Shiite worshipers in Bahrain’s northwestern village of Diraz were once again confronted with concrete barricades and armored vehicles as Manama continues to enforce its ban on Friday prayers.
Diraz is home to the Imam Al Sadiq Mosque, which used to host the largest Shiite congregation in the country. For the last 65 weeks, the mosque has been largely deserted, with the exception of a few men performing individual prayers.
Outside, Bahraini security forces play out the same routine every Friday; deploying reinforcements, tightening the siege on Diraz and blocking all routes leading to the mosque.
The scene is nothing short of a blatant violation of religious freedoms. And there is no shortage of examples of such practices in the Persian Gulf kingdom.
In August of this year, Washington’s top diplomat – whose government is a key ally of the Bahraini monarchy – called on Manama to “stop discriminating against the Shiite communities”.
“In Bahrain, the government continued to question, detain and arrest Shiite clerics, community members and opposition politicians,” Rex Tillerson said.
The UN has repeatedly echoed a similar sentiment, pointing out that Bahrain’s Shiite population is “clearly being targeted on the basis of their religion”.
Few know this better than the residents in Diraz, who are forced to endure an increasingly brutal campaign of repression.