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Ex-Iraqi PM: Al-Khalifa Leading Bahrain towards Religious Tensions

21 June 2016 19:06

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Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki condemned the al-Khalifa regime for its decision to strip Shiite cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Qassim of citizenship, and said the Bahraini government is leading the country towards sectarian strife.

“Revoking citizenship of a person like Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Qassim who was born and lives in Bahrain is a dangerous action pushing Bahrain into religious tensions,” Maliki said in a statement on Tuesday.

He warned of consequences of the measure for al-Khalifa regime, and called on Manama to give up its decision in a bid to safeguard Bahrain’s unity and continue respect for religious leaders.

“If the Bahraini officials don’t abide by these principles, then the Bahraini nation will act upon its legitimate rights,” Maliki said.

Bahrain’s Interior Ministry announced in an statement on Monday the country’s top Shiite cleric was stripped of his citizenship.

After the announcement, Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, on Monday called on the people of Bahrain to express anger at the government’s decision to strip a leading cleric of his citizenship, and said it would bring severe consequences to the country’s leadership.

Hezbollah said the move against Ayatollah Issa Qassim, “pushes the Bahraini people to difficult choices which will have severe consequences for this corrupt dictatorial regime”.

It added that it showed the Bahraini government had reached “the end of the road” in dealing with what it called a peaceful, popular movement.

In a statement, Hezbollah called on the people of Bahrain “to express its anger and rage decisively” because it undermined the cleric’s symbolic position.

The latest move by the Bahrain regime against the country’s main opposition figures came as the al-Khalifa regime is exerting mounting pressure on the opposition.

Opposition members feel the government is willing to accelerate its crackdown on dissent because it believes it will only face minimal censure through statements of concern in the US and Europe. Both the US and UK have large naval bases in Bahrain.

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