monday the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht, also known as the Night of Broken Glass, for the first time since the Arab nation normalised ties with Israel last month.

The disused synagogue in Manama -- the only one in the kingdom, which is home to some 50 Bahraini Jews -- was illuminated at night "to shine light over the darkness of hate", organisers said.

It is the first commemoration of its kind in Muslim-majority Bahrain, since it followed the United Arab Emirate's example earlier this year and agreed to normalise ties with Israel in a US-brokered deal.

Kristallnacht marks the 1938 torching and ransacking of synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses across Germany by Nazi mobs.

It is held this year under the "Let There Be Light" hashtag, a global virtual campaign against anti-semitism, racism, intolerance and hatred, organisers International March of the Living said.

Ebrahim Nonoo, head of Bahrain's Jewish community, said the synagogue in Manama has not been functional since 1948 but plans are underway to renovate it and re-open it to worshippers next year.

"We have had a long history of connection with Jewish people, but we are Bahrainis first," he told AFP.

Nonoo, a former member of the consultative Shura Council, said it was a "great honour" for his community to take part in Monday's event.

The UAE and Bahrain became the third and fourth Arab states to establish relations with Israel, following Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. Sudan has also followed suit.

Nonoo said there are very "interesting prospects" that can come out of the normalisation of ties with Israel.

"It's good for tourism, both ways," he said.

"The hotels, already, have prepared themselves for kosher foods," he said, adding that the eventual arrival of Israeli tourists will help keep the synagogue open.