In this photo taken Nov. 21, 2014, Sheik Isa Qassim, Bahrain's top Shiite Muslim cleric, speaks during midday prayers Friday, in the village of Diraz, Bahrain. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)
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The spiritual leader of Bahrain's Shiite Muslim majority went on trial Wednesday on charges of collecting donations illegally and money laundering in a case that has increased tensions in the Western-allied Gulf Arab state.The case revolves around a Muslim tax known as Khums which in Shiite Islam is collected by the most senior cleric whom individuals follow.Qassim and other senior clerics have said the funds are part of Shiite Islamic tradition, which allows senior clerics to collect the tax and spend it in the interest of ordinary Muslims.
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