Bahrain's al-Wefaq opposition appeals dissolution ruling: Wefaq official

August 30, 2016 12:23 PM EDT

The headquarters of Bahrain's main opposition party Al Wefaq is seen in this photo taken in Bilad Al Qadeem, west of Manama, on October 28, 2014. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

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DUBAI (Reuters) - Bahrain's main opposition al-Wefaq has appealed against an administrative court ruling last month that dissolved the group and found it guilty of fostering terrorism, a leading Wefaq official said on Tuesday.

The court decision to dissolve al-Wefaq was part of a wider government crackdown on an opposition mainly comprised of Shi'ite Muslims demanding reforms and a bigger say in running the Western-allied Gulf Arab state.

Ali Alaswad, a former member of the Bahraini parliament for al-Wefaq who lives in Europe, said the group officially submitted an appeal "to challenge the verdict of the high civil court issued... dissolving the society and liquidating its funds". The court set a first hearing for Sept. 20.

Government officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet, has a Shi'ite majority but a Sunni Muslim-led government, mainly drawn from the ruling al-Khalifa family. Seen by other Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdoms like Saudi Arabia as a bulwark against Iranian influence, it put down Arab Spring protests in 2011.

It drew U.S. and U.N. criticism in June when it moved to strip a top Shi'ite cleric's citizenship and announced it was suspending Wefaq and closing its offices.

Bahrain's Shi'ites complain of state discrimination, a charge the government denies.

(Writing by Sami Aboudi)

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