The King of Bahrain, Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa, has said he is willing to help 200 Christian families forced from their homes in Mosul, according to a senior Church official in the region.
Bishop Camillo Ballin, Vicar Apostolic of Northern Arabia (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia) said in a recent interview with Vatican Radio that the monarch was not only willing to assist the families but also receive them in Bahrain.
“This shows his generosity towards Christians,” the Bahrain-based bishop said.
The monarch visited Pope Francis earlier this year, during which he presented plans for a new Marian cathedral in the country. King Hamad has said he is donating 9,000 square metres for the construction of the cathedral on his territory.
Bishop Ballin said that, for now, “this tragic situation” of persecution against Christians by Islamic State militants “hasn’t yet reached us,” adding that people in the region are opposed to the Islamist group.
“Muslim reaction is against ISIS,” he said. “All Muslims are against them, especially the moderates. Even the fundamentalists have not referred to them positively and I have not found statements supporting ISIS in Bahrain or Kuwait or elsewhere.”
He said Arab governments are treading carefully for political reasons. They are asking themselves: “What does the Islamic State want? What is its purpose? Is its purpose really about Islam, or are its origins really a political movement? Who supports it?
The bishop said ISIS wish for a return to the caliphate is “pure imagination, fantasy, because it will never be accepted by any Arab country.”
The Vicar Apostolic moved from Kuwait to Bahrain a year ago, but King Hamad has already given him a Bahraini passport. When the bishop went to collect it, the king was there to personally present it to him.
However, there has been opposition to his move to allow the construction of the new cathedral. In 2012, more than 70 clerics signed a petition against it.