SHAFAQNA – A political analyst says a recent decision by a Bahraini court to postpone the trial of top Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim clearly shows the ruling Al Khalifah regime has badly failed in its heavy-handed crackdown on the ethnic Shia Muslim majority.
Saeed Shehabi, a political activist from Bahrain Freedom Movement in London, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Wednesday.
“So, what happened yesterday when the regime postponed the verdict on the sentence on the Sheikh Isa Qassim, when they did that, it was clear that the orders from above, from the masters of the regime did not sanction the issuing of this verdict.”
A Bahraini court on Tuesday delayed the verdict in the case of the top Shia cleric, whose nationality was revoked last year. The court had earlier set March 14 as the date to issue its ruling on Sheikh Qassim’s case, but it adjourned its decision until May 7.
Sheikh Qassim and some of his fellow clergymen are accused of money laundering and raising funds without licenses in connection with the practice of Khums, a religious tax which followers of Islam pay to religious authorities for use in charities and other donations.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Shehabi said a series of fresh anti-regime demonstrations across the Persian Gulf kingdom in support of the distinguished Shia opposition cleric shows widespread discontent with the Saudi-backed regime in Bahrain.
“So, people went to demonstrate before and after the decision to postpone the verdict and the regime as usual used firepower to counter unarmed demonstrators. That also adds to the predicament and the ill-feeling towards the Al Khalifah occupiers and the Saudi backers.”
On Monday, people held mass protests in more than 50 Bahraini villages, among them Qassim’s hometown, Diraz.
The rallies came after Bahraini clerics released a joint statement and called on all fellow citizens to show their solidarity with the cleric, stressing that the people’s unwavering support for him is the “religious duty” of all Muslims.
Pointing to heavy-handed tactics by Manama to curb the ongoing popular uprising, the commentator went on to say that the regime was adding fuel to the fire by targeting the country’s local Shia population and their religious sensitivities.
“So, by picking up a fight on Sheikh Isa Qassim, the regime has only added to its own problems, even the allies of Al Khalifah cannot sustain that war on the religious grounds.”
“You cannot enter a religious war with the people, with the natives of the [country], you cannot accuse them of blasphemy or religious misconduct on that basis just because Sheikh Isa Qassim was collecting the religious dues, which is his duty to do so [it] does not constitute a crime under any law even under its own constitution that he imposed on the people.”
“The regime has lost the card there by picking up a fight with Sheikh Isa Qassim. They chose the wrong target and … to use the religious beliefs as a basis for charges and for accusations simply [that] does not work.”
The analyst concluded by saying that the Al Khalifa regime must review its dictatorial policies and refrain from using the force to curb demonstrations.
“So, I believe that the Al Khalifah regime would do better if just it refrains from using power.”
“Six years of using destructive and fatal power did not deter the people from taking to streets and demonstrating and it is not going to deter them any further. The people will continue. There must be a fundamental change in the politics of the country and the Al Khalifah tribal dictatorship cannot be allowed to continue forever.”