BahrainMiddle East

Brutal Bahrain Regime Finally Granted Sheikh Isa Qassim Exit Visa for Medical Treatment

Prominent Bahraini cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim has obtained a passport and an exit visa to travel abroad to receive medical treatment, local sources reported.

Arabic-language al-Ahed news website quoted Bahraini sources as saying on Sunday that Sheikh Qassim has been given a passport and a one-year exit visa to go abroad for medical care.

The popular dissident cleric is expected to leave Bahrain later on Sunday, the sources said.

On Friday, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid Al Khalifa said King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has allowed Sheikh Qassim to travel to the United Kingdom for treatment.

Sheikh Maytham al-Salman of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights has announced that the cleric’s injuries stem from a fall he suffered at home in Diraz, a town west of Manama.

Bahraini security forces have extensively surrounded the house of Sheikh Qassim in Diraz and placed him under house arrest for more than 400 days ago.

The cleric was stripped of his citizenship in June 2016 over accusations that he had used his position to serve foreign interests and promote sectarianism and violence. He was handed a suspended one-year prison term and ordered to pay a huge fine.

The ruling against the prominent Shiite cleric sparked widespread protests and condemnations in Bahrain and around the world.

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.

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