Ashura 2018: Multiple Arrests of Preachers, Eulogy Reciters, Mourners and Obsequies’ Organizers
2018-09-26 - 2:25 am
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The Ashura season ended in Bahrain with organized central mourning processions held in Sitra.
Despite restrictions and absence of the most prominent religious figures such as the Shia spiritual leader in the country, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, and opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman, hundreds of people commemorated this occasion and participants flooded the Hussainiat (Shia congregation halls) and streets to take part in the special ceremonies of Ashura, commemorated by Shiites around the globe and which still represents a symbol for fighting oppression and tyranny.
Arrests continued over the 10 days of commemoration. Ashura participants were arrested. A mourner who participated in Al-Daih central mourning procession held on the 11th of Muharram each year was taken into custody. The Ministry of Interior said on its twitter page that the arrest of the youth came after clashes with security forces that followed the mourning procession, accusing a group of mourners of attacking the street, disrupting traffic after the Ashura procession, throwing stones and starting fires, warning that the rest would be apprehended as well.
The authorities blocked all entrances leading to Al-Daih before the launch of the mourning procession, in order to decrease the number of participants to a minimum. For eight years, protestors were used to taking to the streets on this occasion after the end of the mourning procession, marching towards reach LauLua Roundabout, the heart of historic protests in 201, which is located near Al-Daih.
The authorities also stated that they arrested Haj Majid, known as Haj Sumoud, for taking part in an unlicensed mourning procession.
Another mourning procession that passed through the streets of Nuwaidrat, as mourners chanted anti-regime slogans on Thursday (September 20, 2018), 11th of Muharram, was repressed too. Dozens of Nuwaidrat residents took part in the mourning procession that has been annually staged since 2011, and held photos of political prisoners and opposition leaders.
Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry summoned for interrogation a number of Shiite citizens who performed prayers in Manama and participated in the mourning processions of the 10th of Muharram eve (September 19, 2018). Reports said that mourners were summoned over holding photos of Sheikh Isa Qassim.
Until 2014, the central Ashura prayers had been held in Manama and led by Ayatollah sheikh Isa Qassim or Sheikh Ali Salman. However, the authorities have imprisoned Sheikh Salman and revoked the citizenship of Sheikh Qassim before putting him under house arrest.
Protestors in several areas clashed with security forces, who removed the black Ashura flags and banners, which residents hang each year in their villages.
Security forces were still on alert until the early hours of the morning in a number of villages and cities across the country with vehicles and armed civilians to remove the Ashura banners and flags. They also ordered a mourning procession to take down a photo of Sheikh Isa Qassim. Bahraini security forces also destroyed, as they do every year, several kiosks where food and drinks are offered to mourners.
Head of Ras Rumman obsequy Shaker Al-Majed, eulogy reciter Sayed Mahmoud Al-Wadaie and sayed Hussein Al-Mousawi were also arrested.
The Public Prosecution also apprehended Mohammad Bu Hamid and Abdullah Bu Rashid, the organizers of the Imam Al-Rida obsequy in Al-Malikiya village. The organizers' arrests came after a mourning procession passed through the village as it has always done on the ninth of Muharram, and after protestors wrote the king's name on the streets to be stomped on by mourners.
Although preachers and obsequy organizers censored the content of sermons, lectures and poems, the security authorities arrested five preachers over charges related to their lectures that are usually broadcast via YouTube.
Among the arrested was Sheikh Yasin Al-Jamri who expressed regret over the situation of wanted Bahrainis in one of his lectures.
Sheikh Hani Al-Bana'a, one of the prominent clerics who delivers religious and educational lectures was also taken into custody. The grounds of his arrest were unclear since the cleric's lectures only include cultural and social criticism from a religious perspective.
Prominent preacher Sheikh Mohammad Al-Rayyash was arrested as well, although his lectures are not aired like the rest of the preachers. Sheikh Majid Al-Sahlawi was also among the arrested.
Sayed Kamel Al-Hashimi was arrested after he published a comment on his Instagram in which he criticized the government over the arrests of preachers.
The authorities summoned 11 other preachers over the charge of inciting hatred against the government in their religious lectures and then released them, according to activists.
Sheikh Ali Al-Jufairi, Sheikh Mounir Al-Maatouk, Sheikh Jaafar Al-Sitri, Sheikh Jasim Al-Damistani, Sayed Sadiq Al-Ghuraifi, Sheikh Mahdi Al-Karzakani, Sayed Mohieldin Al-Mashaal, Sheikh Mohammad Al-Sheikh, Mulla Mohammad Al-Mulla and Sheikh Bashar Al-A'ali were among those summoned.
It seems that the security authorities, namely the National Security Apparatus, seriously and meticulously monitors the content of Ashura sermons delivered on platforms of obsequies. However, this didn't stop the obsequies from airing their lectures.
Ashura ended in Bahrain and its voice remained loud and clear, but it was accompanied by oppression and harassment as each year.
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