Mass pro-democracy protest marches in Bahrain

Tens of thousands of Bahrainis demonstrated on Friday to demand democratic reforms, stepping up pressure on the US-allied government with the biggest protest yet in a year of unrest.

They began marching along a highway near Manama in response to a call from leading Shi’ite cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim, who urged people to renew their calls for greater democracy. A live blog showed images of the protesters carrying banners denouncing “dictatorship” and demanding the release of detainees.

“We are here for the sake of our just demands that we cannot make concessions over and we stick with them because we have sacrificed for them,” Sheikh Isa Qassim said before the march in his weekly sermon in the Shi’ite village of Diraz.

Qassim and other Shi’ite clerics led the march.

“It is the biggest demonstration in the past year. I would say it could be over 100,000,” said a Reuters photographer after protesters filled up the main Budaiya highway in the area of Diraz and Saar, west of Manama…

The government, pressed by its Western allies to allow peaceful expression of dissent, has allowed more opposition protests in recent months…

Bahrain, where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based, has remained mired in crisis and Shi’ite youths clash daily with riot police. The unrest has slowed the economy in what used to be a major tourism and banking hub…

Pro-government Sunni groups have organized smaller counter-rallies, warning authorities not to enter into a dialogue on reforms that could give the elected parliament legislative clout and the power to form governments.

Those groups look to Sunni power Saudi Arabia as a key ally and demonize the opposition as loyal to Iran, a charge the opposition parties deny. Analysts say Riyadh does not want Bahrain to agree to reforms that empower Shi’ites…

Qassim said Friday’s march would show how strong the opposition was. “The march will either prove you are only an isolated minority making demands, or that the demands are widely popular,” he said in his sermon…

No, the Arab spring hasn’t gone away. Nor have the repressive policies of those who would rule as royalty and the voice of religion.

Minority rule over a majority population hardly leads to any more peace than does suppression of the rights of a significant minority. When that minority flies the flag of religion as justification for their opposition to democracy and civil rights, they are even less likely to survive the real tests of time and a people’s quest for freedom.

One thought on “Mass pro-democracy protest marches in Bahrain

  1. exult49 says:

    Excellent article. It proves how theocracies do all react in the same way. What a pity , fundamentalism it’s a pit at any latitude , any subcredo; wabites , shiites , sunnites, catholics, wasps, etc.,etc. Opium only opium for the human kind!

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