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Bahrain bans clerics’ council

Lawsuit accused council of operating outside the law

Gulf News

Manama: An administrative court in Bahrain banned the Islamic Ulama (Scholars) Council.

The verdict was issued on Wednesday in the lawsuit filed by the justice ministry in which it claimed that the council of scholars had been engaged in political activities that threatened the security of the Kingdom.

The ministry in September charged that the council was operating outside the constitution and the law, that it had never been licensed and that it was involved in politics.

The council is led by prominent Shiite cleric Shaikh Issa Qassim.

Its offices should be shut and its assets liquidated, the ministry said.

“This illegal organisation has been operating outside the law despite the repeated warnings by the competent authorities to the people running it about its violation of the constitution and the rule of law in Bahrain,” the ministry said in a statement more than four months ago.

“The people running this organisation had refused to join the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs even though they took part in the consultations about its law and approved it initially. They afterwards set up this illegal organisation that was exploited in political activities under a religious and sectarian cover,” it said.

The ministry added that the council had “endorsed the so-called revolution”, referring to the two months of unrest that erupted in February 2001, and the violation of the law, and supported a dissolved political society with an open agenda of violence.

“The organisation also allied itself and coordinated with a licensed political society and interfered illegally in electoral issues by supporting candidates,” it said.

The ministry said that it would insist on all legal measures against the council “until it regularised its status and complied with the laws that guaranteed the freedom of religious practices and the freedom of political activities.”

Mahmood Al Aali, the deputy head of the council, in September insisted that the scholars did not need an official licence to promote virtue and prevent vice.

- with inputs from AFP

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