(Reuters) – Protesters trying to march to the heart of Bahrain’s capital clashed with riot police on Friday, witnesses said, hours after a massive show of force by the mainstream Shi’ite Muslim opposition.
They said dozens of youths threw stones at police who used teargas and stun grenades to block the planned march to the Pearl roundabout, the centre of an uprising last year which the government suppressed with the help of troops from neighbors, including Saudi Arabia.
There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Bahrain, where the Sunni Muslim Al Khalifa family rules over a majority Shi’ite Muslim population, has been in turmoil since an uprising erupted last year demanding reforms after successful revolts in Egypt and Tunisia.
The protests escalated ahead of last week’s Formula One Grand Prix, drawing criticism of Bahrain from some governments, rights groups and media watchdogs who say police use excessive force and the government should find a political solution.
FULL ARTICLE FROM REUTERS
Hundreds of protesters were prevented from returning to a symbolic square in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, on Friday, following the funeral of a man the main opposition party said was beaten to death by security forces this week.
Activists said this video, posted on YouTube on Friday, showed members of the country’s national guard deploying in armored vehicles to prevent mourners from marching to an area of the capital formerly known as Pearl Square.
The square, also known as the Lulu Roundabout, was a center of the country’s protest movement in February before it was cleared by force and the monument at its center razed to the ground by the authorities.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES
editor’s Note: Joost R. Hitlermann is Deputy Program Director for Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group.
By Joost R. Hiltermann, Foreign Affairs
Ever since the Arab Spring began, Washington has been faced with the question of how to ease autocrats from power. After former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was forced from office in February, President Barack Obama said that the United States had been on the “right side” of history, suggesting that that is where Washington would position itself in the Arab world’s transition to democracy. What exactly this should mean in practice remains an unsettled question – especially in states presided over by dictators whose stable rule and pro-U.S. orientation were long-standing cornerstones of U.S. strategy in the Middle East.
This dilemma is particularly salient in the case of Bahrain, a small island kingdom in the Gulf and a longtime U.S. strategic ally. For months now, Bahrain has been engulfed in protests against the repressive rule of the Khalifa family; the most recent demonstrations in late August claimed the life of a 14-year-old boy, the latest casualty in the regime’s drive to restore order.
FULL ARTICLE FROM CNN
(Be sure to scroll down the page where you will find before and after pictures of mosques that the Bahraini government has destroyed in its ongoing effort to discredit and marginalize the majority Shi’a population of the country)
MANAMA, Bahrain: One can understand the dignity and honor of a Mosque by the fact that Allah (SWT) calls Mosques as His homes. There is a Hadith that states whoever comes to mosque; Allah (SWT) will make him His guest in Jannah (The Paradise). Allah (SWT) loves the people who take care of mosques.
Unfortunately, Saudi-backed Bahraini forces in their crackdown against civilians protesting for their rights in Bahrain have bulldozed several mosques.
According to McClatchy Newspapers report, in the ancient Bahraini village of Aali, where some graves date to 2000 B.C., the Amir Mohammed Braighi mosque had stood for more than 400 years — one of the handsomest Shiite Muslim mosques in this small island nation in the Persian Gulf.
Today, only bulldozer tracks remain.
FULL ARTICLE WITH PICTURES FROM JAFARIYA NEWS
Saudi forces are preparing to intervene in neighbouring Bahrain, after a day of clashes between police and protesters who mounted the most serious challenge to the island’s royal family since demonstrations began a month ago.
The Crown Prince of Bahrain is expected to formally invite security forces from Saudi Arabia into his country today, as part of a request for support from other members of the six-member Gulf Co-operation Council.
Thousands of demonstrators on Sunday cut off Bahrain’s financial centre and drove back police trying to eject them from the capital’s central square, while protesters also clashed with government supporters on the campus of the main university.
Amid the revolt Bahrain also faces a potential sectarian conflict between the ruling minority of Sunnis Muslims and a majority of Shia Muslims, around 70% of the kingdom’s 525,000 residents.
The crown prince, Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, said in a televised statement that Bahrain had “witnessed tragic events” during a month of unprecedented political unrest.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GUARDIAN (U.K.)
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — In the fraught divide between Sunni and Shia Muslims of the Arab world, the tiny island state of Bahrain is the next crucible of combat.
Unprecedented pro-democracy protests there by the Shia community have had a longer reach than what would normally be the case in a country of only 738,000 for one simple reason: Bahrain’s close ties to its huge neighbor, Saudi Arabia.
The two countries are linked by a 16-mile, multi-lane causeway and by the shared commitment of their Sunni ruling royal families to remain in power. Oil-rich Riyadh also financially supports petroleum-poor Bahrain.
FULL ARTICLE FROM GLOBAL POST