Jail Sentence for Bahraini Cleric Unhelpful

Jail Sentence for Bahraini Cleric Unhelpful

Majlis speaker's special advisor on international affairs condemned a heavy sentence issued by a Bahraini court against a spiritual leader of the kingdom's majority Shia population on Sunday, saying the move will only set back efforts to help restore stability to the tiny state.  "Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim does not belong only to Bahrain. Issuing harsh verdicts against this prominent cleric will not help resolve Bahrain's conflict and will only complicate the situation," Hussein Amir-Abdollahian was quoted as saying by IRNA. The court convicted Sheikh Qassim of collecting funds illegally and money laundering and handed him a one-year sentence suspended for three years. Qassim, who is in his mid-70s, has also been ordered to pay 100,000 Bahraini dinars ($265,266) in fine over the charges, which emanate from the collection of an Islamic tax called Khums, which in Shia Islam is collected and given by a senior cleric to the needy, Reuters reported. Tehran denies Manama's accusations of interference in the internal affairs of the island state.

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