Dane gets three years for ‘insulting’ Bahrain’s king

Just days after her sister was sentenced to prison in absentia, Zainab al-Khawaja has now also been convicted of charges in Bahrain. Their father also sits in a Bahraini jail.

Dane gets three years for 'insulting' Bahrain's king
Zainab al-Khawaja and with her mother Khadija Sayed Habib Ebrahim Musawi. Photo: Amnesty International
A Bahrain court sentenced Danish-Bahraini dual citizen Zainab al-Khawaja to three years in prison for ripping up a picture of the country’s king, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Amnesty International has reported. 
The court found al-Khawaja guilty of “insulting” the king and in addition to her three-year prison sentence, she was also ordered to pay a 48,000 kroner fine. 
Earlier just this week, al-Khawaja’s sister Maryam was also sentenced to prison in Bahrain on charges she assaulted a police officer. Maryam al-Khawaja was sentenced in absentia and will face imprisonment if she attempts to return to Bahrain.
Zainab al-Khawaja’s sentence comes just one week after she gave birth, according to Amnesty International. 
Maryam al-Khawaja wrote on Twitter that her sister “will not be arrested right now, but [the] sentence can be carried out whenever”. 
Zainab al-Khawaja has previously been sentenced to four months in jail for the same offence of ripping up a photo of Bahrain’s king. She also sever nearly a year in prison before being released in February for charges including “destroying government property, insulting a policewoman, illegal gathering and rioting and inciting hatred against the regime,” according to Amnesty International. 
The human rights organisation has strongly condemned Bahrain’s “growing intolerance” and  “harsh methods of dealing with dissent”.
“They must immediately and unconditionally release Zainab and all others who are detained for peacefully expressing their views,” Said Boumedouha, the deputy director for Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme said in a statement
The al-Khawaja family have been vocal critics of the Bahraini regime. 
Maryam and Zainab’s father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, has been held in a Bahraini prison since 2011, serving a life sentence for demonstrating against the government and organising protests during the Arab Spring uprisings. In the spring of 2012, al-Khawaja held a 110-day hunger strike that sparked what Denmark’s then Foreign Minister, Villy Søvndal, called the “largest Danish consular effort ever” to obtain his release. 
Earlier this year, he staged another short-lived hunger strike that was called off over health concerns
Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and his daughters are dual citizens of Bahrain and Denmark. 

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