Press TV – Bahraini police have fired tear gas at supporters of revered Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim, whose life is in danger under a prolonged house arrest.
Local media said security forces dispersed the protesters who attempted to gather outside Sheikh Qassim’s residence in the northwestern village of Diraz on Saturday night.
Demonstrations were also held elsewhere in Bahrain in solidarity with the clergyman.
Qassim, the spiritual leader of Bahrain’s dissolved opposition bloc the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, had his citizenship revoked last June over accusations that he had used his position to serve foreign interests and promote sectarianism and violence. The cleric has denied the allegations.
Since then, Sheikh Qassim who is in his 70s has been confined to house arrest, resulting in the deterioration of his health condition.
Earlier this week, human rights groups raised the alarm over Qassem’s worsening health condition.
“The Bahraini government holds the full responsibility of Sheikh Isa Qassim’s well-being, as it imposed the house arrest and controls his access to medical treatment,” said Sheikh Maytham al-Salman, a prominent Bahraini rights defender.
In May this year, Sheikh Qassim was given a one-year suspended sentence on charges of illegal fundraising and money laundering, which his supporters denounced as a sham prosecution.
Over the past months, the Bahrainis have staged numerous sit-ins in front of Qassim’s house in Diraz which is under the siege of the regime forces.
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.