Tensions high in Bahrain ahead of court ruling

Tensions high in Bahrain ahead of court ruling

Tensions are running high once more in Bahrain. Over the past week, authorities in the Gulf monarchy passed a constitutional

Photo: AFP/Getty

Photo: AFP/Getty

Tensions are running high once more in Bahrain. Over the past week, authorities in the Gulf monarchy passed a constitutional amendment allowing military courts to prosecute civilians and subsequently filed a lawsuit to dissolve major opposition group Waad. On Tuesday, a verdict is expected in the trial of Sheikh Isa Qassim – the country’s top Shi’ite cleric who was stripped of his citizenship last year.

Shi’ite-based opposition groups have pledged to take to the streets on Sunday and throughout the week to demand the suspension of the trial of their spiritual leader. In the past, Bahrain’s government has clamped down hard on opposition demonstrations, arresting leaders and using force to disperse crowds.

But the Sunni monarchy must tread carefully. An overwhelming majority of Bahrainis – some 70% – are Shi’ite, and with regional tensions running high, the government can ill-afford a slip-up.

Dig deeper: Geopolitics and sectarianism collide in Bahrain