The number of reports relating to the string of court cases involving acts of violence and terrorism on which judgement is being pronounced by Bahrain courts almost on a daily basis is eye-opening indeed. Most, though not all of these, involve youth tutored to burn bank ATMs, attack schools, throw Molotov cocktails at police patrols, burn tyres to block highways and ensure peaceful rallies suddenly turn into scenes of mayhem.
And it has often turned out that behind the brainwashing of the precocious minds and instigation of the populace on sectarian lines stand political societies and clerics who otherwise do not tire of proclaiming their peaceful intent and purpose.
The largest of all the political societies in Bahrain is Al Wefaq and for a long time the government had looked upon its secretary-general Shaikh Ali Salman as one person who could help the government, through talks the latter proposed often and started twice, to bring peace and harmony in this lovely little island kingdom.
But every time the talks took off, somewhere along the way they were deliberately bogged down in nit-picking, acrimony over wordings and phrases and impossible demands on the part of political societies – all at the behest of their handlers and advisers sitting in Iran and occasionally on account of filibustering by the US embassy – and thus ended abruptly and inconclusively.
No one was surprised therefore when one day Ali Salman was picked up for questioning, confronted with the recordings of his incendiary speeches and their treasonable content, and after a trial and an appeal thereafter was finally jailed for nine years last month. He was convicted of seeking to change Bahrain’s political system by force, inciting others to break the law, spreading sectarianism and insulting a government body.
Given the seriousness of charges against the chief of the country’s largest political society for which he was convicted, it is not surprising that the government decided to shut the outfit’s shop.
A case was filed against Al Wefaq four months ago – before the final conviction of its chief was pronounced at May-end. The Ministry of Justice & Islamic Affairs was also seeking complete dissolution of Al Wefaq. The court has now temporarily suspended the group and frozen its assets in view of its alleged offences including supporting terrorists and seeking foreign intervention in Bahraini affairs.
The court ruling was clear: “The society committed many offences, including favouring violence, supporting terrorist groups, seeking foreign interference, questioning the legitimacy of legislative authorities and causing prejudice against judicial authorities.” It also agreed that Al Wefaq used religion in politics, misused places of worship to carry out political activities and incited others to break the law.
To put the record straight, some years ago, Al Wefaq MPs had already resigned from Parliament as if the society wanted to pursue its agenda free from any encumbrance. But no country and no government can afford to countenance this level of serious charges and would not allow open airing of treasonable and anti-national ideas and activities. Cloak-and-Dagger politics so not serve the country or its citizens. If Bahrain has come down on the practitioners of such activities one can only say it was long overdue.