A court in Bahrain has ordered the Sunni Muslim-ruled country’s leading Shia opposition group dissolved and its assets seized, reports say.

The ruling follows last month’s move by the government to suspend all activities of the Wefaq National Islamic Society.

Funds will be transferred to Bahrain’s government, al-Arabiya TV said.

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Amnesty International and the European Parliament have independently called on Bahrain to free prominent human rights defender and activist Nabeel Rajab, insisting charges against him be dropped and calling his detention “a shameless attack” on free speech.

“Bahraini authorities must immediately release human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and drop all charges against him,” Amnesty International said in its statement on Friday, denouncing what the organization called Bahrain’s “barefaced assault on freedom of expression.”

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Bahrain is the smallest Arab country. At 48 by 16 km., it is quarter the size of Manitoulin Island.

But its uprising has captivated the world. Not just because the U.S. navy’s nuclear-armed Fifth Fleet is anchored there to guard the oil-rich region. A fifth of its 500,000 citizens are out on the streets. And we are warned that a majority of them are the troublesome Shiites, as they indeed are on the island ruled by a Sunni sheikh.

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Bahrain hit back at U.S. expressions of concern over the Gulf Arab kingdom’s treatment of opposition figures on Wednesday, saying all its actions followed due legal process.

The State Department on Tuesday said the arrest of Ibrahim Sharif, prosecution of Majeed Milad and reports that a case against Ali Salman, head of Bahrain’s main opposition group, had been reopened, “raise serious concerns about restrictions on freedom of expression”.

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Iran will protect oppressed people in Yemen, Palestine and elsewhere in the region, Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said, again slamming Tehran’s main geopolitical rival, Saudi Arabia, for its aggressive policies.

“Yemen, Bahrain and Palestine are oppressed, and we protect oppressed people as much as we can,” Khamenei said during a meeting with Iranian officials and diplomats from Muslim states.

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