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Struggle to defend religion just started: Bahraini scholars

Bahraini scholars have hailed the endeavors made by anti-government protesters who resist the Aal-e Khalifah regime’s heavy crackdown on dissent, saying their struggle to save their religion has just started.

“The battle for the defense of religion is not over, it has just started,” the Bahraini clerics said in a statement released on Friday, adding that Islam and their Persian Gulf island country needed those who would “sacrifice” their lives for this cause.

The statement came three days after the Aal-e Khalifah regime launched a full-scale military raid on the northwestern village of Diraz, situated some 12 kilometers west of the capital Manama, to suppress a growing protest staged in solidarity with the top cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of Bahrain’s Shia majority.

During the raid in Diraz, Qassim’s hometown, regime forces martyred at least five demonstrators, wounded dozens and arrested over 280 people during the crackdown, which took place shortly after a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Aal-e Khalifah in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

On Sunday, a Bahraini court convicted Sheikh Qassim of illegal collection of funds and money laundering and sentenced him to one year in jail. It also ordered him to pay $265,266 in fines. The court ruling sparked widespread demonstrations across the country.

Qassim also faces expulsion from the kingdom after authorities revoked his citizenship last year. His defense lawyers refused to attend hearings, which they saw as an attack on the country’s Shia Muslims.

The clerics also vowed to “continue the path of the martyrs” who lost their lives during the “brutal” crackdown on Diraz inhabitants, the responsibility of which lays not only on the Aal-e Khalifah regime but also on the US for its “complicity” in the regime’s crimes against Shias.

They also stressed that Tuesday’s raid would only boost Bahraini people’s resolve to resist against the Manama regime’s brutality.