JNN 20 May 2013 Manama : Bahraini security forces raided the house of top Shi’ite cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim on Friday, the opposition said, an act likely to enrage the island’s majority Shi’ite population which is at loggerheads with its Wahabi rulers.
Bahrain, where the U.S. Fifth Fleet has its base on Iran’s doorstep, has been in violent turmoil since Shi’ite-led pro-democracy protests erupted in 2011.
Protests continue and often end in clashes between demonstrators and police. At least two people have died this year.
Security personnel forced open the door of Sheikh Isa’s home in the village of Duraz in the early hours of Friday morning and searched the house, Bahrain’s main opposition bloc al-Wefaq said on its website.
The household of Sheikh Ghasem were reportedly gathered in one room, while the Bahraini forces get involved in vandalizing the house. The cleric was not at home when the forces attacked his house.
Al Wefaq National Islamic Society condemned such brutal activity and blamed Al Khalifa regime as the main cause of such aggression. It said the adventurism of Al Khalifa regime has reached to its highest point.
Al Wefaq also urged an immediately probe of numerous torture cases of Bahraini regime forces, saying that the country has become a haven for torturers.
The society also demand the immediate release of pro-democracy activists who have been arrested by the ruling Al Khalifa regime.
The incident comes as more activists got jail terms for ‘abusing freedom of expression’ within last week.
Human Rights Watch also cited multiple reports of torture that emerged during the Formula 1 grand prix held in Bahrain in April. They include accounts of activists and women subjected to electric shocks and forced into signing confessions.
The organization also harks back to the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report, issued in November 2011 that stated five activists had died in custody of torture since uprisings began against the ruling regime.
In a statement to state media, Bahrain’s chief of public security made no mention of the raid but said police on duty in Duraz early on Friday had come under fire from a “locally made weapon”, injuring two officers.
In response, “necessary measures were taken to reinforce the security force patrols with members of an anti-terrorism unit … to uncover the source of the gunfire,” Major-General Tariq Al-Hassan told the state news agency BNA.
He said the shooting was still under investigation.
“This is the first time (his house was raided) and it’s hugely offensive for a huge number of Shi’ites in Bahrain,” said Mohammed al-Maskati, president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights.
“People see him as a red line. I expect that this will cause a big reaction.”