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Bahraini regime paints popular uprising as sectarian conflict: Bahraini professor

31 July 2016 9:56

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The Bahraini regime tried to sow discord among Shias and Sunnis in order to paint, at an international level, the 2011 popular uprising of Bahrainis as an ethnic and tribal conflict with religious roots.

On Saturday, 31 January, Dr. Masoud Jahromi was having lunch with his family when they received several messages from their friends who asked him to verify the news which was spread online. His Bahraini nationality was revoked while he was totally unaware of it! Till that very moment no official/unofficial statement had come to him from any authorities concerning the issue, the online news agencies and social networks were the first to release and spread it.

On the mentioned date Bahrain’s Ministry of the Interior revoked the citizenship of 72 including Dr. Jahromi who was the Chairman of the engineering department at Ahlia University in Bahrain.

Following the Bahrain’s unrests in 2011 he was arrested, when his home was brutally raided at midnight and he was dragged from his bed to be investigated. He was charged with participation in pro-democracy rallies and served nearly six months in prison and dismissed from Ahlia University for about a year.

It is not for the first time that Bahrain government makes such a decision. The regime had previously published a similar list; however, the composition of the new list is quite surprising. The 72 names include Bahraini alleged members of ISIS as well as cultural, political and opposition figures, human right activists and journalists who are all living abroad except five including Dr. Jahromi.

The following is the full text of an exclusive interview with Dr. Jahromi conducted by Khamenei.ir:

Would you please briefly introduce yourself? Next, tell us about the Bahraini people’s peaceful protests, since 2011, and how the Bahraini regime has dealt with the protests?

I am Dr. Masoud Jahroumi, university professor and cultural activist in promoting the teachings of Ahlul Bait (may peace be upon Prophet Muhammad and his progeny). During the February 2011 revolution, while the regime was suppressing the protests, I was detained and jailed for 6 months. On January 28, 2015 the Bahraini regime revoked my citizenship; hence, revoking all my civil rights and Bahraini nationality; eventually, they sent me into exile on March 7, 2016.

The recent unrest in Bahrain and the 2011 uprising goes back to the long-term plans of the ruling family, plotted with the help, conspiracies, and advice of the United States, going back since 2000. In the year 2000, when Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa came into power, a show of democracy was launched in the name of National Action Charter of Bahrain; a referendum was carried out and the Emir of Bahrain acted as if he had initiated a reformation era. Through the referendum, the National Action Charter of Bahrain was passed with 98% of voters saying “yes” to it.

In 2002, in a move much unexpected by advocates of reform, Hamad Al-Khalifa changed the constitution of the country. The changes made were against the Emir’s promises (he was already the king then) and violated the articles of the national charter passed in 2000.

In the same year, as a consequence of violating the national charter, political associations and assemblies who opposed the ruling regime led by the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, decided to withdraw from partaking in the upcoming parliament election, in order to show their opposition. Notwithstanding, in the year 2006, the political associations who opposed the regime, decided it was better to participate in the elections; although, these associations won 70% of the votes, unfortunately, only 19% of the 40 seats in parliament were given to them.

Moreover, in 2006 when the famous Bander case (Dr. Salah Al Bander, former advisor to the Saudi King) was exposed: this revealed the Bahraini regime’s plans to eradicate Shias in Bahrain, by changing the population composition from a Shia majority to a Shia minority (Shias compromised 75% of Bahrain’s population until 2006); boycotting members of the opposition from obtaining educational and academic scholarships; and preventing them from taking any top positions at any academic or administration center, to name a few. These measures were pursued imperceptibly and subtly.

From 2011 onward and after the popular uprising, the regimes plans and measures to eliminate the oppositon turned from subtle into obvious and open. The regime used the popular uprising as an excuse to suppress the Muslims; the regime also tried to sow discord among Shias and Sunnis in order to paint, at an international level, the 2011 popular uprising of Bahrainis as an ethnic and tribal conflict with religious roots. Furthermore, the Bahraini regime passed the control of its affairs onto Saudi Arabia; once the uprising was launched, the Saudi regime sent troops to Bahrain to suppress the people; since then, the Saudi regime would escalate pressures on Bahraini opposition over any event in the region and tried to exploit the Bahraini crisis for its own benefit.

Please elaborate more on the Bahraini regime’s measures to detain you and more recently revoke your citizenship along with that of many more Bahrainis? What motive do you think the Al-Khalifa regime peruses in revoking the citizenship of its people?

It seems that one of the reasons behind the escalation of pressure on opponents of the regime, and on Bahraini Muslim scholars, is because of the recent events in the region regarding the Saudis and takfiri elements strategic failures.

