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Opposition slams Manama’s crackdown on Muharram processions

Bahraini police vehicles stand guard during Muharram rituals on August 18, 2021. (Photo from Twitter account of LuaLua TV)

Bahrain’s main opposition group has blasted the Manama regime for suppressing the annual mourning rituals in the lunar calendar month of Muharram that commemorate the martyrdom anniversary of the third Shia Imam.

In a statement released on Sunday, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society slammed provocative acts and attacks by the security forces of the ruling Al Khalifah regime against Shia Muslim mourners.

During the first ten days of Muharram, Bahraini forces summoned and interrogated Shia scholars, preachers, officials of religious centers, elegists, and other people with the aim of “humiliating them for their religious affiliation”, the statement said. 

They, it added, also tore and brought down banners and flags marking Ashura in different parts of Bahrain.

Ashura is the culmination of a 10-day Muharram mourning period for Imam Hussein (AS), who was martyred along with his 72 companions in the Battle of Karbala in southern Iraq in 680 AD after fighting courageously for justice against the much larger army of the Umayyad caliph, Yazid I.

Al-Wefaq censured the Bahraini regime for exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to impose its will and restrict religious activities.

It said Manama, similar to what it did last year, took measures to hinder mourning processions organized by the country’s Shia majority.

“Such moves signify the depth and magnitude of the political crisis in the country and a lack of peaceful coexistence between the rulers and the people,” it said.

Anti-regime demonstrations in Bahrain have been held on a regular basis ever since a popular uprising began in mid-February 2011.

The participants demand that Al Khalifah relinquish power and let a just system representing all citizens be established.

Manama, however, has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. The authorities have detained rights campaigners, broken up major opposition political parties, revoked the nationality of several pro-democracy activists and deported those left stateless.

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