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Bahrainis hold demonstration in solidarity with Sheikh Qassim

14 August 2016 8:28

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Bahraini people have staged another mass rally to express their support for distinguished Shia Muslim cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim, who recently had his citizenship removed by the regime in Manama.

On Sunday morning, protesters took to the streets close to the residence of the 79-year-old cleric, who is the spiritual leader of Bahrain’s main opposition bloc al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, in the northwestern village of Diraz.

They carried national Bahraini flags and the portraits of Sheikh Qassim, chanting slogans in condemnation of the ruling Al Khalifah dynasty.

Similar demonstrations were held in the al-Bilad al-Qadeem suburb of Manama, Sitra Island, south of the capital, as well as the Sar residential area west of Manama late on Saturday.

Clashes erupted between Bahraini protesters and regime forces in Sitra, though there were no immediate reports of casualties and detentions.

Later on Sunday, Bahraini demonstrators are scheduled to hold another rally in support of Sheikh Qassim at 8 p.m. local time (1700 GMT) on Sunday in Diraz, situated about 12 kilometers (7 miles) west of the capital, Manama.


Protesters holding Bahraini flags and placards with images of leading Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim shout slogans during an anti-regime protest after morning prayers in the village of Diraz, west of Manama, on August 14, 2016.

Last month, the public prosecutor in Bahrain said a cleric will go on trial in August on charges of “illegal fund collections and money laundering,” without providing an exact date.

The head of public prosecution, Ahmed al-Dosari, did not provide the name of the defendant, but a source familiar with the case said the cleric was Sheikh Qassim. The distinguished religious figure has vehemently dismissed the charges leveled against him.

Bahraini authorities stripped Sheikh Qassim of his nationality in late June. They later dissolved al-Wefaq as well as the Islamic Enlightenment Institution, founded by Sheikh Qassim, besides the opposition al-Risala Islamic Association.

Anti-regime protesters have staged numerous demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis since February 14, 2011, calling on the Al Khalifah regime to relinquish power.

Troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — themselves repressive Arab regimes — were deployed to the country in March that year to assist the Manama government in its crackdown on peaceful and pro-democracy rallies.

Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in Manama’s crackdown on the anti-regime activists.

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