MANAMA (Dispatches) – A senior Bahraini official and member of the ruling Al Khalifa family has been dismissed for refusing to shake hands with the Zionist regime’s ambassador to the country.
Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammed Al-Khalifa, who is the President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities was reportedly sacked by order of King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa according to a report by Rai Al-Youm.
Mai is said to have refused to shake hands with Eitan Na’eh, the regime’s ambassador to Manama, during a funeral service for the father of U.S. ambassador Steven C Bondy last month.
She also reportedly left the funeral service upon learning of Na’eh’s presence and requested that the U.S. embassy should not publish any pictures of her attending the event.
Bahraini sources have revealed that the king did not wait for Mai to return from her official visit in Albania to dismiss her. She was swiftly replaced by Khalifa bin Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa.
Sheikha Mai has carried out official duties for more than 20 years. She previously served as the Bahraini information minister, the first woman to hold the office.
She also served as Bahrain’s culture minister and was named the sixth most powerful Arab woman of 2014 in a list compiled by Forbes Middle East.
Lately, Shaikha Mai reportedly opposed plans aimed at Judaization of Old Manama neighborhoods, such as Bab al-Bahrain in the central business district of Manama, and al-Mutanabbi Avenue.
On November 30 last year, Shaikha Mai hosted Israeli historian and socialist activist Ilan Pappé, who stresses on “the ethnic cleansing of Palestine”, and is opposed to the ongoing occupation policies in the Palestinian territories conquered by the Zionist regime in 1967, and the prevention of the return of Palestinian refugees expelled during and after the 1948 Nakba, at the Sheikh Ibrahim Center.
The Gaza-based Palestinian resistance groups praised Sheikha Mai’s refusal to shake hands with the Zionist ambassador.
Tariq Salmi, a spokesman for the Islamic Jihad movement, said in a press statement that his group voices solidarity with the former Bahraini minister, stressing that she took a practical and bold decision in rejection of normalization with the occupying regime and did not care about possible consequences, and her action was an embodiment of the true will of free Palestinian men and women.
The Palestinian Mujahideen Movement hailed Shaikha Mai’s decision, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) called on all Arab peoples, including the Bahraini nation, to fiercely oppose normalization with the occupying regime.