Iranian worshippers protest Bahrain crackdown

May 26, 2017

TEHRAN – Thousands of Iranian worshippers rallied in Tehran and other cities on Friday to condemn a recent raid by Bahraini police on the hometown of a pro-democracy cleric that left five of his supporters dead and 286 arrested.

On Tuesday, Bahraini forces raided the northwestern village of Diraz, the hometown of Sheikh Isa Qassim’s hometown. The forces clashed with people who had gathered to protect Qassim, and stormed into his house.

After Friday prayers in Tehran, demonstrators took to the streets chanting “Death to the House of Khalifa,” referring to the ruling family of Bahrain.

The protesters also chanted “Death to the House of Saud,” for Saudi involvement in cracking down on dissent in Bahrain.

According to IRNA news agency, a number of Bahraini refugees were also seen among the protesters.

Bahrain claimed the Tuesday operation in Diraz was carried out to “maintain security and public order”.

Protests escalated in Bahrain on Monday, a day before the attack, after a Bahraini court convicted Qassim of financial corruption and sentenced him to a suspended one-year jail term.

Qassim’s supporters have been staging protests almost on a daily basis since authorities stripped him of his citizenship last year.

Ever since, the Bahraini government has placed Diraz village under a siege. 

The cleric has been campaigning for a share in governance by the Shias who form the great majority in Bahrain. Human rights groups have been criticizing the Bahraini government for isolating the majority in the country. 

Iran’s Assembly of Experts also issued a statement on Friday strongly condemning Bahrain for its recent brutal act.

According to the Assembly, Bahrain’s inhumane treatment of Sheikh Qassim, aided by the Saudi regime, would create “a tide and a storm that will not subside except with the toppling of the oppressive Al Khalifah system.”

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described the raid as a consequence of the U.S. President Donald Trump's visit to Riyadh over the weekend during which he signed a $110 billion arms deal with the Saudis.

“First concrete result of POTUS (Trump) cozying up to despots in Riyadh: Deadly attack on peaceful protesters by emboldened Bahrain regime,” Zarif tweeted.

He also said on Friday in a New York Times article that a security crackdown in Saudi Arabia “before Mr. Trump’s visit — as well as the Bahraini regime’s deadly attack on a sit-in immediately afterward — suggest that the region’s despots feel that they’ve been given carte blanche to stamp out peaceful dissent.”

MH/PA

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