Bahrain

Bahrain must immediately free Shia cleric

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A senior Iranian diplomat has urged the Bahraini regime to immediately release the incarcerated Shia opposition leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, given the current sensitive situation in the region.

The Bahraini government must understand the “sensitive and complicated” situation in the region and pay serious attention to the warnings by the political and religious authorities, as well as those by regional well-wishers about the continued detention of the prominent cleric, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Monday.

“Through the systematic violation of human rights and continuation of such measures, the Bahraini government … will create problems for the security of Bahrain and the region,” the Iranian official added.

He emphasized that the continuation of Bahrain’s crackdown and violence against protesters is a cause for concern and would deepen the crisis in the Persian Gulf state.

The Iranian diplomat said Sheikh Salman’s detention reveals a “serious crisis” in Bahrain, adding, “Tehran urges [the Bahraini government to put] the focus on a political solution and real national dialog to settle the ongoing crisis in Bahrain.”

The Iranian official’s remarks came after Bahraini public prosecutor on Sunday extended the detention of the prominent Shia cleric by 15 more days despite widespread protests over the issue.

The prosecution has rejected a request by defense lawyers to release the cleric on bail.

Salman, the secretary general of the al-Wefaq political party, has been in detention for more than one week.

His lawyers say prosecutors have formally charged the opposition figure with inciting a change of government by force, inciting hatred of a segment of society, inciting others to break the law, and insulting the Interior Ministry.

Al-Wefaq has rejected the charges as malicious and outright lies.

Bahrain has been witnessing almost daily protests against the Al Khalifa dynasty since early 2011, when an uprising began in the kingdom. Since then, thousands of protesters have held numerous rallies in the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.

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