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Bahraini regime tightens crackdown on Shias ahead of Ashura commemorations

In this file picture, Bahraini regime forces take down placards and other symbols of mourning used by Shia Muslims to commemorate the martyrdom of the third Shia Imam, Imam Hussein (AS), in the Ras Rumman neighborhood of Manama, Bahrain. (Photo via Twitter)

Bahraini forces have tightened their ruthless crackdown against Shia Muslims ahead of the occasion of Ashura, as the Al Khalifah regime presses ahead with its heavy-handed measures against members of the majority religious community.

Social media activists have posted videos and pictures of Bahraini regime forces roaming through the streets of the northern town of A'ali to pull down any banner or flag related to Ashura commemorations, which marks the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (AS), the third Shia Imam.

Bahrain’s Shia community has long complained about discrimination and marginalization at the hands of the West-backed regime. 

According to human rights organizations, Bahraini authorities have imposed heavy curbs on the religious freedom of the majority community since the outbreak of the popular uprising and nationwide protests in 2011.

Bahraini prison officials prevent inmates from taking part in Shia mourning rituals

Officials at Bahrain's notorious Jau prison have prevented inmates from commemorating the rituals of Muharram under the pretext of potential irregularities.

Imprisoned political dissident Hussein Hilal Ahmed said prison guards have informed detainees at Building 7 of the detention facility about the restrictive measures, and stated that they do not allow the inmates to hold mourning rituals during the lunar calendar month of Muharram.

He said the ban was introduced "after a number of officers reported what seemed to be violations and compliance breaches.”

The detainee further noted that officials at Jau Prison, which is the Arab country's main detention facility, have enforced restrictions against inmates at Building 7 over the past several months.

The prisoners, in protest, organized a peaceful sit-in inside the prison and refused to go back to their rooms. Prison guards threatened to use brutal force if the sit-in was not suspended.

Another detainee, Osama al-Saghir, also complained about the ban on religious rites, stressing that “political prisoners are targeted systematically, and that official media outlets are complicit in their persecution. The outlets impose a news blackout on the violations being committed against them.”

Top Bahraini Shia cleric blasts ban on Ashura mourning rituals

Sheikh Hussain al-Daihi, the deputy secretary general of Bahrain's dissolved al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, also condemned Bahraini authorities' stringent restrictions on Shia citizens and prevented them from taking part in Ashura mourning rituals.

He said the practice falls within the framework of a “racist policy that has been nurtured in recent years.”

Sheikh Daihi pointed to the “deep rift between the Bahraini nation and the Manama regime,” arguing that Bahraini authorities are misappropriating state institutions in order to target Shias, their religious halls and preachers, and whoever disobeys the orders will be punished harshly.

“Shias in Bahrain do not seek to overthrow the ruling regime and establish their own rule. At the same time, they do not accept the ongoing imposition of tailored principles and certain religious orientations on them. Educational curricula, media reports as well as judiciary and security bodies are all being misused for the sake of suppressing Shias. This is the most contemptible level of tyranny,” he pointed out.

Demonstrations have been held in Bahrain on a regular basis ever since the popular uprising began in mid-February 2011.

People 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 form of dissent.

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