​‘Arrest of Shia opposition leader endangers Bahrain’s stability’

The arrest of Bahrain’s main opposition leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, is a very dangerous move that will further escalate already high tensions in the Gulf kingdom, Salman's political assistant Khalil al-Marzooq told RT.

READ MORE: Bahrain arrests main Shia opposition leader

RT:What is Sheikh Ali Salman's current situation?

Khalil al-Marzooq: He is just now in the interrogation with the public prosecutor. He was summoned to attend before the CID (Criminal Investigation Directorate) yesterday, and after nine hours they told him that he is under arrest. The lawyers who accompanied him said that all the investigators were asking about previous ceremonies and speeches that Sheikh Ali Salman had delivered, and they accused him generally of inciting hatred, calling for the overthrow of the regime, etc., without providing any specific talking [points] from his speeches...this is a politically motivated case, and this is very dangerous move by the authorities in Bahrain because this will complicate the already complicated situation. We had an election that clearly reflects deep polarization in the community; the majority of the opposition boycotted the election, the loyalists participated with high turnout. The situation is not getting into a political solution; rather it is getting into more security escalation. And this is very dangerous to the stability of the country.

RT:You yourself were arrested last year on charges of "inciting terrorism." You were later designated as a prisoner of conscience and acquitted. Might the same happen to Sheikh Ali Salman?

KM: It's almost the same story when they accused me of inciting terrorism, etc. After 10 months of dragging me in and out of the court, and the detention of 37 days, the court could not find any evidence to charge me, so they acquitted me. This is [why I said it is a] political move against Sheikh Ali Salman, against other political leaders and human right activists like Nabeel Rajab, and others. They want to demolish the narrow space that the people have to express their grievances, to criticize the wrong policies of the government, etc. – despite the government saying that we have modified the penal code to put [in a] clause that freedom of expression is guaranteed according to the principals of democratic society. But when they put somebody on prosecution, they go with the old penal code, which said that anybody who incited hatred against the regime, etc. should be in prison.

RT:A protest erupted outside Mr. Salman's house after his arrest was announced. Does your party encourage more protest action?

KM: It’s the right of the people to express anger over the arrests of their leaders and the harassment of the political leaders who defend their rights. But we always encourage our people to go to peaceful demonstrations and [resort to] non-violent means of protest. Unfortunately, the security [forces] are attacking any presence. Even if people are very non-violent and they are just gathering around the house of the secretary general or some other place, they crush them with tear gas and birdshots. So if violence erupts in the clashes, it is coming because of the violent response from the authorities most of the time.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.