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The New Arab & agencies

Bahrain to sell off banned opposition group's assets

Al-Wefaq's leader Sheikh Ali Salman has been in jail since 2014 [AFP]

Date of publication: 22 October, 2016

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Al-Wefaq association was dissolved in July after a Bahrain court charged it with links to “sectarian and extremist political parties that adopt terrorism”. The move has been widely criticised

Bahrain is set to auction the confiscated assets of the country’s main Shia-dominated opposition group after it was dissolved on terrorism-related charges, a judicial source said on Saturday.

According to the source, an administrative court took the decision to auction the assets of the Al-Wefaq association on Thursday with the auction process itself set to begin on 26 October. 

Shortly after, the ruling security forces seized al-Wefaq’s assets including its headquarters outside Manama.

Al-Wefaq was summoned to court in July accused of a plethora of anti-state charges including “solidarity with suspects convicted of instigating hatred of the political regime,” “calling for a coup d’état and demeaning the judiciary and executive bodies,” and calling for “demonstrations and sit-ins that could lead to sectarian strife in the country.”

The organisation, whose leader Sheikh Ali Salman has been in jail since December 2014, was eventually convicted on charges including having links with “sectarian and extremist political parties that adopt terrorism”.

Al-Wefaq’s dissolution drew criticism from the UN, and international actors including the US, UK, who have supported the Bahraini monarchy; and Iran, which views itself as the protector of Bahrain’s Shia majority. 

In 2010 Al Wefaq constituted the largest group in Bahrain’s parliament but its lawmakers resigned en masse after security forces violently put down Arab Spring-inspired demonstrations demanding an elected government in 2011. 

Since political parties are officially banned in Bahrain, Al-Wefaq operates as an association. Also known as the Islamic National Accord Association, it is seen as the heir to the Bahrain Freedom Movement which played a central role in Shia-led demonstrations in the 1990s that called for the restoration of parliamentary democracy, scrapped by Manama in 1975.

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