The undated photo shows Bahrain’s senior opposition Shia cleric Sheikh Ali Salman (L) and top Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim.

Sheikh Qassim’s trial persecution of Bahraini Shias: Salman

Bahrain’s senior opposition cleric Sheikh Ali Salman says the prosecution of top Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim amounts to persecution and targeting of the entire Shia community in the country.

Salman, the secretary general of the country’s now-dissolved al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, made the remarks during a telephone call from prison as he himself has been in jail since 2014, Bahrain’s LuaLua TV reported on Friday.

On May 3, senior clerics in Bahrain reiterated their support for Sheikh Qassim, and called on all members of the public to reject any court ruling against the distinguished cleric.

On June 20, 2016, Bahraini authorities stripped Sheikh Qassim of his nationality. They later dissolved the Islamic Enlightenment Institution, founded by the clergyman, in addition to the opposition al-Risala Islamic Association.

The Manama regime has pressed charges of “illegal fund collections, money laundering and helping terrorism” against Sheikh Qassim, who has strongly denied them. International rights groups have slammed the charges as baseless and politically motivated.

A trial session had been scheduled for the senior cleric on March 14 but was postponed to May 7 amid fears of a surge in popular outrage.