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Rights group rebukes Bahrain for targeting opponents of normalization with Israel

Protesters lift Bahraini and Palestinian flags during an anti-Israel rally on Sitra Island, south of the Bahraini capital, on October 1, 2021. (File photo by AFP)

A Bahraini rights group has rebuked the Bahraini regime for its heavy-handed crackdown on opponents of normalization with Israel after the inauguration of the Israeli embassy in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.

In a recent report published by Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, the group recorded human rights violations committed by the Al Khalifah regime in late September and October against Bahrainis who opposed normalization with Israel.

Following the inauguration of the Israeli embassy in Bahrain on September 30, anti-normalization protests intensified across the tiny kingdom, especially in the neighborhood of Ras Rumman in the capital Manama, the group said.

At the time, the report said, calls for peaceful demonstrations or expressions of popular rejection against the opening of the Israeli embassy in Bahrain spread from various parties.

The number of demonstrations reached 34 for the period between September 29 to October 22, said the report, dubbed “Bahrain: Ban on Expression.”

The Bahrain Forum for Human Rights noted that 13 people were arbitrarily detained while six others were summoned in the month of October.

“The strange thing regarding the issue is that when I was detained… the charge was the intention to participate in a rally. It was the first time in my life to be detained on an intention,” the group cited Ali Mehanna, an activist, as saying shortly after his release.

Mehanna was forced to sign a pledge not to take part in any rally, but he stressed that he opposes normalization with the Israeli regime.

The group also recorded 247 messages that incite hatred against the opponents of normalization, including civilians, political activists, and rights groups, saying authors of those massages carried out their smear campaign with impunity.

“It is noteworthy here that the official media has completely avoided publishing any balanced and professional media coverage that conveys the position of the other side against the government’s policies on normalization, and has contented itself with publishing what supports the official point of view,” it added.

Last September, Bahrain’s main opposition group, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, denounced Manama’s normalization of relations with Israel as “a crime,” emphasizing that the Al Khalifah regime’s policies did not conform to the will of the Bahraini nation.

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates signed US-brokered normalization agreements with Israel in an event in Washington in September 2020. Sudan and Morocco followed suit later that year. Palestinians have condemned the deals as a treacherous “stab in the back.”

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