Bahrain arrests, charges 12 over Sheikh Qassim rallies
Bahrain has arrested and charged 12 people for taking part in protests held outside the home of top Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim.
The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy said on Wednesday that six of the 12 arrested in the village of Diraz were Shia clerics.
On June 20, Bahraini authorities stripped Sheikh Qassim of his citizenship, less than a week after suspending the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, the country’s main opposition bloc, and dissolving the Islamic Enlightenment Institution founded by Qassim, and the opposition al-Risala Islamic Association.
Over the past few weeks, demonstrators have held sit-ins outside Sheikh Qassim’s home to denounce his citizenship removal.
Since February 14, 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis, calling on the Al Khalifah rulers to relinquish power.
In March that year, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — themselves repressive Arab regimes — were deployed to the country to assist Manama in its crackdown on protests.
Bahrain has also sentenced Sheikh Ali Salman, another revered opposition cleric, to nine years in prison on charges of seeking regime change and collaborating with foreign powers, which he has denied.
Sheikh Salman was the secretary general of the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, which was Bahrain’s main opposition bloc before being dissolved by the regime last month.