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UN Says Bahrain 'Unjustified' In Revoking Top Shi'ite Cleric's Citizenship

The United Nations’ human rights office says Bahrain’s decision to revoke the citizenship of the country’s top Shi’ite cleric was “clearly unjustified” under international law.

Speaking in Geneva on June 21, the UN agency’s spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, said “due process was not followed” when Bahrain’s Sunni-led government revoked the citizenship of Shi’ite cleric Ayatollah Isa Qassem.

On June 20, Bahrain's Interior Ministry accused Qassem of using his position to "serve foreign interests" -- an apparent reference to Shi’ite-led Iran -- and promoting "sectarianism and violence."

Thousands of Qassem's supporters responded by protesting outside the cleric's home in the village of Diraz late on June 20.

In a June 21 statement published by Fars news agency, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said the decision to revoke Qassem's citizenship will “add to the flame of an Islamic revolution movement in Bahrain and will form a devastating rebellion” against the country’s rulers.

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said Washington was "alarmed" by Bahrain's decision to revoke Qassem's citizenship, saying it was "unaware of any credible evidence” to support the move.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and Fars