Bahrain denounces interference after Washington criticizes arrest

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 02, 2015 10:41 AM

DOHA (Reuters) - Bahraini authorities denounced what they called foreign double standards and interference on Friday, days after their main Western ally Washington criticized the detention of the head of the main Shi'ite Muslim opposition group.

Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the al-Wefaq Islamic Society, was arrested on Sunday after leading a protest rally against elections in November which his party boycotted.

The U.S. State Department expressed deep concern over the detention on Wednesday, saying it would further inflame tensions in the island kingdom off the coast of Saudi Arabia.

Bahrain's Shura Council did not refer directly to the case or Washington, but said: "The double standards adopted by some countries and organizations do not help in combating terrorism and stopping violence for they threaten civil security and peace."

"The irresponsible statements by some countries undermine relations with them and do not help in building trust," the council, an advisory body to the government, added in its statement carried by the BNA state news agency.

Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, has been gripped by tension since 2011 protests led by majority Shi'ite Muslims demanding reforms and a bigger role in running the Sunni-led country.

Prosecutors said on Thursday Sheikh Salman was being interrogated in connection with charges including spreading ideas that defy the regime and authorities.

They said they had shown him recordings of a speech he gave to his party's general conference and a television interview in which he said that the opposition in Bahrain had received offers to emulate the Syrian opposition and take up arms, which it had refused.

(Reporting by Amena Bakr; Editing by Andrew Heavens)