PEOPLE insulting Bahrain's King could face up to five years in prison.
It comes as parliament yesterday approved an amendment to the Penal Code, which could also fine offenders up to BD10,000.
The proposal was made earlier this year by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ghanim Al Buainain during his tenure as MP.
It aims to prevent people from insulting the King and to exercise a stronger grip on the rule of law.
The punishment could also be doubled if the King has been insulted in his presence.
The proposal will now be studied by the government and referred as a law to the National Assembly.
"The legislation has come at the right time and despite it being delayed for a while, bringing it now has great significance on how some act or react," said parliament services committee vice-chairman and Independent Bloc chairman Abdulla Bin Howai.
Parliament legislative and legal affairs committee vice-chairman Khamis Al Rumaihi claimed that respecting the head of state was a religious duty.
"Islamic principles encourages us to respect our leaders and not degrade them because they are the representatives of the nation and their pride is ours," he explained.
However, some MPs wanted to increase the punishment up to 10 years in a bid to ensure nobody would insult the head of state.
They also said the amendment to the law could have been avoided if the government had stopped people when they initially chanted against the police and judiciary which then encouraged them to direct their chants towards His Majesty King Hamad.
"It was the lenient approach by authorities that has led to the King being insulted. This punishment is fine though we had asked for more," said parliament financial and economic affairs committee vice-chairman Abdulhakeem Al Shemri.
MP Shaikh Jawad Buhussain said that attacks on King Hamad were unacceptable, particularly when his speeches have always been about moderation and forgiveness.
"This great man is the symbol of the nation's unity and honestly this country has not yet seen a better leader capable of running it," he added.