Bahrain’s fourth high criminal court decided in its Sunday session to postpone the verdict issuance in the case of Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, and members of his office Sheikh Hussein Al-Mahrous and Mirza Al-Dirazi until May 21. A preliminary sentence was expected to be issued against Ayatollah Qassim over the charge of collecting Khums (alms paid by Shiite Muslims), which was considered by the authorities a crime of “raising money without a license”.
This is the second time the court postpones issuing the verdict, as last March 14, 2017, the court had postponed its issuance date until today.
Thousands of Bahrainis have been protesting outside the house of Ayatollah Qassim in Diraz since June 20, 2016, when the authorities revoked his citizenship, which made the authorities impose strict siege on the village resided by over 20,000 citizens.
UN urged to intervene
The postponement comes after human rights organizations called on diplomatic missions of the UN Human Rights Council member-states to intervene in the trial of Ayatollah Qassim, the most prominent Islamic leader in Bahrain.
Salam for Democracy and Human Rights, Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, and the Persian Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, addressed the diplomatic missions and demanded them to “step up their pressure on the government of Bahrain, through urging it to terminate the citizenship revocation verdict, and end the unfair trial against Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim.”
In their address, the organizations stressed on the “importance of demanding Bahrain to end the siege on Diraz, and put an end to the security deployment in the area to ensure freedom of movement.”
Earlier, Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society Secretary General Sheikh Ali Salman called on the Bahraini authorities to “rationalize” in reference to the verdict that was expected to be issued today against Ayatollah Qassim.
In a phone call from “Jaw Central Prison” where he is imprisoned, Sheikh Ali called on the authorities to be prudent, to restrain itself and to not drag the country into a deep abyss.”
Sheikh Salman, whose Al-Wefaq party is banned, has been in prison since December 2014 on charges of attempting to overthrow the regime and collaborating with foreign powers, which he has denied. Ayatollah Qassim is the spiritual leader of al-Wefaq.
The postponement of the much awaited verdict comes days after Saudi Arabia deployed more troops to Bahrain in anticipation of the tiny kingdom violently exploding after the ruling.
Harsh reaction scares Bahraini regime
The ruling Al Khalifa regime in Manama has most likely postponed the verdict on Ayatollah Qassim in fear of the expected harsh reaction by Bahrainis to any verdict that would violate the rights and sanctities of the revered Islamic scholar.
Bahrainis clad in shrouds, indicating readiness to sacrifice their lives, on Sunday rallied in support of their most senior Islamic scholar vowing to protect him to the last man.
Shiite Islamic scholars had earlier called on all Bahrainis to take to the streets across the nation in solidarity with Ayatollah Qassim.
The anti-regime Coalition Youth of 14 Feb Revolution had released a statement, warning of drastic measures. The movement said it considered any potential “tyrannous” court ruling against Ayatollah Qassim to be void.
Persecution of the Islamic cleric, it said, is in line with systematic targeting of the island’s Shiite majority and rooted in political and tribal vendetta.
Bahraini regime serving Western, Israeli agenda
The statement added that the Al Khalifa regime’s action against the leading Islamic scholars is taking place within the framework of implementing US, British and Israeli agenda in Bahrain and the region, and comes in the wake of defeats suffered by Saudi Arabia and its allies.
Anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular Islamic uprising began in the kingdom on February 14, 2011.
On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to Bahrain to help the Manama regime in its brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters.
Many have been killed, and thousands jailed and tortured, while many have seen their citizenship revolved in the ensuing repression by the regime. However, Bahrainis have not relented in their demands for freedom and democracy.
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