Senior clerics in Bahrain have once again expressed their unwavering support for distinguished Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim, and condemned the ruling Al Khalifah regime’s violent crackdown on protesters.
The clerics, in a statement released on Saturday, called on Bahrainis from different walks of life to support the 77-year-old cleric, who is the spiritual leader of the country’s dissolved opposition bloc, al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, till the last drops of their blood, Arabic-language Lualua television network reported.
Also on Saturday, dozens of people staged a rally in the northern village of Abu Saiba to voice support for 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 earlier in the month, but was postponed to February 26 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.