Manama: The justice minister has called for the lifting of the parliamentary immunity of MP Jassem Al Saeedi over alleged remarks that were deemed offensive by Shiite citizens.
“The Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs has, upon the request of the public prosecution, written to the Speaker of the lower house to lift the immunity of Jassem Al Saeedi after several citizens filed formal complaints that his sermons included injurious remarks targeting Shiites,'' sources said.

According to the complaints, Al Saeedi, an independent Salafi MP, compared some Shiites in Bahrain, without naming their sect, to “the sons of Zion bent on acts of destruction and sabotage.''

The comparisons caused immense outrage that was reminiscent of a similar furore sparked by Al Saeedi when he criticized Eisa Qassim, one of the most prominent Shiite leaders, last year, saying that he should keep away from talking about political issues and economics because of his limited knowledge about the matters. Al Saeedi's arguments then were supported by several MPs and columnists and fuelled by the media.

A massive rally was organized by Al Wefaq, the largest political and religious society, amid consternation that Bahrain was becoming increasingly divided alongside sectarian lines.

The tension was defused by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa who called upon all religious leaders and the media to assume their responsibility and to shun divisions.

All sides agreed to calm the situation, but several citizens who lived in the area where Al Saeedi delivered his sermons launched a petition calling for the trial of the MP for his anti-Shiite remarks.

However, Al Saeedi on Thursday said that he had immense trust in the Bahraini judiciary system and that he was not afraid of facing the court.

“I do welcome any case brought against me because I have full confidence in the justice system in Bahrain. I will tell all the truth and I will prove that I was not targeting the Shiites,'' he said.

No immunity was lifted since the revival of the parliament in 2002.