Posted on October 14, 2010
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, Bahrain's first female ambassador to the United States, discussed the importance of international ties and fielded questions from audience members during a visit to Bridgewater State University hosted by the Middle Eastern Studies program.
Ms. Nonoo described Bahrain, an island nation off the coast of Saudi Arabia, as a bridge between diverse cultures, specifically between the Middle East and the United States. "Throughout our history, we have become a place where East meets West," she told the near capacity crowd in the Moakley Center Auditorium.
Bahrain's ties to the United States date back to 1893, when the American Missionary Association established a school in the country for teaching English and Arabic. The school "transformed the country's education system, economy and workforce," said Ms. Nonoo, adding, "it helped pave the way for a better Bahrain."
Ms. Nonoo said Bahrain's diplomatic relationships with the United States and other countries will continue to help the nation grow socially and economically. "The road ahead is one of promise," she said.Nasreen Shibli
, a field education specialist in the Department of Social Work, asked the ambassador where Bahrain stands on women's rights. Ms. Nonoo said her country has long supported gender equality as well as religious and political freedom. "It's always been an open society," she said.
Prompted by a student to share her thoughts on the violent conflict between the Shi'a and Sunni religious factions in the Middle East, Ms. Nonoo said the terrorists in each group represent "a small population who politicize religion and try to destabilize their countries."
In concluding her thoughts on the religious schism, the diplomat said, "We are all people -- we need to be able to live together." (Story and photo by Rob Matheson, Office of Institutional Communications)