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Iran denounces 'unconstructive' Bahrain opposition ban

18 July 2016, 12:58

Tehran - Iran has criticised as "unconstructive" a Bahraini court's decision to dissolve and seize the funds of the country's main Shiite opposition group.

The order - which can be appealed - came on Sunday despite international criticism of the Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdom's intensified crackdown on dissent.

The administrative court in Manama found Al-Wefaq guilty of "harbouring terrorism" and ordered the government to seize its assets.

"Such actions by the Bahraini government prove that they don't seek to resolve the existing crises," Iran's foreign ministry spokesperson Bahram Ghasemi said in a statement late on Sunday.

Bahrain has unleashed a crackdown on opposition groups since a wave of Shiite-led protests in 2011 called for greater freedoms in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

It has long accused Iran of fomenting unrest among the island's Shiite majority.

Sunday's ruling came amid appeals by the United Nations, United States and rights groups for the legal action against Al-Wefaq to be dropped.

Ghasemi called on Bahrain to replace "escalated security and police approaches with trust-building measures," setting the stage for "serious, constructive and converging dialogue".

Authorities have stripped at least 261 people of their citizenship since 2012, according to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, including the country's Shiite spiritual leader Sheikh Isa Qassem.

Dissolving "moderate groups" and stripping political and religious leaders of their citizenship are "not in line with the regime's interest," Ghasemi said.

Last month, Iran voiced concern over Bahrain's decision to strip Qassem of his nationality.

"Surely they know that the aggression against Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassem is a red line... that will leave no option for the people but to resort to armed resistance," said Qassem Suleimani, head of the elite Revolutionary Guards' overseas operations arm, the Quds Force.




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