The clergymen, in a statement released last week, denounced the Bahraini regime forces’ removal of banners and flags — which have been set up for Ashura, the 10th day of the lunar month of Muharram — as “wrong and cowardly” and “vengeance against opposing opinion.”
They argued that attacks on religious rituals undermine “the basics of the religion and nation that have been deep-rooted for hundreds of years.”
The religious figures added that Ashura represents “a sacred ritual for [the] Shia,” stressing that the Bahraini people “will not abandon their religion and identity to be violated by mercenaries.”
The security forces cracking down on people in Bahrain also include individuals deployed from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The clerics further called on people from different walks of life to “attend Ashura eulogies and processions to defend the religion,” and adequately address the Manama regime’s repressive moves against Shia Muslims in the kingdom.
On Sunday, clashes erupted between dozens of protesters and regime forces in Abu Saiba after the latter took down Ashura banners and flags and removed black cloths that had draped walls in the village.
Bahraini soldiers also fired tear gas canisters to disperse the crowd. Several people suffered breathing difficulties.
Regime forces acted similarly in the villages of Bani Jamra, Qurayya, and Tubli.
Other instances of regime crackdown on dissent include the imprisonment of Shia cleric Sheikh Ali Salman, the revocation of the citizenship of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim, and banning Shia opposition groups, including al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, al-Risala Islamic Association as well as the Islamic Enlightenment Institution.
A popular uprising has been going on in Bahrain since February 2011. Despite a heavy-handed crackdown, people continue to demonstrate against the regime.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries in the crackdown.
American declaration of concern
Meanwhile, the administration of US President Barack Obama has reportedly notified the US Congress that it would not agree to a deal worth almost four billion dollars for the sale of warplanes and plane parts to Bahrain unless Manama enhances the rights situation in the Arab country.
Informed sources, speaking anonymously, said US administration officials had purportedly linked their complete approval for the sale of 19 Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 fighter jets as well as spare parts and upgrades to an improvement in the human right situation in the country.
The sources added that Manama plans to buy 19 F-16 fighter jets valued at as much as 2.8 billion dollars, besides communications, ammunition, and spare parts for the aging F-16 fleet of the Bahraini air force costing as much as one billion dollars.