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The New Arab & agencies

Al-Wefaq: Bahrain opposition group appeals against 'terror-related' dissolution order

Bahrain's government continues cracking down on dissent [AFP]

Date of publication: 31 October, 2016

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Bahrain's main Shia opposition group has appealed against a court ruling that it should be dissolved over terrorism-related charges, a judicial official said Sunday.

Bahrain's main Shia opposition group has appealed against a court ruling that it should be dissolved over terrorism-related charges, a judicial official said Sunday.

"Al-Wefaq has filed an appeal to the Court of Cassation" against its dissolution and the seizure of its assets, the official said.

A court in the Sunni-ruled Gulf monarchy ordered the group's dissolution in July for "harbouring terrorism", inciting violence and encouraging demonstrations which threatened to spark sectarian strife.

The decision, upheld by an appeals court in September, drew strong criticism from UN chief Ban Ki-moon, Bahrain's allies in Washington and London, and Shia-dominated Iran.

In mid-October, a court ordered that Al-Wefaq's confiscated assets be auctioned on Oct. 26, later postponed to November 6.

The group has called for Bahrain to become a constitutional monarchy

Al-Wefaq's leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, has been behind bars since December 2014 on charges of inciting hatred and calling for forceful regime change.

But on Oct. 17, Bahrain's cassation court overturned his nine-year jail sentence and ordered a retrial.

His first hearing at the appeals court is set for Nov. 6, a judicial source said.

Al-Wefaq was the largest group in parliament before its lawmakers resigned en masse in protest at the crushing of Arab Spring-inspired demonstrations in 2011 calling for an elected government.

The group has called for Bahrain to become a constitutional monarchy.

In June, the authorities stripped Shia spiritual leader Sheikh Issa Qassem, 75, of his nationality for "encouraging sectarianism and violence" and serving "foreign interests" -- an allusion to Iran.

Supported by Saudi Arabia, Manama regularly accuses Iran's Shia regime of interfering in its affairs -- something Tehran denies.

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