Global Freedom of Expression

Sheikh Maytham Al Salman

Sheikh Maytham Al Salman is a Shia cleric from Bahrain. An internationally respected inter-faith leader and a renowned thought leader, Maytham Al Salman advocates for peaceful coexistence and mutual respect between cultures, religions and sects.

Sheikh Maytham Al Salman is the founding member and current coordinator of the Middle East and North Africa Civil Society Coalition to Counter Incitement to Hatred; a multi-stakeholder platform, established in April 2015, that is dedicated to ending incitement to violence, hostility, and discrimination. The Coalition monitors, analyses and reports on incitement speech across the region, and promotes interventions to counter such incitement.

Maytham is the director of Bahrain Inter-Faith, a non-profit organization seeking to prevent religious and social discrimination and sectarianism, and working to encourage and support interfaith dialogue.

Maytham serves on a committee of the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, advising the Office on the role of religious leaders in preventing incitement that could lead to atrocity crimes. He is also an expert associated with Columbia University Global Freedom of Expression, an initiative established by Columbia University President and first amendment scholar Lee Bollinger, to explore, and promote global norms on the protection of freedom of expression.

Maytham Al Salman is also a member of a number of inter-faith international initiatives, including the International Council for Religious Dialogue, the International Commission for Religious Freedom, the International Religious Committee for Cooperation with the United Nations and the World Association of religious tolerance. He is an active participant and contributor to human rights forums, including the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Forum for the Rights of Minorities. He has spoken at the World Economic Forum, the World Forum of Religious Tolerance, the International Conference for Cultural Diplomacy, the International Conference for Interreligious Dialogue and the World Conference Dialogue among Civilizations, the International Conference for Islamic Unity.

Above all, Sheikh Maytham is an advocate for equal rights, tolerance and the end of discrimination, including in his own country of Bahrain. In 2011, in punishment for his advocacy, he was arrested, detained for several months and was tortured as were a number of other human rights defenders, some of whom are still in prison.