Hundreds of people have taken to the streets in Bahrain to condemn the ruling Al Khalifah regime for the demolition of several Shia mosques in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom over the past few years.
The protesters, hailing from all walks of life, marched throughout the capital, Manama, late on Thursday, calling for the downfall of the ruling Al Khalifah regime.
They also held up anti-regime banners and the pictures of the demolished mosques, chanting slogans like “The Ruling Family is Criminal.”
The Shia majority of Bahrain has long complained of being discriminated against in obtaining jobs and services by the Bahraini regime.
Last month, nearly 40 Shia clerics said in a statement that Bahraini Shia citizens “have always called for citizenship equality… without any discrimination based on ethnicity, color, religion or sect.”
Led by Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qassim, Bahrain’s leading Shia cleric and the spiritual leader of the main opposition movement al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, the clerics stated that the nation reserves the right to demand a ruling system on the basis of “a constitution that does not sideline the will of the people.”
The clerics stated that their majority community in Bahrain has never sought “a sectarian state… let alone a one-sect state,” while demanding protection for the freedom to practice religious rites.
Since February 14, 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations on an almost daily basis in Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifah family 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 government in its crackdown on the peaceful protests.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in the crackdown.
International rights organizations have frequently censured the Bahraini regime over the rampant human rights abuses against opposition activists and protesters.