After more than a year or toing and froing, Shaikh Isa Qasim, Hussain Alqassab and Mirza Aldurazi get a suspended sentence of one year in jail, three years probation, the appropriation of over BD 3 million collected as “khums” – a religious tax of 20% of surplus profits given by followers of the Shia tradition in alms to be distributed to the poor via vouched for clerics – and the appropriation also of two properties registered to Shaikha Isa Qasim. He was also stripped of his nationality last year and since then, the government has imposed a lockdown on the town of Duraz which houses over 20,000 inhabitants.
Regardless of whether the sentence is fair, will that mean that Shias can actually practice their beliefs unmolested? Who will they trust with that religious duty of paying alms? Will the Duraz Siege now be lifted? What change will we see?
The other question I must ask: why was Shaikh Isa Qasim holding three million dinars in an account? With the dilapidated state of most villages, with the absence of employment of his followers, with the meagre higher education opportunities available to them, why was that amount not spent wisely and continuously to help people, or at least invested in property or other instruments to ensure its longevity and availability for those in need?
What will happen to the appropriated funds and properties now? Will the government judiciously use those funds in a manner they were designed for or will they be simply appropriated into the treasury never to be seen by needy people again?