Thousands of Bahrainis took to the streets of Diraz, west of the Bahraini capital Manama, on Friday (July 29, 2016), condemning the ongoing religious persecution, practiced by the Bahraini authorities against the followers of the Shiite sect. This came after the authorities prevented the largest Shia congregational prayers from being held.
The regime did not allow the largest Friday prayers from taking place in the Shiite Imam Sadiq Mosque in Diraz, after preventing prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Mohammad Sanqour from reaching the mosque to lead the prayers.
Protestors called on the authorities to put an end to the targeting of the Shia majority in the country, as the government has taken a series of serious measures last month, threatening the Gulf Kingdom’s security.
The authorities dissolved the main opposition group Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, in addition to two other Shiite religious societies. Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa later issued a royal decree, stripping Bahrain’s Shia spiritual leader Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim of his nationality, and referring him to trial over charges related to his practice of the obligatory Shiite ritual of Khums (alms).
One of the top Shiite religious figures in the country, Sayed Abdullah Al-Ghuraifi, said yesterday that the ritual of collecting alms (Khums) doesn’t constitute a crime, for it is a main obligatory practice in the Shiite doctrine, denouncing the government’s criminalization of this rite.
Protestors marched through the streets of Diraz, where Ayatollah Qassim resides, expressing their frustration at the persecution of the Shia, chanting anti-regime slogans, and holding the king accountable for the ongoing abuses committed against the Shia over the past five years.
Backed by Saudi troops that invaded the country in March 2011, the Bahraini military has demolished about 40 Shiite mosques, an act that prompted international condemnation.