The senior religious figure, Sheikh Issa Qassim, member of both the Constituent and National Assemblies issued a strong statement on 16 June 1997 saying:
"The deteriorating security situation and the disastrous governmental violence against the Shia community in Bahrain violated all religious, constitutional, rational and civilized limits. These are matters for concern. It must be affirmed that the Shia-Sunni brotherhood is a pillar of the society, so is the national brotherhood and common relations and interests. We must all avoid being dragged into an opposite direction to these pillars. It must also be affirmed that the uprising in Bahrain is bonded to legitimate demands and the uprising is sticking to these demands, and has no intention of toppling the regime.
However, the government's flagrant aggressions against the Shia community, against its men and women, against its old, young and children, against its mosques and matams (assembly halls), against its religious institutions and processions, represent a vicious attack and ferocious sectarian oppression that would destabilize the country today and tomorrow. I call on the government to retreat, and call on the clergy from both Islamic sects, as well as the intellectuals and dignitaries, to stand on a united forum for advising the government that this sloppy direction would result in nothing other than a disaster.
We must all protect the holy places, the blood of people, the integrity and property of all. Unfortunately, all these have been violated by the government's raids against unarmed citizens. What sort of a lesson is the government presenting? Does it really believe that the people will bow? The commemoration of Imam Hussain will remain under any seismic conditions. We reaffirm that it is forbidden, in accordance with Shia jurisprudence, that the government takes over Shia religious institutions through a High Council for Islamic Affairs or any similar set-up. I call on the government to seek peace by offering peace, to seek recognition by offering recognition, and to extend sincerity rather than enmity.
We must all observe God's limits for respecting public and private properties, for respecting the blood and integrity of humans, and we must all seek the unity of the nation, we must aim at constructing the country rather than to destroying it. I call on the government to go for peace, for unity and for construction. I call on the people to support each other and collect donations for compensating the losses caused by the government's aggressions. Peace be upon the martyrs .. who confirmed that we are all prepared to sacrifice for the sake of Imam Hussain".
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