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Bahraini regime forces attack supporters of Sheikh Qassim

Bahraini regime forces have fired tear gas canisters to disperse dozens of demonstrators, who were out on the streets in protest at the ruling Al Khalifah’s decision to strip prominent Shia Muslim cleric Sheikh Issa Qassim of his citizenship.

On Saturday, protesters converged on a square in the northwestern village of Diraz, west of the capital Manama, chanting slogans in support of the 79-year-old spiritual leader of Bahrain’s main opposition bloc, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.

Fierce scuffles erupted when regime forces stormed the protest site, and used tear gas to disperse the crowd. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Elsewhere in the western coastal village of Dumistan, Bahraini soldiers raided a number of houses and ransacked them. They arrested a young man, identified as Ali Mohammed Habib al-Dhaif, and seized all his electrical devices.

Additionally, Bahraini regime forces broke into several houses in Manama’s suburban neighborhood of Juffair, detaining a youth.

Bahraini authorities stripped Sheikh Qassim of his citizenship on June 20.

They have closed the offices of al-Wefaq, whose secretary general, Sheikh Ali Salman, himself a prominent Shia cleric, has been in prison since December 2014.

Regime officials also dissolved opposition al-Risala Islamic Association and Islamic Enlightenment Institution, founded by Sheikh Qassim.

The latest demonstration came a day after a Bahraini appeals court upheld the decision to dissolve al-Wefaq.

Leading human rights group Amnesty International strongly denounced the move as “a flagrant attack on freedom of expression and association and a brazen attempt to suppress criticism of the government in Bahrain.”

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.

Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in Manama’s crackdown on anti-regime activists.

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