The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses concern over ongoing attacks on the freedom of expression as several preachers and religious singers have been summoned for interrogation over speeches they made during the annual religious festival Ashura.
On 21 November 2013, religious singer Sayed Murtadha Sayed Hasan was summoned for interrogation at the Wusta police station, where he was arrested on charges related to reciting poems at a religious procession on the 9th day of Muharram, which is 13 November 2013. He is due to appear before the public prosecution on Saturday 23 November 2013.
On 20 November 2013, two preachers, Elyas AlMarzooq and Muneer AlMatooq, were summoned for interrogation at the Wusta police station regarding their speeches during the annual Ashura religious festival. According to information received by the BCHR, Elyas AlMarzooq was interrogated in regards to statements he made during a sermon. One such statement from AlMarzooq was quoted as being that “the women have a role in the triumph of the revolution”. It was reported that the police officer who led the interrogation is Turki AlMajed who has been reported several times for involvement in human rights violations and has been listed in a recent campaign from the BCHR, ‘wanted for justice’.
On 14 November 2013, religious singer AbdulAmir AlBilady was summoned for interrogation at the Noaim police station. He was interrogated for mentioning the name of an imprisoned religious singer Mahdi Sahwan, while reciting a poem during a religious procession the previous evening, on 13 November 2013. He was released after the interrogation.
These attacks on the freedom of expression during popular religious gatherings are not a new occurrence. The BCHR has documented similar attacks in the past where clerics and religious singers were summoned and arrested for their speeches. (See the November 2012 report http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/5521).
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and other allies and international institutions to pressure the Bahraini authorities to:
- Immediately release all persons who are detained for practicing their right to freedom of speech and expression in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and drop all charges against them.
- Repeal the laws that criminalize the peaceful exercise to the right to freedom of expression, in line with Bahrain’s obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Updates: Bahrain: Authorities Promoting Sectarian Tensions by Targeting Shia Muslims During Ashoura http://www.bahrainrights.org/en/node/6565