The Bahraini government has destroyed a number of mosques in continuation of its aggressive crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, a special Al Jazeera investigation has revealed.
At least 28 mosques and Shia religious institutions have been destroyed in the Gulf state since the crackdown on Shia-led protests began in Mid-March, the opposition group, Al Wefaq, told Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford.
The Justice Ministry, however, said it was tearing down the mosques because they were not licensed.
Ordinary Bahrainis were hesitant to speak to our correspondent; they were fearful of government informers who they said were everywhere.
“It is a war against identity,” one man told our correspondent. “This Sunni government of Bahrain is fighting the Shia, destroying their places of worship and holy places.”
Adel Al-Moawda, deputy chairman of the Bahraini parliament, denied the report that mosques were being destroyed.
“The mosques that have been demolished, most of them are not mosques,” Al-Moawda told Al Jazeera.
“There were only expansions of mosques in some private territories. Very few numbers of mosques, which are illegally built, have been demolished.”
He said Sunni mosques were also among these few that had been demolished. “What is happening in Bahrain now … everybody is following the law and order, that is all,” he added.
Strong sense of fear
“The sense of fear amongst the people that you are trying to talk to is really quite incredible,” Stratford said.
He said Al Jazeera found it very difficult to find Sunni voices since the crackdown began in mid-March.
|Al-Moawda, deputy chairman of Bahraini parliament, denied the report in an interview with Al Jazeera|
“A lot of the sympathisers who were pushing for reform from the Sunni side have gone into hiding, seemingly very intimidated by the crackdown,” our correspondent added.
“It is important to recognise that before the crackdown on the roundabout there were sizable demonstrations by the Sunni population.”
Earlier, Al Jazeera revealed that medics who worked to assist wounded protesters have been targeted, with hundreds facing arrest and investigation by the regime.
Bahraini police also carried out raids on girls’ schools, detaining and beating them, during its crackdown, secret filming by Al Jazeera’s Stratford revealed.
The government denied this report. “The allegations made by Al Jazeera English are totally baseless and without credibility,” sources quoted by the Bahraini news agency said.
Al-Moawda repeated the denial, saying “there is a big exaggeration in some of what I have just heard now about torturing doctors and nurses”.