Bahrain

Top Bahraini Cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim to Travel Abroad for Hospital Care

Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid Al Khalifa on Friday wrote on Twitter that King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa had allowed Sheikh Isa Qassim to travel to the United Kingdom for medical care.

The minister wrote that King Hamad will cover all costs for the cleric’s treatment, AP reported.

Sheikh Maytham al-Salman of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights said in a statement that Qassim’s injuries stem from a fall he suffered at home in Diraz, a town west of Manama.

Bahraini security forces have extensively surrounded the house of Sheikh Qassim in Diraz and placed him under house arrest for more than 400 days ago.

The cleric was stripped of his citizenship in June 2016 over accusations that he had used his position to serve foreign interests and promote sectarianism and violence. The cleric was handed a suspended one-year prison term and ordered to pay a huge fine.

The ruling against the prominent Shiite cleric sparked widespread protests and condemnations in Bahrain and around the world.

Bahrain, a close ally of the US in the Persian Gulf region, has been witnessing almost daily protests against the ruling Al Khalifa dynasty since early 2011, with Manama using heavy-handed measures in an attempt to crush the demonstrations.

Scores of Bahrainis have been killed and hundreds of others injured and arrested in the ongoing crackdown on the peaceful demonstrations.

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