Besides, since the most influential element and the leader of the opposition is Sheikh Isa Qassim (may God protect him), the regime looks to impose pressure on him, in order to intimidate and suppress the opposition and depreciate the status of the Muslim religious leadership in Bahrain on the one hand, and push into surrender the unstable opposition forces who might regret or be fed up with the uprising.

The Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society was established after the National Charter and ever since it has been seeking to make the regime meet the people’s demands through logical and peaceful means and away from any form of violence or conflict; these virtues of the Al-Wafaq society are acknowledged and confirmed by everyone at an international level. Additionally, the Al-Wefaq society enjoys a major popularity among the opposition in general. Al Wefaq’s spiritual leader is Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim (may God protect him). During the opposition’s talks with the regime, Al Wefaq has always been the main actor.  It is for the above mentioned reasons that the liquidation of Al Wefaq by the regime, at this stage, means that the regime seeks to totally suppress the entire opposition and no talks, negotiations, or compromise will ever be held with Al Wefaq for what it demands. Moreover, the liquidation of Al Wefaq and the confiscation of its properties are tools at the hands of the regime, in order to silence and suppress smaller associations who oppose the ruling regime, as well as to prevent any form of financial aid from going to the families of the detainees, martyrs, those dismissed from their occupations, etc.

Right now the regime seeks to use and exploit the pro-regime clergy and the avaricious elites, to clean its face in the international arena and destroy the Muslim religious identity.

For instance the board of managers of the Ja’fariyah Endowments Directorate, particularly the head of it Sheikh Mohsen Al-Usfur (who are all puppets of the regime) are playing a crucial role in this regard by  issuing various declarations to defame Bahraini scholars and paint the regime’s face, and back it.

Obviously, if the current conditions continue in Bahrain, it won’t have any outcome, but unrests on the streets, conflicts among Shias and Sunnis, and eventually persuading the regime into battle with its opponents- and this will in turn be the beginning of a civil and sectarian war.

What role do you think prominent Sheikh Isa Qassim has played in the process of the Bahraini revolution? Why do you think the Al-Khalifa regime has revoked the Sheikh’s citizenship? What consequences could revoking the citizenship of Sheikh Isa Qassim, you as a university professor and other Bahrainis have? What do you think the future may bring for the Bahraini revolution?

As the Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran has said Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim has played an influential role in preventing individual and illogical reactions in Bahrain, and through good knowledge and awareness of the situation in Bahrain and in the region, he has sought to employ the most peaceful and practical means to settle the issue of Bahrain and fulfill the people’s rights. Furthermore, he is the representative of all religious scholars in Bahrain and has permission to make decisions on religiously collected money. After revoking his citizenship, the regime sought to send him into exile outside Bahrain as soon as possible, but with the global popular solidarity in defense of him and following certain events in the region, their plot was foiled; thus, persuading the regime to look for more ways to exert pressure on him, accusing him of money laundering through collecting religious property, calling him to the court. The regime is resolutely seeking to put him on trial and it seems this will lead to his conviction in addition to exile.

In 2014 a law was passed, which gave the king the right to revoke the citizenship of people whose names have been presented to him by the Interior minister of the country and the prime ministry, while no individual or entity will have the right to oppose the King’s verdict, since he sits at the highest position with the court and the judicial system below him.

The cases of revoking citizenship, which have been happening since 2012 in Bahrain, are not only against international law, but against Bahraini laws, because they are all political, without any evidence to support the security accusations claimed against these people. Ever since, revoking citizenship has turned into a tool used to silence the people and it is considered the worst and strictest verdict against the people; hence, anyone whose citizenship has been revoked will be deprived of all civil rights and practically their own and their family’s everyday life will be affected; in the end, they will be given a temporary passport (valid for 6 months to one year) and sent out of Bahrain. This has been protested several times at an international level.

How do you assess the media coverage of the events in Bahrain over the past few years? Who do you think backs the Bahraini regime that despite its open violation of human rights, no concrete measure has been taken against it by the International community?

In the international arena, events in Bahrain were initially positively and widely perceived, but with the regime’s influence on allies in the region, as well as western countries like the U.S., news coverage of Bahrain went down. The superpowers never supported the Bahraini revolution’s ideals and thus will always block and prevent any coverage of the how, why and the details of it.

Which countries do you think interfere with Bahrain’s internal affairs? In your opinion, what goals and orientations do these interferences pursue?

Saudi Arabia’s direct intervention in Bahrain is undeniable and the U.S. has a more covered form of intervention compared to that of the Saudi regime. Moreover, Saudi Arabia has always tried to persuade the Persian Gulf countries to join in the condemning and suppressing of the popular uprising in Bahrain. In recent years, UAE has not hesitated to interfere into Bahrain’s internal affairs.

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