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Bahrain

Bahraini demonstrators stand in solidarity with Sheikh Qassem

qasemBahraini demonstrators have taken to the streets in a village outside Manama to express solidarity with prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Issa Qassem.

The protesters held pictures of the clergyman during a protest against the ruling Al Khalifa regime in the village of Abu Saiba, west of the capital, on Friday.

Earlier in the day, Bahraini forces raided Sheikh Issa Qassem’s home in the village of Duraz and searched the house.

Women and children of the sheikh’s family were in the house at the time of the raid, but the sheikh was not at home.

Born in 1937, Sheikh Issa Qassem is often referred to as the spiritual leader of Bahrain’s main opposition party, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.

The Bahraini uprising began in mid-February 2011, when the people, inspired by the popular revolutions that toppled the dictators of Tunisia and Egypt, started holding massive demonstrations.

The Bahraini government promptly launched a brutal crackdown on the peaceful protests and called in Saudi-led Arab forces from neighboring states.

Dozens of people have been killed in the crackdown, and the security forces have arrested hundreds, including doctors and nurses accused of treating injured revolutionaries.

A report published by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry in November 2011 found that the Al Khalifa regime had used excessive force in the crackdown and accused Manama of torturing political activists, politicians, and protesters.

Bahrainis say they will continue holding demonstrations until their demand for the establishment of a democratically elected government is met.

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