Posts Tagged 2011 Protests in Bahrain

Bahrainis use traffic jams to protest

Tue Oct 4, 2011

Anti-government protesters continue to cause huge traffic jams on the streets of Bahrain’s capital, Manama, in a protest campaign against the repressive policies of the Al Khalifa regime, Press TV reports.

As part of the protest campaign, which is dubbed “Manama Storm,” protesters have created massive traffic jams in Manama, according to Press TV sources.

The campaign continues in defiance of an Interior Ministry’s warning in late September that warned the protesters of losing their driver’s licenses for up to one year if they deliberately created traffic jams.

Meanwhile, a Bahraini court handed out three-month jail terms to two people on Tuesday and fined each USD 265 for blocking traffic.

This comes following Monday rulings of a Bahraini military court which sentenced 14 protesters to life imprisonment and handed long jail terms of up to 18 years to 22 others.

The military court, however, rejected pleas by attorneys of those sentenced for an independent probe into the reported torture of defendants.

Earlier on Thursday, the Bahraini court also sentenced 20 medical workers to jail terms of between five and 15 years for treating injured anti-government protesters.

Since mid-February, thousands of anti-government protesters have been staging regular demonstrations in the streets of Bahrain, calling on the US-backed Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.

On March 14, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates invaded the country to assist Bahraini rulers in their brutal crackdown on peaceful anti-government protesters.

According to local sources, scores of people have been killed and hundreds arrested in the regime crackdown.

Source: PressTV.

Link: http://www.presstv.com/detail/202693.html.

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Egypt president to visit Iran, a first in decades

August 18, 2012

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi will attend a summit in Iran later this month, a presidential official said on Saturday, the first such trip for an Egyptian leader since relations with Tehran deteriorated decades ago.

The visit could mark a thaw between the two countries after years of enmity, especially since Egypt signed its 1979 peace treaty with Israel and Iran underwent its Islamic revolution. Under Morsi’s predecessor Hosni Mubarak, Egypt, predominantly Sunni Muslim, sided with Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-dominated Arab states in trying to isolate Shiite-led Iran.

Until now, contacts have been channeled through interest sections, a low-level form of diplomatic representation. In May last year, Egypt, which was ruled by an interim military council, expelled a junior Iranian diplomat on suspicion he tried to set up spy rings in Egypt and the Gulf countries.

It’s too early to assess the implications of the visit or to what extent the Arab world’s most populous country may normalize relations with Tehran, but analysts believe it will bring Egypt back to the regional political stage. The visit is in line with popular sentiment since Mubarak’s ouster in an uprising last year for Cairo to craft a foreign policy independent of Western or oil Gulf countries’ agendas.

“This really signals the first response to a popular demand and a way to increase the margin of maneuver for Egyptian foreign policy in the region,” said political scientist Mustafa Kamel el-Sayyed. “Morsi’s visits … show that Egypt’s foreign policy is active again in the region.”

“This is a way also to tell Gulf countries that Egypt is not going to simply abide by their wishes and accept an inferior position,” he added. The official said that Morsi will visit Tehran on Aug. 30 on his way back from China to attend the Non-Aligned Movement Summit, where Egypt will transfer the movement’s rotating leadership to Iran. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not yet authorized to make the announcement.

The trip is no surprise — it came days after Morsi included Iran, a strong ally of Syrian Bashar Assad, in a proposal for a contact group to mediate an end to Syria’s escalating civil war. The proposal for the group, which includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, was made at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca.

During the summit, Morsi exchanged handshakes and kisses with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in their first meeting since Morsi assumed his post as Egypt’s first elected president. The idea was welcomed by Iran’s state-run Press TV, and a leading member of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said that Tehran’s acceptance of the proposal was a sign Egypt was beginning to regain some of the diplomatic and strategic clout it once held in the region.

After the fall of Egypt’s longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak in last year’s popular revolt, officials have expressed no desire to maintain Mubarak’s staunch anti-Iranian stance. Last July, former Egyptian foreign minister Nabil Elaraby, who also heads the Arab League, delivered a conciliatory message to the Islamic Republic, saying “Iran is not an enemy.” He also noted that post-Mubarak Egypt would seek to open a new page with every country in the world, including Iran.

