A court in Bahrain has sentenced distinguished Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim to one year in prison, suspended for three years, and ordered him to pay a fine.
The court issued the ruling on Sunday against Qassim, the spiritual leader of Bahrain’s dissolved opposition bloc the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, Bahrain’s al-Wasat newspaper reported.
Qassim had his citizenship revoked last June over accusations that he used his position to serve foreign interests and promote sectarianism and violence. The cleric has denied the allegations.
The report said the Bahraini court had also ordered Qassim to pay a fine of 100,000 Bahraini dinars (over $265,000).
The court further ruled to confiscate Qassim’s properties worth of 3 million Bahraini dinars (almost $8 million) and two of his homes.
Additionally, Hussain al-Qassab and Mirza al-Dirazi, the cleric office’s staffers, were sentenced to one-year imprisonment.
Thousands of Bahrainis took to the streets on Sunday to denounce the ruling against the Shia cleric
Numerous demonstrations have been held to condemn the persecution of the top Bahraini figure over the past months.
Since the revocation of Qassim’s nationality, more than 80 Shia clergymen have been interrogated in Bahrain and at least nine convicted over exercising their right to freedom of assembly and expression.
The Manama regime has set up barriers around the village of Diraz, where Qassim’s home is situated, only allowing locals to pass.
Friday prayers have also been banned in the largest Shia mosque in Bahrain where Sheikh Qassim preached.
Daily anti-regime rallies have been held in the tiny Persian gulf country since the popular uprising began in February 2011.
The demonstrators are demanding that the Al Khalifah family relinquish power and let a just system representing all Bahrainis be established.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others wounded or detained amid Manama’s crackdown on dissent and discrimination against the country’s Shia majority.