Bahrainis Continue to Camp outside Sheikh Qassim's Home: Scenes from Diraz Rally

2016-07-19 - 7:22 p

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): There, in Diraz, in the front yard of Sheikh Isa Qassim's home, hundreds of peaceful, yet alerted, protestors have camped staging a sit-in.

Nearly a month has passed since the Bahraini authorities revoked the citizenship of the country's Shia spiritual leader Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim on June 20, 2016, ratified by the King. The site that witnessed immediate, spontaneous and angry protests have not been empty since then. Protestors expressed their outrage by wearing shrouds and announcing their will to die if the authorities would take any decision to forcibly deport or exile Sheikh Qassim. The nearby houses opened their doors to host everyone who decides to proceed in the open strike. Bahrainis considered this to be the most dangerous decision taken by the authorities against the Shia since 2011.

Since that day and despite of the high temperatures, the scorching sun and the struggle of Ramadan fasting (the decision was issued on 14 Ramadan), the protest remained strong and crowded and is still ongoing.

The rally site is open; however, reaching it is difficult. The entrances of Diraz are totally besieged and only residents of the area are allowed to enter or those who give security officers convincing reasons. The presence in the site varies between day and night hours; work hours and other commitments makes it impossible for many citizens to be present at all times. Nonetheless, there are some who are prevented from returning to Diraz after leaving it. Thus, there are hundreds of citizens who did not leave the site, only when necessary. Some haven't left it at all; they insist to be near Sheikh Qassim's house in order to protect him in case the authorities decide to exile him as it did with others who were stripped of their nationalities.

Every day after performing night prayers, protestors stand at Sheikh Qassim's door and chant "We sacrifice our lives for you" and stress to Sheikh Qassim that they are still there; ready to defend his right to stay in his country.

On the first day, the slogans were outrageous and out of control. Some chanted slogans like "down with...", or "death to...". The chants were soon directed by figures close to the Sheikh: "We are here for the Sheikh. Our slogans shall be accepted by him. Offending slogans do not satisfy the Sheikh. Let our slogans be suitable for his position and let them only defend his right." Since that day, the chants were unified and no political slogans were chanted.

During the month of Ramadan, the crowd increased after 3 p.m.; i.e. after work hours. They remained until the following day and then returned to their jobs after dawn prayer.

The area got crowded when protestors prepared for evening prayers and Iftar. No one knows where these meals come from or who offers them. After the people break their fast, the nearby houses offer fruits, sweets, cold drinks and tea. Youths set up a number of food stands as well offering all kinds of foods and drinks and also built makeshift sinks in the site so that protestors could wash their hands.

After night prayers, protestors stand outside Sheikh Qassim's house and enthusiastically chant slogans for 15-30 minutes, voicing solidarity with Sheikh Qassim. Men and women leave their homes and crowd, taking part in the chanting. This session is considered as an introduction to other programs that usually include brief speeches, followed by various worship programs, especially during the Nights of Fate (Al-Qader) rituals.

After Ramadan ended, the activities during the night changed. They now include brief speeches, Du'aa (religious supplication) sessions and discussion seminars. The majority of protestors stay up until late hours; some sleep directly after performing the dawn prayer while others sleep after having their breakfast.  


Arabic Version


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