Bahrainis hold rallies against Sheikh Salman trial
Bahrainis have staged several anti-regime protest rallies across the Persian Gulf kingdom on the eve of the trial of the distinguished Shia opposition cleric, Sheikh Ali Salman.
Th protesters took to the streets in the villages of Diraz, al-Markh and Saar as well as Bilad al-Qadeem town on Sunday evening, calling for the immediate release of Sheikh Ali Salman, the secretary general of the country’s dissolved al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, and other political detainees.
On October 16, Bahrain’s Court of Cassation ordered a retrial of the senior Shia opposition figure, who has been sentenced to nine years in jail in a series of previous trials.
Earlier this month, the tribunal adjourned to 12 December the trial of Sheikh Salman.
He was arrested in December 2014 on charges of attempting to overthrow the Manama regime and collaborating with foreign powers. Sheikh Salman denies the charges, saying he has merely been seeking reforms in the country through peaceful means.
Amnesty International and other human rights groups have slammed his arrest and called for his release.
During the Sunday rallies, the demonstrators also expressed their solidarity with top Shia scholar Sheikh Isa Qassim, who was stripped of his citizenship on June 20 in yet another repressive measure by the regime against political dissent.
Besides al-Wefaq, the regime has also dissolved the opposition al-Risala Islamic Association and Islamic Enlightenment Institution, founded by Sheikh Qassim.
Bahrain has been witnessing almost daily protests against the ruling Al Khalifah dynasty since mid-February 2011.
Manama’s heavy-handed crackdown on demonstrations, aided by Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, has left scores of people dead and hundreds others injured.