Hundreds of people have taken to the streets in Bahrain to express solidarity with prominent Shia Muslim cleric Sheikh Issa Qassim, whom the regime has recently stripped of his nationality and is shortly to put on trial.
On Tuesday evening, protesters marched along the streets in the capital, Manama, as well as its suburbs, to denounce measures against the 79-year-old cleric, who is the spiritual leader of Bahrain’s main opposition bloc, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.
They declared during the rallies that Sheikh Qassim has the support of the majority of the Bahraini population.
Shop owners also closed their shops on the streets and at various shopping malls.
Additionally, local residents switched off the lights of their houses in response to calls by opposition groups and chanted slogans on rooftops in condemnation of Sheikh Qassim’s forthcoming trial.
Meanwhile, Bahraini regime forces have beefed up their presence in the northwestern village of Diraz, situated about 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) west of Manama, as scores of Sheikh Qassim’s supporters continue sit-ins outside his residence to voice support for the distinguished religious figure.
On June 20, Bahraini authorities stripped Sheikh Qassim of his citizenship.
The regime has also dissolved al-Wefaq as well as the al-Risala Islamic Association and Islamic Enlightenment Institution, founded by Sheikh Qassim.
Since February 14, 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis, calling on the Al Khalifah rulers to relinquish power.
In March that year, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to the country to assist the Bahraini regime in cracking down on the protests.