Bahraini authorities release leading Shia cleric after arrest which triggered protests

Today at around 4PM local time, the Bahraini authorities informed the family of Sheikh Mohamed Sanqour about his release. His arrest on Monday 22 May, triggered angry protests in different shia villages in Bahrain and in his village Sanabis.

Sheikh Sanqour is a senior Shia cleric and his arrest is linked to a Friday prayers speech seminar he gave on 19 May where he called for the release of political prisoners after reports of physical abuse of death row prisoners at Jau Prison.

On Monday 22 May, the Public prosecution office issued a statement on Instagram, ordering his detention for 7 days pending investigation over his Friday prayer’s speech which authorities claimed “included false news that would harm public order and disturb public peace.”

This is in reference to, Sheikh Al-Sanqur’s speech given on the 19th of May, 2023, as part of his speech, he stated the following (Watch video): 

“We also urge the authorities to reassure the public and the families of prisoners about their sons (the prisoners), through allowing phone calls and facilitating visitations, not only through brief statements, especially since some statements have been very brief and caused concern.

We also call for closing this humanitarian concern by releasing all prisoners”

His arrest triggered rare protests predominantly held in Shia villages, they attracted larger than usual crowds who expressed their anger over his arrest. The protests continued each night from Monday onwards, the day of his arrest

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) stated: “It was clear the Bahraini authorities underestimated the anger his arrest would cause among the public. Authorities must drop any outstanding charges against him and guarantee his freedom of expression without intimidation or fear of reprisal.”

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