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Bahrain Summons 6 Senior Opposition Clerics for Interrogation

24 June 2016 18:21

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Bahraini officials summoned six opposition clerics for interrogations amid international backlash to its decision to strip the country’s prominent religious scholar Sheikh Isa Qassim of his nationality.

“Head of Bahrain’s Council of Shiite Scholars Sheikh Fadel al-Zaki along with five other senior Shiite figures, was called to the Budaya police station west of the capital, Manama,” the Arabic-language media outlets quoted activists as saying Thursday.

It is not clear why Sheikh al-Zaki has been summoned, but reports say it could be related to the speeches he recently delivered at gatherings in front of the home of Sheikh Qassim.

The summons came after a Bahraini court began hearing a Justice Ministry petition to suspend the activities of the kingdom’s main Shiite opposition bloc the al-Wefaq National Society following a court order last week.

On Monday, Bahrain’s Interior Ministry accused the tiny island’s most prominent Shia cleric of seeking the “creation of a sectarian environment” through his connections with foreign powers.

The move has raised fears of further unrest in the tiny Persian Gulf country which is already the scene of regular anti-regime demonstrations.

The kingdom also dissolved two other opposition groups, namely al-Tawiya and al-Risala Islamic associations.

Al-Wefaq’s Secretary General Sheikh Ali Salman has been in prison since December 2014 on charges of attempting to overthrow the regime and collaborating with foreign powers, which he has denied.

Since mid-February 2011, Bahrain, a close ally of the US in the Persian Gulf region, has been witnessing almost daily protests demanding that the ruling family relinquish power.

The Al Khalifa regime is engaged in a harsh crackdown on dissent and widespread discrimination against the country’s Shia majority. Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in the island country.

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