Scores of people have held separate protests in Bahrain to support prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim and condemn the ongoing crackdown on pro-democracy activists.
Demonstrations were staged in the northwestern village of Diraz, where the cleric’s home is located, Bilad al-Qadeem, a suburb of the capital, Manama, and the northern villages of al-Qadam and Abu Saiba on Saturday.
Protesters, carrying images of Sheikh Qassim and a number of jailed activists, chanted slogans against the ruling Al Khalifah regime. They also called on the Manama regime to clarify the fate of a number of political detainees who are deprived of meeting their families and relatives.
Sheikh Qassim is the spiritual leader of Bahrain’s dissolved opposition bloc, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, who was stripped of his citizenship on June last year over accusations that he used his position to serve foreign interests and promote "sectarianism" and "violence." He has denied the allegations.
The religious leader has been imprisoned ever since. Judicial authorities summon him to periodical trials, which they keep postponing on the grounds that they have not arrived at a definitive verdict concerning his charges.
Demonstrators in Diraz also expressed strong dissent over the regime’s decision to cut internet connections and cellular coverage in the village for the past six months.