Iranian official urges Bahraini regime to avoid fanning flames of ethnic strife

Tasnim – The vice-chairman of Iran’s Assembly of Experts strongly condemned the Bahraini regime for its recent “inhumane aggression” against peaceful protests in the Persian Gulf country and urged Manama to avoid fanning the flames of ethnic strife.   

In a statement released on Saturday morning, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi decried recent killings of Bahraini youths and desecration of Sheikh Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of the Shiite majority in the kingdom.

“We strongly condemn the savage and inhumane aggression in response to peaceful conducts of a gathering of youths of Diraz, which led to the killing and wounding of a large number of them and desecration of the house of the great cleric, Sheikh Isa Ahmad Qassim and his family,” he said in the statement.

Ayatollah Shahroudi further advised the Bahraini regime to refrain from dealing with the people in such a way that would fan the flames of ethnic strife in the near future and to enter into serious dialogue with the opposition.

The statement comes as the Bahraini people continue nationwide demonstrations in various cities and villages in solidarity with Sheikh Qassim.

During peaceful rallies in the past few days, protesters condemned the ruling Al Khalifa regime for attacking the house of Sheikh Qassim.

In the raid on Monday, regime forces shot dead at least six demonstrators, wounded dozens and arrested over 280 people.

The raid followed a Bahraini court ruling on Sunday that sentenced Sheikh Qassim to one year in prison. Based on the verdict, the cleric’s properties worth three million Bahraini dinars (near $8 million) have been also confiscated. Moreover, Sheikh Qassim has been sentenced to pay a fine of 1,000 Bahraini dinars (about $2,650).

Bahrain, a close ally of the US in the Persian Gulf, has been witnessing almost daily protests against the Al Khalifa dynasty since early 2011, with security forces resorting to harsh measures against demonstrators.

Scores of Bahrainis have been killed and hundreds of others injured and arrested in the ongoing crackdown on the peaceful protests.