Iran’s Zarif urges release of Bahrain opposition leader

Iran’s foreign minister has urged Manama to release the prominent opposition leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, saying such measures will further complicate the situation in the Persian Gulf kingdom.

“Employing harsh measures against people’s respected leaders, who have never deviated from their peaceful approach in pursuing people’s demands despite the difficult political and security conditions of the recent years, will only complicate the situation [in Bahrain] and raise concerns and threats,” Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday.

The reactions of the international community and religious circles to Sheikh Ali Salman’s arrest show that he is a highly venerated figure and the moderate approach of Salman and his party, al-Wefaq, has won popular and international acceptance, he added.

Salman, the secretary general of al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, was detained on Sunday following 10 hours of questioning by the country’s criminal police.

According to the Bahraini prosecutor, Nayef Mahmud, the opposition leader is charged with “promoting regime change by force, threats, and illegal means and of insulting the Interior Ministry publicly.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Union, the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, and many other international groups and organizations have so far lashed out at the government in Manama for the illegal detention of the Shia dissent cleric.

Bahrain has been witnessing almost daily protests against the Al Khalifa dynasty since early 2011, when an uprising began in the kingdom. Since then, thousands of protesters have held numerous rallies in the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.


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