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Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman to Le Monde: Verdict against Sheikh Isa Qassim May Lead to High-Level Violence

2017-05-10 - 12:37 am

Bahrain Mirror - Exclusive: Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman said in an interview with French newspaper Le Monde, said that issuing a verdict convicting Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, the supreme Shiite authority in Bahrain, would exacerbate the rage of the Shiite majority.

In the interview conducted by French journalist Hélène Sallon, Sheikh Al-Salman warmed that Sheikh Isa Qassim's trial would result in further escalation.

Concerning the citizenship revocation of the highest religious authority in the country, Sheikh Qassim, who's dubbed one of the Bahraini constitution's founding fathers, Al-Salman said the Shiites see it as an insult.

Sheikh Al-Salman referred to the ongoing sit-in by hundreds in Diraz, in protest against the Royal Decree ruling the revocation of Ayatollah Qassim's citizenship since June 20, 2016. On this level, he indicated that Diraz has been under siege for over 300 days, as the police has imposed its control on all entrances.

He clarified that the issue is not linked to human rights, yet it is also a geopolitical matter, since Bahrain is in the middle of an area that's exposed to conflicts where alliances and sectarian divisions play a big role. He confirmed, "We don't want Bahrain to be like Iraq, Yemen, or Syria," stressing that "the international community ought to help Bahrain find peace and stability through an inclusive dialogue, to guarantee equality among all citizens, and to end discriminative practices against the Shiite community."

Regarding fear of the increase of violence in Bahrain, Sheikh Al-Salman said that "when moderate people are imprisoned and imprisoned, then the way is opened for extremism". He also noted that "when moderate figures like Nabeel Rajab and Sheikh Ali Salman, and others are imprisoned, and when 65% of Bahrainis are subjected to systematic discrimination, and repression becomes a ruling strategy, then it would be normal for resentment and anger to escalate."

"The international community should call on Bahrain to leave civil society working against the messages of violence instead of targeting them," Salman said, adding, "The conviction of Ayatollah Qassim could lead to a high level of violence."

"The Bahraini government, since 2011, committed serious violations that do not only affect the social structure, but also angers the majority of citizens," he went on to say.

"IT is necessary to convince the Bahraini government that dialogue is the only way capable of bringing stability, and it is impossible to silence thousands individuals who were dismissed of their jobs, witnessed their mosques being demolished and their relatives imprisoned," Sheikh Al-Salman affirmed.

"The Bahraini government ought to pursue a path of transitional justice, as well as legislative measure and strategies that would restore back the Bahraini identity over all other religious, tribal, or ethnic identities," he further said.

When asked whether he had hopes of overcoming the Sunni-Shiite sectarian gap, Sheikh Al-Salman said, "There are many opportunities for this crisis to be overcome, but through repressing the civil society, limiting the political space, and imposing complete censorship on civil activities, Bahraini authorities don't give the society leaders the opportunity to play a role and unite Bahrainis again."

Moreover, Sheikh Al-Salman said that "based on Bahrain's history, he is always optimistic, as Bahrainis are mostly farmers and businessmen, and do not seek tribal wars or reprisals."

"Many Bahrainis want to stop discrimination and impose the national identity over others," he said. Sheikh Maytham indicated that Bahrain has long been open through history to other cultures, clarifying that Manama has Shiite cultural centers, in addition to dozens of churches, a Jewish temple, and Buddhist Hindu temples for decades.

"We are a model for peaceful coexistence in the Arabian Peninsula, and I hope we will reach this level again, if the government stopped targeting the civil society," Sheikh Salman concluded.

Arabic Version    


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