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Bahrain Shia cleric released from jail following protests

May 25, 2023 at 4:39 pm

Bahraini police in the capital Manama [Sara Hassan / Al Jazeera / Flickr]

A prominent Bahraini Shia scholar has been released by authorities, days after being arrested over calling for the release of political prisoners.

Sheikh Muhammad Sanqour’s release was announced today by the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) and comes after protestors were joined by scholars to denounce the recent arrest of prominent Shia imam Sheikh Muhammad Sanqour and have called for his release.

Sheikh Sanqour, the Friday prayers leader of Imam Al-Sadiq Mosque in Diraz village, was detained on Monday. According to the Gulf state’s main, yet outlawed, opposition group AlWefaq National Islamic Society, a number of security forces surrounded his house before handing him a summons for interrogation at a local police station and being taken before the Public Prosecution Office (OPP).

Hours later, a statement from the interior ministry said his case was being referred to OPP over “repeated inflammatory speeches that included legal violations” and “publicly inciting hatred and contempt for a group of people.”

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Middle East Eye reported that his arrest was believed to be linked to comments made during last week’s Friday sermon, in which he raised concerns about the mistreatment of prisoners in the kingdom’s jails.

“We call upon the relevant authorities to reassure the families of prisoners about their loved ones, as it has come to their knowledge that a number of prisoners have been subjected to abuse and physical violence. Some have been subjected to isolation, solitary confinement, and deprivation of adequate healthcare,” he said during his sermon.

Since the scholar’s arrest, protestors have poured out into the streets across parts of the country, demanding his release, while a statement issued by Bahraini scholars said that Sheikh Sanqour “is a well-known scholar, who is only known for his integrity in approach, honesty in his logic, concern for his religion and homeland, and for his advice for the interest of the homeland and people.”

“We see no reason for summoning, interrogating and arresting him. We demand his releases, as the country is in dire need of establishing an atmosphere of calmness and harmony,” the statement added.

Majeed Milad, a leader of the AlWefaq was quoted as saying, “Sheikh Sanqour is a scholarly figure with high social prominence,” expressing full solidarity with him while Bahrain’s senior Shia scholar, Sheikh Isa Qassim also branded Sanqour’s arrest as a “Zionist demand”, stressing that “the people of Bahrain will not surrender and sacrifice their scholars and leaders.”

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