Dozens of people have held a rally in Bahrain to condemn the kingdom’s foreign minister over paying tribute to former Israeli president Shimon Peres, who died earlier this week after spending almost a fortnight in a medically induced coma following a major stroke.
The demonstrators took to the streets in the northwestern village of Diraz, situated about 12 kilometers west of the capital Manama, following Friday prayers to denounce Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifah’s message of condolences, reject any normalization of relations with the Tel Aviv regime and express solidarity with Palestine.
“Rest in Peace President Shimon Peres, a Man of War and a Man of the still elusive Peace in the Middle East,” Bahrain’s top diplomat posted on his Twitter account on Thursday.
The tribute drew the ire of many online users as well as opposition figures, given the fact that Manama does not have diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv, and a large number of Arabs view Peres as the man responsible for the successive wars that have rocked the Middle East.
“The foreign minister is paying tribute and praying for the Zionist terrorist and the killer of children,” complained former opposition lawmaker Jalal Fairooz.
The Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv pronounced Peres dead at 0000 GMT on Wednesday.
During the Friday rally, the participants also chanted slogans in condemnation of the Manama regime’s heavy-handed crackdown on dissent in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.
They voiced their support for distinguished Shia Muslim cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim, whose citizenship was removed by the ruling Al Khalifah dynasty more than three months ago, and demanded the release of prisoners of conscience, opposition figures and clergymen.
Bahraini authorities stripped Sheikh Qassim of his citizenship on June 20. They later dissolved the opposition al-Wefaq National Islamic Society and al-Risala Islamic Association as well as the Islamic Enlightenment Institution, founded by Sheikh Qassim.
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the kingdom on February 14, 2011. They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and a just system representing all Bahrainis be established.
Manama has spared no effort to clamp down on the dissent and rights activists. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to Bahrain to assist the Manama government in its crackdown on peaceful protesters.
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 on activists.