Bahrain’s King has identified Shi’ite clerics, and specifically their preaching in mosques, as a source of political dissent and unrest. Without making any comment at all on the legitimacy or lack thereof of Shi’ite political dissent in Bahrain, it is worth noting that he doesn’t hesitate to target mosques and Islamic preaching as a factor in political questions regarding his regime. Yet in the United States, it would be unthinkable to consider mosques as having anything to do with anything political. So the question must be asked: is the political character of Shi’ite mosques in Bahrain incidental to their religious character, or is it a manifestation of an element of both Shi’ite and Sunni Islam that will appear elsewhere in other forms that are still nonetheless political?
“Bahrain revokes citizenship of top Shiite cleric,” by Brian Murphy for Associated Press, September 20 (thanks to Block Ness):
BAGHDAD (AP) — Bahrain’s king warned that mosques would be key targets in sweeps against suspected Shiite dissent in his tiny Gulf nation and vital U.S. ally. The first blow was a big one: stripping the citizenship of a powerful Shiite cleric with close ties to Iraq before next month’s parliamentary elections….
Bahrain’s move on Sunday against Ayatollah Hussein al-Najati — the Bahraini representative of Iraq’s most powerful Shiite figure — is the strongest swipe against the nation’s Shiite clergy. But it was clear something was coming.
In a blunt message last month, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa said “religious forums” would come under scrutiny by authorities. This was an unmistakable reference to Shiite religious leaders seen as fueling the clashes and demonstrations that began in August after security forces arrested a top Shiite political activist….
Al-Najati was born in Bahrain and did religious studies in Iraq and Iran. He and his family obtained Bahraini nationality in 2001 under King Hamad’s reforms….
Just hours before the decision on al-Najati, Bahraini officials reportedly issued a two-week ban on sermons by another prominent Shiite cleric, Sheik Abdul Jaleel al-Miqdad, who has denounced the arrests against Shiites….