HRF: Bahrain Targets Clerics in New Wave of Attacks

2016-08-16 - 3:23 p

Bahrain Mirror: Human Rights First (HRF) said that Bahrain continues to attack the leading Shia clerics in the country, stressing that this targeting of Shia religious leaders clearly fuels Bahrain's polarization and undermines efforts to combat sectarianism.

"The Obama Administration should be doing more to prevent this. The country's military is armed, equipped, and trained by the United States yet remains virtually an exclusively Sunni force," highlighted Director of Human Rights Defenders at Human Rights First, Brian Dooley. "The State Department should withhold further support for the security forces until significant progress has been made to integrate the country's majority Shia population into the police and army," he added.

"Absent consequences from its powerful international allies the Bahraini regime seems bent on smothering political opponents, human right activists, and Shia clerics. The U.S. government should be horrified at what's happening and react publicly and forcefully," noted Dooley.

"A visa ban for any official credibly linked to human rights abuses would be a start. Support for the bipartisan legislation in Congress proposing a ban on the sale of small arms to Bahrain until a series of reforms to address religious discrimination and other human rights issues have been fully implemented would be helpful too," he further stated.

Dooley stressed that Sheikh Maytham Al Salman who was summoned for questioning to the Ministry of Interior on Sunday August 14, "is exactly the sort of civil society leader Bahrain needs to be playing a major role in finding a way out of its political crisis."

This comes as a part of an ongoing campaign of reprisals against prominent Shia clerics in the country, as Bahrain's most senior Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, was stripped of his citizenship last June, and faces charges of money laundering.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom report for 2016 had noted "an increase in the number of interrogations, detentions, and arbitrary arrests of Shi'a Muslims, including clerics, for peaceful protests and criticizing the government's human rights and religious freedom record."

"If Bahrain is to pull itself out of this crisis, it must stop the harassment, arrests and jailing of its civil society figures," said HRF's Dooley concluding the statement.

Arabic Version


المصدر: Bahrain Mirror
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