Clashes between police and worshipers demonstrators have erupted in Bahrain for the fifth day in a row as the activists demand the release of Sheikh Ali Salman, the head of the largest Shiite opposition party in the Kingdom, AFP reports.
Police used tear gas to disperse a crowd following a rally that started after prayers at Manama’s Mumen mosque.
According to reports, the Bahraini worshipers were holding a protest rally after the evening prayers on Thursday to voice their anger at the arrest of Sheikh Ali Salman, the head of the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.
“Dozens of people… including women and children, were arrested,” Bahrain Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement. Arabic news sources also reported injuries.
The protest movement demands the release of the opposition leader of the Al-Wefaq party. Before the Thursday’s rally in the capital, protests centered on the villages surrounding Manama.
Tensions have been running high in Bahrain since Sheikh Salman was taken into custody on December 28. The opposition leader was remanded in custody on Tuesday for a week for further questioning.
Al-Wefaq has described any move against Salman as serious and uncalculated adventurism, which would complicate the political and security landscape in the Persian Gulf country.
On December 30, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called on the Manama regime to release Sheikh Salman.
The European Union has also warned that the arrest of the al-Wefaq leader “carries the risk of jeopardizing an already difficult political and security situation.”
Also US criticizes Bahrain for detention of opposition leader. “Opposition parties that peacefully voice criticism of the government play a vital role in inclusive, pluralistic states and societies,” said a Wednesday statement by the State Department.
Bahrain has been witnessing almost daily protests against the Al Khalifa dynasty since early 2011, when an uprising began in the kingdom. Since then, thousands of protesters have held numerous rallies in the streets of Bahrain, calling on the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.