Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, at his house in the northwestern Bahraini village of Diraz on November 26, 2017

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (8:00 PM) – The health conditon of Bahrain’s supreme Shia cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim has deteriorated to a point of mortal danger. This was said in a statement released by human rights organisation Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) on Monday.

According to BIRD, physicians who had visited Sheikh Isa Qassim in the northwestern village of Diraz, said the Ayatollah suffers from a “groin hernia requiring an emergency operation.”

“Such an operation carries a high mortality risk at Sheikh Isa Qassim´s age. He also suffers from high blood pressure, diabetes and a form of heart disease,” the statement continues.

According to Ali al-Aswad, former deputy of the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, the Bahraini regime is the prime culprit for the Sheikh’s worsening condition.

“Whoever decides to put Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim under house arrest is the one who will bear this responsibility henceforth,”Aswad said.

The Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society used to be Bahrain’s largest political party and was founded by Isa Qassim, but was dissolved and banned by the emirate’s pro-Saudi regime in 2016 due to being of a mainly Shia religious orientation. Ever since, Qassim has been under virtual house arrest.

Earlier reports said that on Sunday, the cleric’s house was surrounded by Bahraini security forces, possibly to deter any potential attempts to breach the Ayatollah’s de facto house arrest.

Sheikh Isa Qassim has been officially stateless since June 2016, when the Manama regime stripped him of his nationality amidst a crackdown on dissent in the majority Shia kingdom. The Ayatollah faces official charges of “illegal fund collections, money laundering and helping terrorism” as well as “serving foreign interests” and promoting “sectarianism and violence,” charges which Qassim has all denied. Since the start of legal procedures against him, supporters of the Sheikh have been holding daily sit-ins and protests at his house in Dizar, which have regularly been met with deadly police violence.

The Sunni monarchy, led by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah and supported by Saudi Arabia, has stepped up its repression of Shia organisations since the 2011 mass protests against the regime. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahraini regime in its crackdown on dissent, and since March the Khalifah regime has allowed military tribunals to organise trials of civilian protesters.

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