Dozens of Shia Muslims have staged a demonstration in Bahrain to condemn a regime-imposed ban on holding Friday prayers in the country and to denounce the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown on the majority Shia community.
On Friday, the protesters marched along the streets in the northwestern village of Diraz, situated about 12 kilometers (seven miles) west of the capital, Manama, after Bahraini regime forces closed roads leading to the Imam Sadiq Mosque and refused to allow Muslims to converge at the place of worship.
The worshipers insisted on their right to perform religious rituals without the regime’s interference, demanding an end to the ongoing sectarian discrimination against them.
Bahraini authorities have either arrested or summoned more than a dozen Shia clerics over the past few weeks.
Bahraini Shia clerics, in a statement titled “Those Barred from Praying” released on June 16, condemned the Manama regime’s efforts to restrict Shia Muslims’ freedom of religion and belief, describing the situation in the country as “deplorable.”
The statement said that the Al Khalifah regime’s systematic suppression of Bahraini Shia Muslims had reached its highest level ever, and members of the kingdom’s largest religious community felt insecure and faced threats of arrest and prosecution if they sought to observe their religious rituals, primarily Friday and other congregational prayers.
Meanwhile, a Bahraini court has passed a one-year prison sentence against Sheikh Ali Humaidan, the imam of the al-Zahra Mosque in the northern town of Hamad on charges of “organizing illegal assemblies.”
Bahraini authorities also handed down a three-year prison sentence to a human rights activist.
Hossein Razi, a member of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said Ghada Jamshir, a rights activist and an ardent campaigner for the reform of the judicial system in Bahrain and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, was arrested at the Bahrain International Airport on August 18.
She was then sentenced to three years in prison on charges of engagement in political activities against the Manama regime, and publishing posts on social media critical of the Al Khalifah dynasty.
Separately, a Bahraini court sentenced nine people to ten years in prison each on charges of “holding unlawful gatherings, disrupting public security and attempting to detonate an improvised explosive device in Muqsha Village west of the capital.”
Anti-regime protesters have staged numerous demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis since February 14, 2011, calling on the Al Khalifah regime to relinquish power.
Troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — themselves repressive Arab regimes — were deployed to the country in March that year to assist the Manama government in its crackdown on peaceful and pro-democracy rallies.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured or arrested in Manama’s crackdown on the anti-regime activists.