Bahrain’s opposition on trial: prominent cleric to be sentenced

Bahrain’s opposition on trial: prominent cleric to be sentenced

The spiritual leader of Bahrain’s Shi’ite community will learn his fate on Sunday after an oft-delayed trial comes to an

Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

The spiritual leader of Bahrain’s Shi’ite community will learn his fate on Sunday after an oft-delayed trial comes to an end.

Bahraini authorities allege Sheikh Isa Qassim received illegal funding to “serve foreign interests” and exacerbate “sectarianism”. Last June the government stripped Qassim of his citizenship, sparking protests and condemnation from Shi’ite leaders in Iran and Lebanon.

In a statement released on Wednesday, senior Shi’ite leaders called on followers to reject Sunday’s decision. Qassim faces up to 15 years in jail if convicted.

While no official reasons were given for previous postponements (February 27 and March 14), it’s believed they were designed to diffuse domestic tensions. Bahrain, a Shi’ite-majority country ruled by a Sunni monarchy, has experienced ongoing, small-scale protests since massive demonstrations in 2011.

Reports have emerged of Saudi security forces crossing into Bahrain ahead of Sunday’s verdict, suggesting a heightened risk of bloodshed should protestors defy authorities.

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