2016: Bahrain King Settles Account with Sheikh Isa Qassim.. Citizenship Revoked then Trial (Timeline)
2017-01-04 - 12:11 am
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Bahrain Mirror: On June 20, 2016, the authorities revoked the nationality of Bahraini Shiite spiritual leader Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim.
On the diplomatic level, Washington clearly expressed its outrage over this step which it deemed "arbitrary". Meanwhile, Paris and London expressed their concerns as Berlin considered the revocation of Sheikh Qassim's citizenship a threat to Bahraini society.
The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard commented on the decision saying "the Al Khalifa (rulers of Bahrain) surely know their aggression against Sheikh Isa Qassim is a red line which if crossed would set Bahrain and the whole region on fire." Similar statements were then issued by the Revolutionary Guard and Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi).
In the same context, the highest Shiite religious authority in Iraq Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Al-Sistani made a phone call to Sheikh Qassim to check on him after he was stripped of his nationality. On the other hand, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stressed that "attacking Ayatollah Qassim would put an end to the peaceful approach of the movement in Bahrain."
Senior Shia scholars, hawzas, clerics as well as prominent Shiite political figures in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon also condemned the measure taken by the Bahraini authorities. However, the open sit-in protest that was launched and held outside Sheikh Isa Qassim's house once the authorities announced stripping him of his citizenship was said to be the most significant reaction. It is to mention that Bahrainis continued their open rally despite the stifling siege on Diraz and the arrest of dozens of citizens over participation in the protest.
However, all of these did not stop the authorities that decided to refer Sheikh Qassim to trial over practicing the obligatory Shiite religious Khums (alms) ritual, which they considered as "money laundering". Sheikh Isa, for his part, ignored the issue.
Sheikh Qassim continued to issue statements along with senior Shiite clerics. He refused to attend the court hearings and did not assign a lawyer. The ministry of justice failed to assign any Shiite lawyer, thus, it assigned attorney Abdulrahman Al-Khashram to defend the head of Sheikh Isa Qassim's office Sheikh Hussein Al-Mahrous who was brought to the court by force.
Throughout the past six months, i.e. after the authorities revoked Sheikh Qassim's citizenship, the authorities tried to test the pulse of protestors rallying outside Sheikh Qassim's house. The most famous attempt to put an end to the open rally took place on December 21, 2016, when the security forces raided the protest square and clashed with protestors for about 2 hours, before the forces withdrew from the village.
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