Bahrain is an explicitly Islamic monarchy where Islam is the state religion and the main source of legislation is Islamic religious law. Currently, its official blasphemy prohibitions are milder than many neighboring nations: insulting recognized religious groups can come with fines and/or imprisonment of up to one year. A majority of the population is Muslim, about 70%.

History of Blasphemy & Apostasy Laws

Being part of the Arabian Peninsula, the lands that encompass Bahrain were Islamized early, beginning in the time of the Prophet Muhammad. In the succeeding centuries, various Islamic empires exercised control over the region, and Islamic political rule is a condition which has remained largely constant throughout the region's history, with the exceptions of a Portuguese occupation which lasted most of the sixteenth century and a period beginning in the late nineteenth century where Bahrain was a de facto British protectorate.

The current state of Bahrain declared independence from the British in 1971. It was out of this new independence that the penal code, still serving as the basis for Bahraini legislation, emerged. This penal code establishes a penalty of up to one year's imprisonment and/or a fine for "offence[s] by any methods of expression against" a recognized religious group. In comparison with some of its neighbors, therefore, Bahrain's blasphemy law is, on paper, on the milder side, though still highly problematic.

The country's first constitution was enacted in 1973, and the current constitution governing the country dates from 2002. It stipulates that Bahrain is an explicitly Islamic country, where Islam is the state religion and the main source of legislation is Islamic law. This is in keeping with its historical legacy of Islamic practice and rule.

Cases of Persecution in Bahrain
Members of Shia religious society convicted of blasphemy, receive one-year jail sentence
Shia cleric Abdul Nabi al-Nashaba arrested and imprisoned for "contempt of a sect"
Ali Mohammed Saeed Jassim given year in prison after "urgent" social media blasphemy trial
Bahraini journalist Faisal Hayat imprisoned and tortured for blasphemous tweet
Cleric Mohammed al-Madhi given year in prison for blaspheming Muhammad's companions
19-year-old blogger sentenced to two years in prison for insulting Aisha