Bahrainis rally to support slain Saudi cleric
People have staged separate demonstrations in Bahrain to voice their continued support for the cause championed by Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, a Saudi Shia cleric who was executed by Saudi Arabian authorities one year ago.
On Monday, demonstrators took to the streets in the northern village of al-Musalla on the western outskirts of the capital, Manama, carrying pictures of the religious figure, who was an outspoken critic of the Riyadh regime’s policies.
They voiced their outrage at the execution and emphasized that will not let his honor be trampled upon.
A similar rally was also staged on Sitra Island, situated five kilometers south of the capital, where protesters clashed with regime forces. The troops fired tear gas canisters in return to disperse the protesting crowd. There were no reports of arrests or injuries though.
Sheikh Nimr had been arrested in 2012 in the Qatif region of Saudi Arabia’s Shia-majority Eastern Province, which was the scene of peaceful anti-regime demonstrations at the time. He was charged with instigating unrest and undermining Saudi Arabia’s security. He rejected the charges as baseless and unfounded but was convicted in sham trials and executed.
In 2014, when he received a death sentence, widespread global condemnations were directed at the Saudi regime. The UK-based rights body Amnesty International called the sentence “appalling,” saying the verdict should be quashed since it was politically motivated.
Meanwhile, Bahraini protesters held a number of rallies across Manama on Monday in support of imprisoned political dissidents and those whose nationality has been revoked by Bahraini authorities.
The participants carried pictures of those killed by regime force since the February 2011 popular uprising in Bahrain, and chanted slogans against King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
Earlier in the day, Bahraini regime forces had raided a number of houses in the northwestern village of Bani Jamra, arresting at least 18 people. Local sources, requesting anonymity, said helicopters overflew as soldiers violently ransacked the buildings and damaged property.
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since the popular uprising began in the country on February 14, 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah family relinquish power and let a just system representing all Bahrainis be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to Bahrain to assist the Manama government in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown on anti-regime activists.