Bahraini prosecutors have charged the leader of the country’s main opposition party, al-Wefaq, with a bid to change the ruling Al Khalifa regime in the Persian Gulf kingdom.
Sheikh Ali Salman is charged with “promoting regime change by force, threats, and illegal means and of insulting the interior ministry publicly”, the Bahraini prosecutor, Nayef Mahmud, said in a statement on Monday.
The prosecutor said that the opposition figure was also accused of inciting people to break the law and that he would be kept in custody on Tuesday for further investigations.
He added that the Shia leader is suspected of calling for foreign interference by “urging super powers to intervene in Bahrain to support him in his bid to change the regime”.
The Bahraini opposition group has called for the immediate release of Sheikh Salman, describing his arrest as “an escalating step that targets social stability and civil peace in Bahrain”.
Bahraini officials are “moving backward to a police state instead of taking steps towards a political solution and an end to serious human rights violations against citizens,” said the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.
Bahrain’s Justice and Development Movement has also condemned the detention of Sheikh Salman and warned that the opposition leader’s arrest is a dangerous escalation.
Dozens of Shia clerics in Bahrain gathered in Imam al-Sadiq (AS) Mosque in the al-Guful village in the northwestern part of the capital Manama and condemned the detention of Sheikh Ali Salman.
Al-Wefaq, in a Sunday statement announced that 49-year-old Salman was detained following 10 hours of questioning by Bahrain’s criminal police.
The statement also described any move against Salman as serious and uncalculated adventurism, which would complicate the political and security landscape in Bahrain.
The arrest came as Sheikh Salman secured a new four-year stint at al-Wefaq’s general congress on Friday night.
Bahrain has been the scene of almost daily protests against the Al Khalifa dynasty since early 2011, when an uprising began in the kingdom.