In yet another indication of entrenched hostilities against Shia Muslims in Bahrain, the Al Khalifah regime has banned visits by the kingdom’s Shias to Syria and Iraq.
The Bahraini Shias, who are already banned from visiting the holy shrine of Imam Reza and other religious places in Iran, can no longer travel to Iraq and Syria neither by land nor by air.
“Over the past weeks, after pilgrims returned from Iraq and Syria, they were questioned about the reasons for their trip, and the Shias were put under a lot of pressure. But now the government of Bahrain has entirely banned pilgrimage to Syria and Iraq, and no Bahraini pilgrims has the opportunity to visit the holy shrines in Iraq and Syria,” Iran’s Fars News Agency said saturday.
According to reports, a group of Iraqi Shias gathered in protest against the Al Khalifah regime’s decision and demanded the lifting of restrictions for Bahraini Shias.
More than 100,000 Bahrainis visit Iraq’s holy shrines every year, apart from those in Arbaeen, which marks the 40th day after Ashura, commemorating the seventh-century martyrdom of Prophet Mohammad’s grandson Imam Hossein.
The regime has long been criticized by global rights groups for its abysmal human rights record, and brutal suppression and killing of pro-democracy activists.
The country has seen regular demonstrations since the popular uprising began in mid-February 2011.
The majority of the population in Bahrain are in favor of the Al Khalifah regime relinquishing power and allowing the establishment of a just and broad-based system representing all Bahrainis.
Manama, however, has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent.
In June 2016, the Bahraini regime revoked the citizenship of Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, a leading pro-democracy Bahraini cleric, prompting protests and sit-ins across the country.
Bahrain is one of the Arab states that signed US-brokered normalization deals with the Israeli regime, which Iran and other Muslim countries termed a “humiliating act”.