Bahrain’s judiciary has scheduled another hearing session in the trial of top Shia cleric Sheikh Issa Qassim for next month amid angry anti-regime rallies across the kingdom.
On Monday, a judicial source announced that the next hearing will take place on February 12. A court session was held in the capital Manama earlier in the day in the absence of Sheikh Qassim and under tight security measures, AFP reported.
Ahead of the hearing, protesters held numerous demonstrations in solidarity with the opposition cleric in several villages around the capital.
“Over 150,000 Bahrainis rallied last night (Sunday night) in support of Sheikh Issa Qassim in 48 regions across Bahrain,” Fars news agency quoted al-Wefaq Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Hossein al-Deyhi as saying.
The protesters chanted, “With our soul, with our blood, we sacrifice ourselves for you Qassim,” while carrying pictures of the spiritual leader of the banned al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.
Reports say regime forces gave a heavy-handed response to the rallies. They fired tear gas to break up the gatherings.
On June 20, 2016, Bahraini authorities stripped Qassim of his citizenship over accusations that he used his position to serve foreign interests and promote “sectarianism” and “violence.” He has denied the allegations.
Anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since the country’s popular uprising roared into life in February 2011.
The protesters demand that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power.
Manama’s harsh crackdown on demonstrations, aided by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, has left scores of people dead and hundreds more injured.