SHAFAQNA – A top Bahraini opposition figure said 18 prominent clerics are behind bars in the tiny Persian Gulf country on political charges. “Bahrain’s establishment is the only one in the world where prominent clerics and religious scholars are held in prisons,” Sheikh Abdullah Saleh, the under-secretary-general of Bahrain’s Islamic Action Society (Al Amal), said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency. He emphasized that from among the 18 clerics who are in custody in Bahrain, 16 have been sentenced to imprisonment.
The top opposition figure said the clerics’ prison terms amount to 313 years in total. Sheikh Saleh added that the two other clerics, including Secretary General of al-Wefaq National Islamic Society Sheikh Ali Salman, whose detention has sparked massive protests in Bahrain, have not received prison sentences. Sheikh Salman was arrested in late December 2014 over alleged anti-regime incitements. Manama accused him of seeking regime change and collaborating with foreign powers.
Bahrain, a staunch ally of the United States in the Persian Gulf region, has been witnessing almost daily protests against the ruling Al Khalifa dynasty since early 2011, with Manama using heavy-handed measures in an attempt to crush the demonstrations.Scores of Bahrainis have been killed and hundreds of others injured and arrested in the ongoing crackdown on the peaceful demonstrations.