The biggest and only independent Shia foundation for clerics was dissolved today by court in Bahrain
On 19 September 2013, the Minister of Justice, Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa, regarded the biggest Shia religious foundation called the Olamaa Islamic Council as an illegal organization that operates in breach of the Constitution and the Law. This is seen by human rights activists as a continuation of the crackdown on NGO’s since the 14th of February 2011 and a clear confrontation with the most prominent Shia religious organization in the country.
The Olamaa Islamic Council is regarded by international observers as a moderate Islamic council that has clearly rejected all forms of terrorism, violence and sectarianism. The Olamaa Islamic Council delivers Islamic teaching curriculums and lessons in accordance with the Ja’afari school of Islam to thousands since governmental schools and private schools are prohibited by the Ministry of Education from teaching Islamic studies in accordance to the Ja’afari school of Islam.
This is not the first crackdown on NGO’s in Bahrain. The Bahrain Teachers Society, a representative NGO for school teachers was dissolved and banned; all members of its board of directors including president and vice-president were detained for having supported the claims of democratic reform, its location was occupied by the police force and its belongings were thrown on the road as garbage. The Bahrain Medics Society also suffered from the crackdown, its board of directors was dissolved, a new board of directors was appointed by the authorities to run the society, the membership of the society was widely open to all types of medics including foreign medics, such action contradicts with its statute which provides for membership to nationals only, the purpose of this action is purely political not professional, it aims to allow a change in the composition of membership and consequently in administration, as the government tolerate no viewpoint different from its own. The Bahrain Nursing Society was also victim of crackdown, including imprisonment to its president and secretary. Other NGO’s have also been constantly targeted such as the Bahraini lawyers Society and Bahrain Journalist Association.