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Bahraini protesters support senior Shia cleric Sheikh Qassim

Hundreds of people have taken to the streets in Bahrain to vent their anger at the ongoing crackdown by the ruling Al Khalifah family on dissent, demanding the immediate lifting of a regime ban on Friday prayers.  

The protesters staged a rally in the northwestern village of Diraz, situated about 12 kilometers west of the capital Manama, on Friday, expressing their solidarity with senior Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim.

On June 20, Bahraini authorities stripped the 79-year-old cleric of his citizenship, less than a week after suspending the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, the country’s main opposition bloc, and dissolving the Islamic Enlightenment Institution, founded by Qassim, and the opposition al-Risala Islamic Association.

Protesters planned to convene in front of Sheikh Qassim’s residence, but security forces prevented them from approaching his house.

Similar anti-regime demonstrations were held in a number of other villages, where the protesters condemned the Al Khalifah regime for its persecution of the Shia community.

The rally in the village of Sitra, south of Manama, turned violent when security forces fired teargas at protesters, who were demanding the release of Sayed Alawi Hussain Alawi, a Bahraini citizen from Diraz whose fate remains unknown ever since regime forces arrested him at his office on October 24.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country on February 14, 2011. The protesters demand that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power.

Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the regime’s crackdown.

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