European Religious Figures Condemn Bahrain for Stripping Sheikh Qassim
European religious figures in a statement on Thursday deplored the al-Khalifa regime for revoking senior Bahraini Shiite cleric Sheikh Issa Qassim of citizenship, urging the international community to prevent the Bahraini regime’s continued clampdown on popular demands.
“The Islamic European Union of Shiite Scholars and Theologians condemns this obscene move,” the statement said.
It called the al-Khalifa regime’s decision to strip Sheikh Qassim of citizenship as a flagrant violation of the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and said as the UN human rights office has announced, “the Bahraini government’s decision is certainly unjustified based on the international laws”.
The statement called on all the world Muslims and the international and human rights organizations, specially the EU parliament, to endeavor to restore the citizenship rights of Sheikh Qassim and prevent the Manama regime’s continued unwise moves.
Meantime, Bahrain’s political parties and religious figures called on people to continue their sit-in in front of Sheikh Qassim’s house in protest at the Manama regime’s revocation of his citizenship.
The Bahraini political and religious figures, including February 14 Revolution Coalition and Haq Movement leaders as well as Majid Abdullah, a politician, and Ali al-Aswad, a former Bahraini MP, demanded the country’s people to gather in front of Sheikh Qassim’s house in the village of Diraz near the capital Manama.
Bahrain’s Interior Ministry announced in a statement on Monday the country’s top Shiite cleric was stripped of his citizenship.
“Issa Ahmed Qassim has been stripped of his Bahraini citizenship,” Bahrain state news agency cited the ministry’s statement, referring to the country’s most senior Shiite Muslim cleric in Bahrain.
Bahraini people began protests outside the house of cleric Ayatollah Isa Qassim in Diraz on Monday in reaction to the Bahraini regime decision to strip the prominent religious scholar of the country’s citizenship.
Also on Tuesday, large numbers of people continued their gathering outside Sheikh Qassim’s house in protest at the Manama regime’s move over revoking of his citizenship.
Following the initial protests in the village of Diraz, Bahraini security forces banned any manner of gathering in the village and sealed off the area around the cleric’s house, however thousands of protesters performed prayer outside the house of the senior cleric.
The latest move by the Bahrain regime against the country’s main opposition figures came as the Al-Kahlifeh regime is exerting mounting pressure on the opposition.
Opposition members feel the government is willing to accelerate its crackdown on dissent because it believes it will only face minimal censure through statements of concern in the US and Europe. Both the US and UK have large naval bases in Bahrain.
Last week, the government suspended the main Shia opposition party, al-Wefaq, accusing it of having links to foreign terrorists and inciting hatred. Sheikh Ali Salman, al-Wefaq’s secretary-general, was arrested in 2014 on charges of inciting violence. His sentence was doubled to nine years on appeal last month.
The cabinet decided to revoke the citizenship of Sheikh Isa, an indigenous Bahraini who applied for nationality to get a passport in the 1960s, after a presentation by the interior ministry. The lack of judicial oversight raised concerns among rights groups.
Stripping the nationality of dissidents has become a popular tool for Persian Gulf Arab littoral states battling domestic dissent, such as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, where nationality is perceived by many as a privilege not a right.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says more than 250 Bahrainis have been stripped of their nationality for alleged disloyalty.