UCF Global Perspectives


Bahraini Sectarian Tensions Rise, Ayatollah Ousted

Elizabeth Lisowski, Senior Intern, Middle East

June 27, 2016

The spiritual leader of the Bahraini Shi’ite Muslim majority, Ayatollah Isa Qassim, had his citizenship revoked on Monday (BBC). An interior ministry statement accused Qassim of using his position to promote extremist sectarianism and violence, as well as serve foreign interests (BNA). Qassim may face deportation as the Bahraini government has deported a number of the 208 people stripped of citizenship in the last year (WSJ). Roughly 4,000 people gathered outside Qassim’s house in the Shi-ite village of Diraz to show their support (Reuters).

The move against Qassim comes less than a week after a court ordered the main Shia opposition al-Wefaq group closed and froze its assets (BBC). The group was accused of terrorism, extremism, violence and ties to Iran, a critic of the Sunni-led monarchy (Al Jazeera). State Department spokesman John Kirby said there was no credible evidence to support revoking citizenship and worries about increased sectarian tensions in the Gulf (WSJ). Top commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Gaurds, Qassem Soleimani, warned that the Bahraini government would pay for its decision, suggesting Bahrainis may respond with armed violence (Reuters).









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