Middle East

Bahrain files lawsuit to shut Shiite clerics council

Bahrain's King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa (2nd R) meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping (not pictured) after a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing September 16, 2013. REUTERS/Feng Li

DUBAI: Bahraini authorities have filed a lawsuit to close a Shiite Muslim clerics' council, accusing it of operating illegally and being involved in politics, the justice ministry said on Monday.

The ministry said it wanted the office of the Olamaa Islamic Council to be closed and its assets liquidated for "functioning outside the law."

The lawsuit came as authorities in the Sunni-ruled monarchy crack down on opposition action by Shiites, who make up the majority of the population in the Gulf archipelago.

The council, which is led by prominent cleric Issa Qassem, "violates the constitution and the laws of the kingdom," the ministry said, accusing its members of "using it to practise politics under a confessional cover."

The council also "adopted the call for the so-called revolution," the ministry charged, referring to the Shiite-led protests against the government, which erupted in February 2011 and were dispersed a month later.

Home to the US Fifth Fleet and strategically situated across the Gulf from Iran, Bahrain still sees sporadic Shiite-led demonstrations, mostly outside the capital Manama.

According to the International Federation for Human Rights, around 80 people have been killed in Bahrain since the violence first broke out in 2011.





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