Bahrain’s most prominent cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim says drawing up a new constitution is the only way out of the political crisis in the protest-hit kingdom, urging the regime in Manama to pursue an agreement with the Bahraini opposition instead of increasingly suppressing the dissidents.
“Since the people do not find anything to persuade themselves to stop their protest movement and are witnessing a surge in the [regime’s] policy of repression, dictatorship and marginalization, they are pressing ahead with their uprising, whatever the cost may be,” Sheikh Qassim said in a statement released on Monday and carried by the Bahrain Mirror news website.
“There would be no way out of the current situation unless the government reaches an agreement with the opposition to draw up a new constitution and found relevant institutions so as to protect the citizens’ rights and recognize their sovereign position in the country’s politics,” the senior cleric pointed out.
Sheikh Qassim further said reforms must be undertaken at a pace satisfactory to the public and must guarantee the authority, dignity, comfort, security and interests of all.
“There is a serious political and legal crisis in Bahrain, the consequences of which will be dangerous for both the nation and the government itself,” the cleric said.
He denounced the Manama regime over the “absurd” policy of putting more people behind bars, saying such a practice will not even benefit the “unjust political goal” being pursued by the Al Khalifah regime.
“If the purpose of populating prisons with thousands of inmates is to tone down the demands for political and civil rights to mere calls for the release of prisoners, the calls among the prisoners themselves for the nation’s rights [to be guaranteed] will definitely thwart such a conspiracy,” Sheikh Qassem said.
“The people of Bahrain are well aware of the fact that the solution to the country’s crisis lies only in a genuine improvement of the situation and establishment of a political relationship between the nation and the government on the basis of new and viable principles,” the cleric said.
“Today, the government is distancing itself more and more from people. This will exert a lot of pressure on it and weaken its position both domestically and internationally, even among the friendly countries which it relies on,” Sheikh Qassem said.
Demonstrations in Bahrain have been held on a regular basis ever since a popular uprising began in mid-February 2011.
The participants demand that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama, however, has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent.
On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to the imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.
King Hamad ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3, 2017.