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Colin Cavell: Al Khalifah legitimizing crackdown on opposition

Bahraini protesters hold a placard bearing the portrait of top Bahraini Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim during a protest against the revocation of Qassim's citizenship near his house in the village of Diraz, west of Manama, on June 20, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Press TV has interviewed Colin Cavell, author and lecturer from New York, Bahrain’s revocation of the citizenship of Sheikh Isa Qassim.

The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Looking at the allegation that the Al Khalifah regime has put against Sheikh Isa Qassim of spreading extremism, how do you respond to that, specifically when you consider that Sheikh Isa Qassim is a well-known figure for keeping these protests peaceful and for calling for reforms within the rights of the Bahraini people?

Cavell: Sheikh Isa Qassim is not only well-known throughout the kingdom and the Middle East, but he is well respected and one of the most peaceful non-violent leaders in all of Bahrain. So the idea that Sheikh Isa Qassim is promoting violence or an agent of a foreign power, these are more of the same from this illegal Al Khalifah regime.

They have already jailed most of the opposition most recently Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the largest opposition party in Bahrain. And then just about a week ago they banned al-Wefaq, the largest opposition party in Bahrain. And now they’re getting rid of the citizenship of Sheikh Isa Qassim, which will make him stateless and that means either he has to leave the country or they will put him in jail.

So these are fictions the regime plays with itself to try to legitimize its crackdown on any opposition voices, but what the people of Bahrain need to reflect upon now is that this regime, this Al Khalifah regime, has absolutely no legitimacy. Their authority in power is based simply on power. It is not based on any legitimacy at all. They’re unelected. They have no claim to any type of legitimacy and the people of Bahrain need to reflect on that very carefully. Their only source of influence is boot power.

Press TV: Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has spoken of slamming this move by the Al Khalifah regime and also it has been said that this is only going to expedite the ruling family’s downfall, do you see it that way?

Cavell: Absolutely. I think Mr. Ali Larijani is spot-on. He understands that when you put all the opposition in jail, when you ban all the opposition parties, when you stomp out any type of freedom of expression, any type of freedom of thought or conscience, any type of freedom of assembly, you’re going against not only international law, you’re going against basic rules of politics. What that means when there’s no place to breathe or talk or voice your opinion, then it does promote people to demand their rights in a more extreme way, because they realized under this Al Khalifah dictatorship there is no hope for any type of freedom or liberation until they’re removed from power.

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