Bahrain court shuts down religious council
Manama, January 30, 2014
A Bahrain court yesterday ordered that a powerful religious council should be dissolved for acting outside the law.
It also ordered that assets of the Ulama Islamic Council, an unofficial body made up of senior Jaffari (Shi'ite) clergymen, should be liquidated, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The council was the main decision-making body for the Jaffari faith in Bahrain and its religious rulings were respected by the broader Shia community, but it was never legally registered.
However, the Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Ministry took it to court accusing it of inciting sectarianism, dabbling in politics and encouraging violence.
The High Administrative Court, which yesterday ruled in favour of the ministry, said the council functioned like a political movement and used religion as cover.
"The court ruled to dissolve the Ulama Islamic Council and to dissolve its assets because it operated in politics in a sectarian, religious way," said the court in its verdict.
"The council was functioning like a political society under a religious name outside the law.
"Lawyers representing members of the Ulama Islamic Council asked for the case to be dropped, saying the council could not be taken to court because it was not a registered entity and there was no proof that their clients (council members) ran the council.
"However, the Ulama Islamic Council was operating on the ground without legal status and its members were functioning as if they belonged to an institution.
"One of the council's members also said in an interview in 2009 that the Ulama Islamic Council was operating on the ground and would involve itself in politics if it had to.
"He also said the council supported Al Wefaq National Islamic Society and was upset that there were many innocent prisoners in jail.
"The illegal council also supported (Shi'ite religious leader) Shaikh Isa Qassim's speech when he called on his congregation to 'crush policemen' in January 2012.
"It also incited its followers to carry out what they called 'jihad' and insisted on the 'revolution and its goals'."
Lawyers representing nine members of the Ulama Religious Council had claimed there were no records linking them to the body. They also said the council could not be accused of operating illegally because it never officially existed. - TradeArabia News Service