Bahraini protesters have defied Manama’s warning against holding more public gatherings and stayed on the streets in a show of anger against the regime’s bloody crackdown on Diraz, the home village of prominent cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim.
Several videos, released late Wednesday, show hundreds of Bahraini protesters, including women and children, holding peaceful protests against the ruling Aal-e Khalifa regime.
Other footage shows protests turn violent after regime forces fired tear gas at the demonstrators.
The escalation comes despite a Wednesday statement by the Bahraini Interior Ministry, which warned against “any gathering or incitement” to protest.
The ministry issued the warning a day after police stormed into the home of Sheikh Qassim, prompting clashes with the cleric’s supporters. During the raid, regime forces shot dead at least six demonstrators, wounded dozens and arrested over 280 people.
The fresh wave of ant-regime protests began on May 21, when a Bahraini court convicted Sheikh Qassim of illegal collection of funds and money laundering and sentenced him to one year in jail and ordered him to pay $265,266 in fines.
The cleric had been under house arrest for several months, but his fate has been unclear since Bahraini forces raided his house on Tuesday and arrested everyone there.
According to the Beirut-based al-Mayadeen TV channel, the Bahraini regime was planning to force Sheikh Qassim into exile in Iraq, but Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi rejected Manama’s request in a show of support for the religious leader.
Human rights groups have condemned Bahrain for its deadly crackdown on people in Diraz that took place right after US President Donald Trump left Saudi Arabia, where he met Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Aal-e Khalifah.
Riyadh, whose forces have been helping the Bahraini military in suppressing anti-regime protests over the past years, came to Manama’s defense on Wednesday, saying the Bahraini kingdom is “an integral part” of Saudi Arabia’s security.