As a new wave of protests has erupted in Bahrain, the authorities have filed a lawsuit to close a Shia Muslim clerics' council, accusing it of operating illegally and being involved in politics, the justice ministry said on Monday.
According to agencies, the ministry said it wanted the office of the Olamaa Islamic Council to be closed and its assets liquidated for "functioning outside the law."
The lawsuit came as authorities in the Sunni-ruled monarchy crack down on opposition action by Shias, who make up the majority of the population in the Gulf archipelago.
The council, which is led by prominent cleric Issa Qassem, "violates the constitution and the laws of the kingdom," the ministry said, accusing its members of "using it to practice politics under a confessional cover."
The council also "adopted the call for the so-called revolution," the ministry charged, referring to the protests against the government, which erupted in February 2011 and were dispersed a month later.
Meanwhile, a Bahraini court jailed on Sunday three dissidents for 10 years each after convicting them of attempting to kill police officers during anti-government protests, lawyers said.
The trio, Jaafar Ali, Hussain Mansur and Mustafa Abdulkarim, had been charged of attempting to kill three policemen "with premeditation" on February 16, in the village of Karzakan, southwest of Manama.
The public prosecution had also accused the men of "possessing homemade shotguns, as well as employing violence against police, and participating in an unauthorized protest."
Home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet and strategically situated across the Persian Gulf from Iran, Bahrain still sees demonstrations on almost daily basis.
According to the International Federation for Human Rights, around 80 people have been killed in Bahrain since the violence first broke out in 2011.
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