Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of Bahraini Shiites, has reportedly refused to attend his first court hearing on July 27, 2016.
According to Bahrain Mirror, Sheikh Isa did not even assign a lawyer and so did not the other defendants in the same case. Sheikh Isa also refused to receive a notice to stand before the court as his family declined to attach the notice to the front door of their house.
Sheikh is being sued by the Bahraini regime for performing his religious duty in receiving the Khums (alms) money, which refers to the historically required religious obligation of Muslims to pay one-fifth of the surplus of a business income during a financial year.
Sheikh Isa’s first hearing was held in the presence of the plaintiffs and judges only. The courtroom was cleared for them to claim whatever they wanted. The defendant; however, did not even care for the trial, nor the court.
On 20 June 2016, a week after the government of Bahrain suspended the Shiite opposition group al-Wefaq, Isa Qassim was stripped of his Bahraini citizenship. After the decision was announced, several hundred supporters of the opposition leader gathered outside his house in the village of Diraz, carrying posters and chanting religious slogans.
Since his citizenship was revoked, Sheikh Qassim did not stop issuing opposing statements in his name along with other senior Bahraini Shiite clerics. He even could not care less for the decision that revoked his citizenship.
Regarding international laws, no political authority has the right to revoke the citizenship of an indigenous citizen over peaceful opposition.
It has been speculated that Sheikh is doing so to challenge the regime, stir up the situation or provoke further escalation, but he did not attended the trial only to say that he did not recognize Bahraini regime’s court.
He simply did not appear before the court, because if Sheikh Isa had accepted to appear before the judge to prove his innocence, it would have meant that he was giving value for these charges. Raising such charges against a person like Sheikh Isa Qassim is considered an ethical and social crime.
The peaceful Bahraini Sheikh Isa has previously prevented the eruption of a civil war after Al Khalifa heavy crack down on Bahraini revolutionaries in 2011.