Hundreds of people have staged rallies across Bahrain to express solidarity with prominent Bahraini Shia cleric Sheikh Issa Qassim and condemn the Al Khalifah regime’s recent decision to strip him of his citizenship.
Bahrainis took to the streets under the motto of “Friday of Sacrifice” in the villages of Ma’ameer and Karzakan, the town of A’ali, and the islands of Sitra and Nabih Saleh, holding up the portraits of the 79-year-old spiritual leader of the main Shia opposition group, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.
The protesters also carried placards reading “Stop sectarian violence in Bahrain”, and “We will only bow to God.”
Bahraini regime forces then intervened and fired tear gas canisters to disperse the crowds.
Elsewhere in the town of al-Zahra, Bahraini troops raided a house and arrested two men in their early 20s.
Also on Friday, Bahraini demonstrators attended a protest against the revocation of Sheikh Qassim’s nationality outside his residence in the village of Diraz near the capital Manama.
The Al Khalifah regime’s June 20 move against the distinguished Shia figure came less than a week after Bahrain’s Justice Ministry suspended al-Wefaq and dissolved the opposition Islamic Enlightenment Institution, whose founder is Sheikh Qassim, and al-Risala Islamic Association.
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 family to relinquish power.
In March that year, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — themselves repressive Arab regimes — were deployed to the country to assist the Bahraini government in its crackdown on peaceful protests.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in the Bahraini crackdown on the anti-regime activists.