Dozens of protesters have rallied in Bahrain to condemn a ban on holding Friday prayers and to denounce the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown on the majority Shia community.
They marched through the streets in Diraz after troops closed roads leading to the grand mosque, preventing them from gathering for prayers.
The protesters insisted on their rights to freedom of religion and belief and condemned the Manama regime’s efforts to restrict them.
Bahraini authorities have summoned or arrested more than a dozen Shia clerics over the past few weeks in a stepped-up crackdown on peaceful protests.
In a recent statement, a group of Bahrain clerics said the systematic suppression in Bahrain had reached the highest level ever.
They said members of the majority Shia community felt insecure and faced arrest or prosecution for attending religious congregations, specially Friday prayers.
On Thursday, a Bahraini court handed down a one-year prison sentence against Sheikh Ali Humaidan, the imam of the al-Zahra Mosque in the northern town of Hamad, on charges of “organizing illegal assemblies.”
Bahraini authorities also handed down a three-year prison sentence to human rights activist Ghada Jamshir.
The activist, an ardent campaigner for judicial reform in Bahrain and other Arab states in the Persian Gulf, was arrested at the Bahrain airport.
She is charged with engaging in political activities against the Manama regime, and publishing posts on social media critical of the current rulers.
Separately, a Bahraini court sentenced nine people to ten years in prison each on charges of holding unlawful gatherings, disrupting public security and attempting to detonate an improvised explosive device in the Muqsha village west of the capital.
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 were deployed in March that year to assist the Manama regime in crushing pro-democracy protests. Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in the ongoing crackdown.