Iraq

Grand Shia cleric calls for Salman’s immediate release

Iraq’s most senior Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, has called on the Bahraini government to immediately release the opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman.

An informed source in the coalition of United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) on Wednesday disclosed information on Ayatollah Sistani’s dissatisfaction over the detention of Sheikh Salman by the Bahraini government.

Bahraini forces on Sunday arrested Sheikh Salman who leads Bahrain’s main opposition bloc, al-Wefaq National Islamic Society. Manama announced Tuesday that the cleric was remanded in custody for a week pending further questioning.

According to informed source, Iraq’s Deputy Parliament Speaker Humam Hamoudi has held a meeting with Bahrain’s ambassador to Iraq in which he voiced Ayatollah Sistani’s objection to Salman’s arrest, Iraq’s Nahrain news network reported.

The ambassador vowed to inform Bahraini government about Ayatollah Sistani’s opposition to the move, the source said.

“Ayatollah Sistani views Salman’s arrest as not beneficial to Bahrain. The senior cleric has called for Salman’s immediate release and has asked the Bharaini government to apologize for the move,” the source quoted Ayatollah Sistani as saying.

Bahrain’s arrest of Sheikh Salman came as the 49-year old respected cleric secured a new four-year term at al-Wefaq’s general congress last Friday.

Since mid-February 2011, thousands of protesters have held numerous rallies in the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.

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