Bahraini Muslims calls for mass rallies in support of Sheikh Qassim
Bahrain’s February 14 Youth Coalition, a major opposition group, condemned the continued house arrest of Sheikh Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of the country’s Shiite majority, calling for massive rallies in solidarity with the senior cleric.
In a statement, the February 14 Youth Coalition urged the people of the Persian Gulf country from all walks of life to stage demonstrations in support of Sheikh Qassim on Monday.
The statement came as local sources said on Sunday that Sheikh Qassim’s health condition is deteriorating.
Bahraini security forces have extensively surrounded the house of Sheikh Qassim in Diraz, west of Manama, according to media reports.
The cleric was stripped of his citizenship in June last year over accusations that he had used his position to serve foreign interests and promote sectarianism and violence. The cleric was handed a suspended one-year prison term and ordered to pay a fine.
The ruling against the prominent Shiite cleric also sparked widespread protests and condemnations.
Bahrain, a close ally of the US in the Persian Gulf region, has been witnessing almost daily protests against the ruling Al Khalifa dynasty since early 2011, with Manama using heavy-handed measures in an attempt to crush the demonstrations.
Scores of Bahrainis have been killed and hundreds of others injured and arrested in the ongoing crackdown on the peaceful demonstrations.
Amnesty International and many other international rights organizations have frequently censured the Bahraini regime for the rampant human rights abuses against opposition groups and anti-regime protesters.