MANAMA – Bahrain authorities summoned the head of the country’s main Shiite opposition bloc on Saturday for questioning on allegations of incitement, a move that could inflame tensions in the tiny Western-allied Gulf kingdom.
Al Wefaq says it considers its leader, Ali Salman, to be under arrest hours after he was called in for questioning in what it said was a “series of illegal measures” by authorities.
The Ministry of Interior said in a statement on its official Twitter feed that Salman was summoned to address comments he made in a sermon Friday that allegedly “contained sectarian language to incite hatred.” It said his comments also incited hatred against the government and promoted rioting and vandalism.
The ministry did not say what specific comments prompted the inquest.
Al Wefaq has been a major driver in Arab Spring-inspired protests that began in February 2011 in the strategic island nation, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. More than 65 people have been killed since the unrest began against the Sunni-led monarchy. Some rights groups place the overall death toll higher.
A statement was taken from Salman in the presence of his lawyer and his case was referred to the office of public prosecution, according to the ministry.