A Bahraini court has postponed the trial of prominent opposition figure and pro-democracy campaigner Nabeel Rajab, who has been kept behind bars over his criticism of the ruling Al Khalifah regime and the Wahhabi ideology, until May 8.
The court took the decision against the 53-year-old president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) on Monday, Arabic-language Lualua television network reported.
The BCHR voiced serious concerns over ill-treatment of its founder at Bahrain’s notorious Jaw Prison in a post published on its official Twitter page on Thursday.
The group said Rajab and his cellmates had been denied drinking water for the past 24 hours, and the detainees had been subjected to 23-hour lockdowns and were prevented from accessing reading materials.
On February 21, a court in Bahrain sentenced the distinguished human rights activist to five years in prison over tweets deemed critical of the Manama regime and the deadly Saudi-led war against Yemen.
Bahrain’s Court of Cassation, which has the ultimate say in the case of appeals in the country, also upheld a two-year jail sentence against Rajab on January 15.
He faces a further 15 years in prison over a separate set of charges related to his criticism of the ruling Al Khalifah family and Wahhabism.
On December 22, 2016, Bahraini authorities accused Rajab of making comments that “harm the interests” of the Manama regime and other Persian Gulf kingdoms through an article attributed to him and published by French daily Le Monde.
The article slammed the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group for its crimes against humanity. It also condemned Persian Gulf Arab countries for their failure to stop the spread of the violent Wahhabi ideology.
Wahhabism, the radical ideology dominating Saudi Arabia and freely preached by its clerics, fuels the ideological engine of terror organizations such as Daesh and Fateh al-Sham, al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch formerly known as al-Nusra Front. Takfiri terrorists use the ideology to declare people of other faiths “infidels,” justifying the killing of their victims.
Rajab, who was detained on June 13, 2016 for tweets that criticized Manama’s role in the deadly Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen, could face up to 15 years in jail.
Liz Throssell, the spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement that Rajab was arrested for “exercising his right to freedom of expression.”
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.
On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.
Bahraini monarch King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3 last year.