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Bahraini clerics demand mass rallies in support of Sheikh Qassim

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 Shia clerics attend a protest against the revocation of the citizenship of senior Bahraini Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim (portrait) on June 20, 2016, near the cleric’s house in the village of Diraz, west of Manama. (Photo by AFP)

Bahraini clerics have called on people from all walks of life to stage nationwide rallies on the eve of the trial of distinguished Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim, whom the ruling Al Khalifah dynasty has stripped of his citizenship and mulls his expulsion from the kingdom.

The clerics, in a statement released on Saturday, asked all Bahraini men and women to take to the streets to support the 77-year-old cleric, who is the spiritual leader of the country’s dissolved opposition bloc, al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, Arabic-language Lualua television network reported.

The statement noted that the demonstrations attest to popular outrage over the Manama regime’s crackdown on the Shia community, and point to the nation’s preparedness to sacrifice all they have to defend Sheikh Qassim.

Bahraini authorities stripped the cleric of his citizenship on June 20, 2016. They later dissolved the Islamic Enlightenment Institution, founded by him, in addition to the opposition al-Risala Islamic Association.

The Manama regime has leveled charges of “illegal fund collections, money laundering and helping terrorism” against Sheikh Qassim, who has strongly rejected them. 

A trial session had been scheduled for the senior cleric on March 14, but was postponed to May 7 amid fears of a surge in popular outrage.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the kingdom in mid-February 2011.

They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.

Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.

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