TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Sheikh Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of Bahrain’s Shiite majority who has been under house arrest for months, returned to a local hospital for surgery, media reports said on Wednesday.
Bahrain's main Shiite opposition group, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, in a statement, confirmed that Sheikh Qassim would be hospitalized, according to the Arabic-language Lualua TV network.
The statement added that the top cleric has been requiring surgery since more than 10 days ago but the Al Khalifa regime had refused to allow him to go to the hospital and delayed the surgery.
The al-Wefaq further called on the Manama regime to immediately end its hostile measures against Shiites in the Persian Gulf country and overrule the decision to revoke the citizenship of Sheikh Qassim.
Earlier on Monday, local reports said that a Bahraini court had upheld a one-year jail term against Sheikh Qassim.
The cleric was stripped of his citizenship in June 2016 over accusations that he had used his position to serve foreign interests and promote sectarianism and violence. The cleric was also handed a suspended one-year prison term and ordered to pay a fine.
The ruling against the prominent Shiite cleric sparked widespread protests and condemnations.
Bahrain, a close ally of the US in the Persian Gulf region, has been witnessing almost daily protests against the ruling Al Khalifa dynasty since early 2011, with Manama using heavy-handed measures in an attempt to crush the demonstrations.
Scores of Bahrainis have been killed and hundreds of others injured and arrested in the ongoing crackdown on the peaceful demonstrations.
Amnesty International and many other international rights organizations have frequently censured the Bahraini regime for the rampant human rights abuses against opposition groups and anti-regime protesters.