Bahrain’s top Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, has come out of the intensive care unit (ICU) after undergoing a “successful” operation at a London hospital, his entourage says.
On Thursday, Sheikh Qassim’s aide said that the top cleric, who is in his late 70s, would “need medical supervision in the coming period,” after he underwent surgery on Tuesday.
His medical team had issued a statement on Monday, confirming his transfer abroad from the Bahraini capital Manama in order to avoid further complications in his deteriorating health.
Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifah wrote on Twitter on July 6 that King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah had allowed Sheikh Isa Qassim to travel to the United Kingdom for medical care.
Sheikh Qassim was taken to a private hospital in critical condition late last year, and underwent surgery in February.
On May 21 last year, a Bahraini court convicted Sheikh Qassim of illegal collection of funds and money laundering, and sentenced him to one year in jail suspended for three years. It also ordered him to pay $265,266 in fines in a ruling which sparked widespread demonstrations across the kingdom. The cleric has strongly rejected the allegations.
Bahraini authorities stripped the cleric of his citizenship on June 20, 2016. They later dissolved the Islamic Enlightenment Institution founded by him as well as the opposition al-Risala Islamic Association.
Sheikh Qassim, also the spiritual leader of Bahrain’s main Shia opposition group, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, has been an outspoken critic of the Manama regime’s policies.
His home village of Diraz has been under what human rights activists have called a continuous police blockade since the Interior Ministry leveled accusations against the prominent cleric and revoked his citizenship.
Sheikh Qassim is one of hundreds of people stripped of Bahraini citizenship since 2012.
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the kingdom 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 Bahraini regime in its crackdown on dissent.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown on dissent.