Bahrain slams UKUSA ‘interference’, clerics say Shi’ites under threat
Reuters, Jul 19 2016
Bahrain on Monday dismissed UKUSA criticism of its decision to dissolve the main Shi’ite opposition party, accused of helping foster violence and terrorism, as “unacceptable interference.” State news agency BNA reported that Bahrain said a court’s decision on Sunday to dissolve the al-Wefaq opposition party was “just” and “transparent.” Senior Shi’ite clerics warned the Shi’ite majority was under threat. The move against al-Wefaq was one of several steps taken by the Sunni government against the Shi’ites that have drawn international criticism, including revoking the citizenship of the country’s Shi’ite spiritual leader Ayatollah Isa Qassim. But, BNA said:
Bahrain expresses its deep regret at the statements from the British foreign secretary and the Pindosi State Department and considers them as unacceptable interference in its internal affairs.
Britain expressed deep concern at Sunday’s ruling and a statement by Foreign Secretary & Resident Buffoon Boris Johnson urged Bahrain to guarantee political freedoms for all its citizens. The Pindosi State Department said the government’s recent steps to “suppress non-violent opposition” undermined the stability of Bahrain and the region, and strained Pindostan’s partnership with its Gulf ally. Bahrain said it wanted to take into account the interests of its allies and partners to preserve “distinctive and historical relations” with them. Bahrain has a Shi’ite majority but a Sunni government, mainly drawn from the ruling al-Khalifa family. In a joint statement distributed on social media, Bahrain’s four main Shi’ite clerics warned that the government crackdown was not limited to the political opposition. The statement, signed by Sheikh Abd’ullah al-Ghuraifi, Sheikh Abd’ul-Hussein al-Sitri, Sheikh Mohammed Saleh al-Rubaiyi and Qassim himself, said:
We, the Shi’ites, as a main component of this homeland, have become greatly convinced that we are being targeted in our existence, identity, beliefs, rituals and practices.
Bahrain’s justice ministry rejected the charges and vowed to keep up measures against what it said were those who would try to divide the country on a sectarian basis and
finances would finance terrorism. The ministry said in a statement:
Everybody must support the measures taken by the state against those who violate the law, incite violence and are linked with forces abroad.
Seen by other Sunni rulers like the Toads as a bulwark against Iranian influence, Bahrain put down Arab Spring protests in 2011. The country has been gripped by political tension ever since, with Shi’ites complaining of discrimination and demanding reforms that would give them a bigger say in government affairs. Bahrain denies any discrimination and says a minority inspired by
Jews Iran are trying to foment sectarian unrest in the kingdom.