Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Revoking Qassim’s Nationality | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In this photo taken Nov. 21, 2014, Sheik Isa Qassim, midday prayers Friday, in the village of Diraz, Bahrain. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

In my opinion, punishing criminals is far better than revoking their citizenship and sending them to exile, taking punitive measures against offenders will prohibit them from exploiting podiums abroad. Moreover, after being convicted, foreign forces would avoid taking advantage of the felon. Keeping their citizenship also allows the government to put the delinquent up for national prosecution.

However, some believe that stripping the citizenship of felons is a legal expression denouncing the criminal’s actions and avoids any legal national responsibility to the felon’s crimes abroad. Revoking the citizenship of proxies also sends a strong message to other extremist leaderships.

Saudi Arabia, back in the 90’s, revoked Osama bin Laden’s citizenship; at the time many western governments and institutes criticized the measure taken.

The reason behind revoking bin Laden’s citizenship was to end his hostile activities staged against Egypt and the U.S. at the time. Not to mention that Osama was establishing al Qaeda back then– after losing citizenship he was given Asylum in Sudan.

Five years later the September 11 attacks took place- Riyadh’s decision turned out to be righteous and has proved it clear from Osama’s crimes.

Revoking citizenship has become better accepted among analysts and researchers working for legal solutions against extremist groups. Despite that France put its bill on revoking the citizenship of all violence-involved extremists on hiatus; it will be put back to discussion as soon as public rage is spotted.

As for why elect this penance specifically?

I believe that the reason is that revoking the citizenship of a felon sets of the alarms of those who promote violence; given that they too enjoy the privileges offered by the countries they seek to throw into chaos.

Many countries resort to withdrawing citizenship as a punitive measure, especially against naturalized citizens or those holding dual citizenship. One should also mention that in the U.S., not only is the citizenship of terrorists revoked, but also that of those who prove affiliated. Australia, Singapore, India and Israel are all systems who employ citizenship revoking.

Issa Qassim is a cleric who embarked on political activity against the Bahraini government, like many other clerics across the Arab region, who had been tempted by the Iranian experience- the Iranian “revolution” proved that clerics can take over the government.

But I can safely say that I do not know a Muslim cleric, Shi’ite or Sunni, among political activists who truly believed in the freedom of expression and rights of those who oppose them.

All that is promoted by religious philosophers has nothing to do with the reality of practice, not even with internal establishment of the movement. The religious Bahraini opposition does not believe in any rights or freedoms which do not agree with its own rights and freedoms— it takes an epitome in Iran’s theocratic governance.

To all those who wish to argue that such is the case in Saudi Arabia and many other countries in the region that do not provide a democracy and are against political diversity, their argument is true. Nevertheless, those countries never falsely claimed that its regime provides a democracy or western liberalism.

Moreover, the opposition in Bahrain wishes to replace an excessively lenient royal order, with an extremist Shi’ite regime which tails behind Iranian policies.

Furthermore, it wishes to pledge allegiance to Iranian Governance of the Jurist (otherwise called the Vilayat-e Faqih) which is equal to ceding national sovereignty to Tehran’s Ulama-led government.

On the other hand, when Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force Major General Qassim Soleimani straightforwardly threatened the Bahraini government with armed operations staged against its authority, all of which inspired by the withdrawal of Issa Qassim’s nationality, it only added to Bahrain’s argument and stood against the Iranian notorious military commander.

What is happening in Bahrain is not a national opposition, which could be answered to in the name of national interest; it is made up of bigoted Iran-affiliated bands! The statements made by sectarian militias and the so-called Lebanon-based Hezbollah group against Bahrain prove it. What we desire is for Bahrain to set free from this extended crisis in which Iran, for over a decade now, works incessantly to dominate opposing political activity in Bahrain.

Whatever may be the arguments set for confrontation, there are three important principals the opposition must take into consideration. Which are: keeping away from a violence-fueled approach, avoiding sectarian incitement and not resorting to a foreign regime such as Iran. Breaking any of those principals directly grants certitude to any regional authority to use force against the opposition.

Iran is the last country which should be allowed to defend the rights of any allegedly “oppressed” group and for any given reason. Iranian authorities, until today, still hold two Islamic reform preachers in custody, who are Mehdi Karroubi, Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Mousavi’s wife Zahra Rahnyfrd, has also been put in custody for five years now.

Scores of the likes of Issa Qassim have been held for years in Iranian prisons. So after saying such, are Bahrain’s decisions considered sectarian-based? At the very least one must credit Bahrain for treating all convicts equally. Within the same week of Qassim losing his citizenship, 13 extremist Sunni Bahrainis were stripped from their citizenship as well.