Shia Muslim clerics in Bahrain have stopped holding congregational prayers in the country in protest at the heavy-handed crackdown and persecution by the ruling Al Khalifah regime.
The clerics, in a statement titled “Those Barred from Praying” released on Thursday, condemned the Bahraini regime’s efforts to restrict Shia Muslims’ freedom of religion and belief, describing the situation in the country as “deplorable,” Arabic-language Bahrain Mirror news website reported.
The statement said that the Al Khalifa regime’s systematic suppression of Bahraini Shia Muslims has reached its highest level ever, and members of the kingdom’s largest religious community feel insecure and face threats of arrest and prosecution if they seek to observe their religious rituals, primarily congregational prayers and Friday prayers.
It pointed to the constant summoning of Bahraini Shia imams and leaders of Friday prayers and their frequent detentions and said regime officials want the prayers to be in accordance with their demands rather than Shia jurisprudence.
The statement concluded that the end to Shia congregational and Friday prayers in Bahrain will take effect on Thursday evening, and will be renewed weekly.
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 peaceful protests.
Recently, however, the Manama regime crackdown has intensified even by the standards of the brutal regime itself.
On Tuesday, Bahrain suspended all the activities of the country’s main opposition movement, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.
Al-Wefaq’s Secretary General Sheikh Ali Salman has been in prison since December 2014 on charges of attempting to overthrow the regime and collaborating with foreign powers, which he has denied.
On May 30, Bahrain’s Supreme Court of Appeal increased Salman’s prison sentence to nine years from the original four.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in the Bahraini crackdown on the anti-regime activists.