Iran has promised Bahrain will “pay the price” after the kingdom stripped a top Shia cleric of his nationality. Bahrain said it was because the cleric used his position to “serve foreign interests” and promote “sectarianism and violence.”
Interior Ministry said in a statement that Sheikh Isa Qassim had played a key role in creating an extremist sectarian atmosphere and had formed groups that “follow foreign religious ideologies and political entities,” an apparent reference to Shia-majority Iran.
The cleric, who holds the religious rank of ayatollah, has backed protests led by the majority Shia community for greater civil and political rights.
Announcing the move to strip him of his Bahraini citizenship, the interior ministry said the cleric had “adopted theocracy and stressed the absolute allegiance to the clergy”.
Responding to the latest decision by Bahrain, Iran’s Major General Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the armed forces, said the kingdom crossed a red line.
According to the state-backed Press TV, he said: “Definitely, Al Khalifah will pay the price for this and it will result in nothing other than the collapse of this bloodthirsty regime.”
He went on to warn that increasing crackdown on the Shia population in Bahrain will result in “triggering a bloody intifada [an uprising]” in the country.
He said also that Bahraini regime is committing more crimes on a daily basis and represses the people of Bahrain while the United Nations, the US and Western countries maintain their “meaningful silence.”
Similarly, Hezbollah – the Iran-backed Shia militant group in Lebanon also denounced the decision on its Al-Manar TV network, which called on Bahrainis to “express their indignation” and threatened of “grave consequences” over the development.
Many protests started rejecting the decision and chanting against the Bahrain’s authorities.
— Nabeel Rajab (@NABEELRAJAB) June 20, 2016
الجموع تبدأ الزحق نحو منزل سماحة الاب القائد آية الله الشيخ عيسى احمد قاسم الاثنى عشر المرزوق الدرازي pic.twitter.com/2moMxcnuSn
— Adel Al.Marzooq (@AdelAlmarzooq) June 20, 2016