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Bahrain court dissolves main opposition group al-Wefaq

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Bahraini women hold placards bearing the portrait of Sheikh Ali Salman, the imprisoned secretary general of al-Wefaq during a protest on the outskirts of the capital, Manama, September 14, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

A court in Bahrain has dissolved the country’s main Shia opposition group, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, almost a month after the regime suspended its activities.

The so-called administrative court in the capital, Manama, on Sunday ordered the dissolution of al-Wefaq and the seizure of its funds.

The Bahraini justice ministry had suspended the opposition group’s activities on June 14.

The latest move, part of a wide crackdown on political dissent in Bahrain, is certain to prompt more protests in the country, whose embattled regime has faced an uprising since 2011.

Various human rights organizations had condemned the suspension, labeling it as part of a new crackdown on dissent.

Al-Wefaq’s secretary general, Sheikh Ali Salman, has been in prison since December 2014 on charges of attempting to overthrow the regime and collaborating with foreign powers, charges he has denied. A court sentenced him to four years in prison in June 2015.

The spiritual leader of the group, Sheikh Issa Qassim, has also been stripped of his Bahraini citizenship over similar accusations. On Saturday, the public prosecutor in Bahrain said the cleric will go on trial early next month on charges of “illegal fund collections and money laundering,” without providing an exact date.

Since February 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations on an almost daily basis, calling for the Al Khalifah regime to relinquish power.

In March that year, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — themselves repressive Arab regimes — were deployed to the country to help in the crackdown on peaceful protests.

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