MANAMA, Bahrain, Jan. 31 (UPI) — Bahrain’s government revoked the nationalities of 72 citizens over security concerns and accusations that they had harmed the interests of the Gulf kingdom, according to a statement released Saturday.
“Each citizen of Bahrain has the responsibility to act in ways that do not harm the interests of the Kingdom,” the statement by Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior read. “Based on article (10/c) of the Bahrain nationality law, with a revision by the Interior Minister and approval of the cabinet, a decree was issued to withdraw the Bahraini nationality of 72 individuals for illegal acts.”
Such acts include financing, belonging to and attempting to form terrorist groups within the country and abroad, “inciting and advocating regime change,” smuggling weapons, and defaming “the image of the regime” as well as that of “brotherly countries.”
The statement went on to list the names of 72 well-known Sunni and Shia Muslims.
The Gulf kingdom, home to the U.S. 5th Fleet, has experienced tensions and unrest since 2011, when the nation’s Shia majority took to the streets in protest of the Sunni-dominated government.
Parliamentary elections late last year were boycotted by Shia voters after the largest Shia political opposition group in the country, al-Wefaq, was suspended by a Bahraini court. Opposition groups called the election a “sham” and an attempt by the ruling Sunni family to consolidate total control.
Earlier this month, police used tear gas and rubber bullets against Shia demonstratorsprotesting the continued detention of al-Wefaq’s leader, Sheikh Ali Salman.