Culture

Main articles: Culture of Bahrain and Music of Bahrain Shi'a Muslims in Bahrain strike their chests during the Remembrance of Muharram. Bahrain is sometimes described as "Middle East lite"[127] due to its combination of modern infrastructure with a Persian Gulf identity. While Islam is the main religion, Bahrainis are known for their tolerance towards the practice of other faiths.[citation needed] It is too early to say whether political liberalisation under King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has augmented or undermined Bahrain's traditional pluralism.[original research?] The new political space for Shia and Sunni Islamists has meant that they are now more able to pursue programs that often seek to directly confront this pluralism.[original research?] At the same time, political reforms have encouraged an opposite trend whereby society becomes more self-critical and shows a greater willingness to examine previous social taboos.[citation needed] In common with the rest of the Muslim world, though Bahrain has take strong strides for women's rights, it does not recognise lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights.[citation needed] Another facet of the new openness is Bahrain's status as the most prolific book publisher in the Arab world, with 132 books published in 2005 for a population of 700,000. In comparison, the 2005 average for the entire Arab world was seven books published per one million people, according to the United Nations Development Programme.[128] Ali Bahar is the most famous singer in Bahrain. He performs his music with his Band Al-Ekhwa (The Brothers).