Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bahrain's Shi'ite Minority Warns of Escalating Sectarian Rift


The Al-Wifaq National Islamic Society (WNIS), Bahrain's leading Shi'ite movement, on Thursday launched a rally calling for national unity in the face of growing discontent from the Shi'ite minority.

The rally was arranged following mounting sectarian rift between Bahrain's Sunni and Shi'ite citizens.

Last December The Media Line interviewed Dr. 'Abd Al-Jalil Al-Singace of the Bahraini human rights group Al-Haq. During the interview, Al-Singace said the Sunni regime was "importing tens of thousands of Sunnis from Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Yemen and Pakistan, giving them passports in order to change the demography."

Al-Singace further said it was the kingdom's strategic objective to break even with the Sunni population compared with the Shi'ites by the year 2010.

"The only way to do that is by importing about 50,000 Sunnis a year from all over the world," he added.

In December last year 15 Shi'ite citizens were arrested during seven days of clashes between the Bahraini security forces and Shi'ite demonstrators. The protestors claimed the authorities were discriminating against the Shi'ite population.

Last Friday the Islamic Clerics' Council (ICC) head, Sheikh 'Issa Qasim, stated that those arrested were convicted upon confessions, which were forcibly extracted from them.

Qasim, a Bahraini Shi'ite, further accused the security forces of using brutal measures against the peaceful protestors.

In response, former MP Jasim A-Sa'idi, a Sunni, said Qasim's statement was irresponsible, irrational and ignorant.

In an attempt to halt the escalating situation, the WNIS stated in its web site that Thursday's rally would call on all Bahrainis to "prevent the country from being dragged into the sectarian strife swamp."
By The Media Line Staff on Thursday, June 19, 2008