Bahraini regime forces have prevented dozens of Shia Muslims from holding Friday prayers for the third week in a row as the ruling Al Khalifah regime presses ahead with its heavy-handed crackdown against prominent figures and followers of the majority religious community in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.
On Friday, Bahraini regime forces blocked all roads leading to the Imam Sadiq Mosque in the northwestern village of Diraz, situated about 12 kilometers (seven miles) west of the capital Manama, preventing Muslims from converging at the place of worship.
The worshipers then staged a demonstration in front of the mosque to express their outrage over the measure. They chanted slogans against Al Khalifah dynasty, calling for an end to the regime’s sectarian discrimination against them.
The development comes as Bahraini authorities have either arrested or summoned 10 Shia clerics over the past few weeks.
Bahraini Shia clerics, in a statement titled “Those Barred from Praying” released on June 16, condemned the Manama regime’s efforts to restrict Shia Muslims’ freedom of religion and belief, describing the situation in the country as “deplorable.”
The statement said that the Al Khalifah regime’s systematic suppression of Bahraini Shia Muslims had reached its highest level ever, and members of the kingdom’s largest religious community felt insecure and faced threats of arrest and prosecution if they sought to observe their religious rituals, primarily Friday and other congregational prayers.
On June 20, Bahraini authorities revoked the citizenship of distinguished Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim less than a week after suspending the country’s main opposition bloc, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, and dissolving the Islamic Enlightenment Institution, founded by Sheikh Qassim, and the opposition al-Risala Islamic Association.
Anti-regime protesters have staged numerous demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis since February 14, 2011, calling on the Al Khalifah regime to relinquish power.
Troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — themselves repressive Arab regimes — were deployed to the country in March that year to assist the Manama government in its crackdown on peaceful and pro-democracy rallies.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in Manama’s crackdown on the anti-regime activists.