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Prominent Bahraini Human Rights Activist Faces 13 Years in Prison for Tweets

After being arrested earlier this month on unspecified charges, Nabeel Rajab to be tried for tweets condemning actions by the Gulf Arab kingdom.

REUTERS — Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab will face trial for tweets condemning the Gulf Arab kingdom's prison system and its involvement in the war in Yemen, his lawyer said on Sunday, and he could face up to 13 years in prison.
Rajab was arrested earlier this month on unspecified charges in what appears an escalating crackdown by the Sunni-led government that also included a court shutting down a main opposition society and a decision to strip the spiritual leader of the island's Shi'ite Muslim majority of his citizenship.
Jalila Sayed, Rajab's lawyer, told supporters in an e-mail that he faces a prison term for tweets he made last year accusing security forces of torturing detainees in a main prison and of killing civilians in a war led by Saudi Arabia in Yemen.
"He was notified of the referring of his case regarding Jaw prison and the Yemen war to the High Criminal Court for trial" Sayed wrote. "The first hearing will be on 12 July 2016. Nabeel may face up to 13 years of imprisonment if convicted in that case," she added.
There was no immediate comment from Bahraini authorities regarding the case. Officials there deny systematic abuses of human rights and have accused the opposition of stirring sectarian hatred in the kingdom and serving the interests of their rival, Shi'ite Iran.
Rajab has repeatedly been arrested since 2011 pro-democracy protests mainly by Bahraini Shi'ites were repressed with help by Saudi Arabia.
The kingdom hosts the U.S.'s Fifth Fleet and is considered by Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdoms as a strategic bulwark against Iranian influence in the Arab world.
The Bahraini government drew U.S. and United Nations condemnation earlier this month when it announced the country's top Shi'ite cleric, Ayatollah Isa Qassim, would be stripped of his citizenship and when it closed down al-Wefaq Islamic society.
It had accused both of being linked to Iran and of fomenting sectarian tensions in the island kingdom, charges they deny.
An administrative court began hearing a petition by the justice ministry to dissolve al-Wefaq but postponed the hearing until September to give the group time to respond to the charges.
On Sunday, the group's lawyer said that the court has informed him it was advancing the date for the hearing to June 28.

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/1.727229
Schermata 2016 06 26 alle 21.44.30

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Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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