Bahrain's Shiite clerics have criticized the Gulf kingdom's police for attacking religious processions just days after emergency rule was lifted.

Five clerics say in a statement Tuesday that the force police used Sunday against Shiite pilgrims is "a flagrant violation of freedom of religious practice."

The police say they advanced on several processions commemorating the death of a revered saint because some pilgrims chanted political slogans.

Bahrain's majority Shiites have long complained of discrimination. They staged a wave of protests against the island's Sunni rulers earlier this year.

Bahrain imposed martial law in March to quell dissent. Hundreds of opposition supporters were arrested during emergency rule that expired last Wednesday.