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Protest in front Shiite sheikh's home shows Bahrain dissent

  • FILE- In this Feb. 2, 2014 file photo, Sheik Isa Qassim, Bahrain's top Shiite Muslim cleric, center, smiles during a gathering of Shiite clerics at a mosque in Manama, Bahrain. Bahrain's government stripped a leading Shiite cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, of his nationality following a request from the country's Interior Ministry. The Bahrain News Agency quotes the Interior Ministry Monday, June 20, 2016, as saying the cleric had played a key role in creating an extremist sectarian atmosphere and working to divide the society. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)

    FILE- In this Feb. 2, 2014 file photo, Sheik Isa Qassim, Bahrain's top Shiite Muslim cleric, center, smiles during a gathering of Shiite clerics at a mosque in Manama, Bahrain. Bahrain's government stripped a leading Shiite cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, of his nationality following a request from the country's Interior Ministry. The Bahrain News Agency quotes the Interior Ministry Monday, June 20, 2016, as saying the cleric had played a key role in creating an extremist sectarian atmosphere and working to divide the society. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE- In this Feb. 2, 2014 file photo, Sheik Isa Qassim, Bahrain's top Shiite Muslim cleric, center, smiles during a gathering of Shiite clerics at a mosque in Manama, Bahrain. Bahrain's government stripped a leading Shiite cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, of his nationality following a request from the country's Interior Ministry. The Bahrain News Agency quotes the Interior Ministry Monday, June 20, 2016, as saying the cleric had played a key role in creating an extremist sectarian atmosphere and working to divide the society. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)

    FILE- In this Feb. 2, 2014 file photo, Sheik Isa Qassim, Bahrain's top Shiite Muslim cleric, center, smiles during a gathering of Shiite clerics at a mosque in Manama, Bahrain. Bahrain's government stripped a leading Shiite cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, of his nationality following a request from the country's Interior Ministry. The Bahrain News Agency quotes the Interior Ministry Monday, June 20, 2016, as saying the cleric had played a key role in creating an extremist sectarian atmosphere and working to divide the society. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File)  (The Associated Press)

Hundreds of people are protesting outside the home of a Shiite sheikh, a mark of growing unrest in Bahrain sparked by the government's new crackdown on opposition groups.

Demonstrators have been outside Sheikh Isa Qassim's home in Diraz since Tuesday, when Bahrain's Sunni-ruled government stripped him of his citizenship.

The government accuses the sheikh of creating an extremist sectarian atmosphere and of forming groups that "follow foreign religious ideologies and political entities," an apparent reference to Shiite-majority Iran. However, his supporters and human rights groups have criticized the government's decision, calling it a heavy-handed crackdown designed to silence all dissent on the tiny island.

Bahrain has faced low-level unrest since its 2011 Arab Spring-inspired protests, when its Shiite majority and others called for more political freedoms.