2023 Portfolios: Sheikh Mohammad Sanqour Arrested Amidst Regime's Irritation at Imam Al-Sadiq Mosque's Role

During a Friday sermon at the Imam Al-Sadiq Mosque in Diraz, Sheikh Mohammad Sanqour stands beside the Palestinian flag
During a Friday sermon at the Imam Al-Sadiq Mosque in Diraz, Sheikh Mohammad Sanqour stands beside the Palestinian flag

2024-02-23 - 1:03 p

Bahrain Mirror (2023 Portfolios): The Bahraini regime's latest escalatory move in the year 2023 took the form of the arrest of Sheikh Mohammad Sanqour, the imam of the Imam Al-Sadiq Mosque in Diraz. This arrest evoked memories of the most intense escalation phase, marked by the arrest of Sheikh Ali Salman, the revocation of Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim's citizenship, and the closure of Al-Wefaq headquarters.

The decision to arrest Sheikh Sanqour followed the resurgence of Imam Al-Sadiq Mosque's pivotal role in amplifying the Shiite community's voice on a weekly basis. The mosque became a platform for addressing current local and regional events, conveying political messages, and advocating for the release of political prisoners and comprehensive reform to resolve the longstanding political crisis since 2011.

Sheikh Sanqour, along with Sheikh Ali Rahma and Sheikh Ali Al-Sadadi, played a leading role in guiding the worshippers at Imam Al-Sadiq Mosque in Diraz. This prominence began to unsettle the authorities, prompting orchestrated attacks from government-controlled newspapers and media outlets, which sought to portray the mosque's activities as regressive.

The authorities' intolerance towards Sheikh Sanqour's discourse delivered from the mosque's platform became evident when he was arrested on May 22. His arrest came after he criticized recent changes to school curricula that downplayed significant historical Muslim events in the context of normalization with Israel. These changes had sparked discontent among both Sunni and Shiite communities, prompting intervention from the crown prince to address the issue.

According to reports from the Bahrain News Agency (BNA) at the time, Sheikh Sanqour's arrest followed a phone call between Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Bahraini counterpart Abdullatif Al-Zayani. Subsequently, protests erupted across Bahrain. Sheikh Sanqour was released three days later.

His release was met with widespread support, as thousands of citizens gathered to celebrate and congratulate him, sending a clear message about the people's determination to defend their symbols by any means necessary. This popular demonstration of support displeased the authorities, leading to the summoning and intimidation of the head of the Sanabis funeral/mourning hall due to the large reception ceremony.

The authorities' targeted moves didn't stop there. Following the organized media campaign against the Friday platform at the Imam Al-Sadiq Mosque in Diraz, the Ministry of Justice issued a statement warning that it "will not tolerate any attempt aimed at reiterating discourse of inflammatory, escalatory nature," in an implicit reference to taking action against the mosque and its imams; however, this did not deter neither Friday imams nor worshipers from observing the Friday ritual.

On two occasions, the authorities blocked the entrances to Diraz on Friday to prevent people from attending the mosque, a measure that was not new and lasted for more than a year after the revocation of Sheikh Isa Qassim's citizenship.

Despite the regime's efforts to stifle dissent, including a media smear campaign, warnings from the Ministry of Justice, and harassment by the Ministry of Interior, the discourse at the Imam Al-Sadiq Mosque remained unchanged. The Imam Al-Sadiq Mosque continued to draw thousands of worshippers from across Bahrain, with Sheikh Sanqour persisting in his duties and maintaining a critical stance against the authorities.

Arabic Version