Tensions have not been absent however in contacts with Iran’s clerical state since Egypt’s uprising. When a delegation of politicians and youth activists made a visit to Iran last year, one Egyptian pro-democracy activist, Mustafa el-Nagger, said his Iranian hosts claimed the revolt sweeping the Arab world was part of an “Islamic awakening.” He responded with a different interpretation: the anti-Mubarak uprising was “not a religious revolution, but a human evolution.”

Any normalization between the two countries would have to be based on careful calculations. Majority Sunni Egypt has its own suspicions of Iran on both religious and political grounds. The country’s ultraconservative Salafis and even the moderate consider Shiites heretics and enemies.

Since splitting from their Sunni brethren in the 7th century over who should replace the Prophet Muhammad as Muslim ruler, Shiites have developed distinct concepts of Islamic law and practices. They account for some 160 million of the Islamic world’s population of 1.3 billion people, and make up some 90 percent of Iran’s population, over 60 percent of Iraq’s, and around 50 percent of the people living in the arc of territory from Lebanon to India.

In 2006, Mubarak angered Shiite leaders by saying Shiites across the Middle East were more loyal to Iran than to their own countries. His view was shared by other Arab leaders and officials, including Jordan’s King Abdullah II who warned of a Shiite crescent forming in the region.

“The old regime used to turn any of his rivals to a ghost. We don’t want to do like Mubarak and exaggerate of the fear of Iran,” said Mahmoud Ezzat, deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Morsi was the leader of its political arm.

“But at the same time, we should not take the Iranians’ ambitions lightly. As much as they don’t want us to interfere in their business, we don’t want them to interfere in our business,” he said, mentioning his group’s opposition to Iran’s “grand project to spread Shiite faith.”

While nearly three decades of Mubarak rule left Egyptians inundated with state-spun scenarios of Iranian plots aiming to destabilize the country, many sympathize with Iran’s Islamic revolution and consider Tehran’s defiance of the United States a model to follow. Others seek a foreign policy at the very least more independent of Washington.

A new understanding with Iran would be a big shake-up for a region that has been split between Tehran’s camp — which includes Syria and Islamic militias Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza — and a U.S.-backed group led by Saudi Arabia and rich Gulf nations.

To add another level of complexity, there is also the fact that Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules the Palestinian enclave in the Gaza strip to the frustration of neighboring Israel, is a historical offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, the dominant force in Egyptian politics since Morsi’s election.

Aware of the Gulf states’ anxieties over the rise of political Islam in post-Mubarak Egypt, Morsi has focused on courting Saudi Arabia. He visited it twice, once just after he won the presidency, and a second time during the Islamic summit. In an attempt to assuage fears of the Arab uprisings by oil monarchs, he vowed that Egypt does not want to “export its revolution”. He has also asserted commitment to the security of Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies, a thinly veiled reference to the tension between them and Iran.

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Fresh protests held in Bahrain

Mon Sep 26, 2011

Fresh anti-regime protests have been held in several villages in Bahrain despite the country’s heavy-handed crackdown on people, Press TV reports.

Bahraini regime forces clashed with the protesters in several villages including Dair, Sitra, Nuwaidarat and Muqaba on Sunday night.

Witnesses said on Monday that protesters also created massive traffic jams in the capital Manama, ignoring threats of confiscating driver’s licenses and barring protesters from driving for up to four years.

Hundreds of Bahrainis flooded the roads with their cars during the morning commute on Monday.

The Bahraini opposition had organized the gathering, which was named the “the Second Dignity Blockade.”

Meanwhile, Bahraini clerics have condemned the massive arrests and the disrespectful treatment of Bahraini women by regime forces over the past few days.

The protests intensified after the opposition boycotted last week’s parliamentary elections. Less than one in five Bahrainis reportedly participated in the country’s by-elections.

The Al Khalifa regime held the polls to fill 18 seats abandoned by members of the largest opposition party, al-Wefaq.

Al-Wefaq said that the 40-member parliament has lost its legitimacy and that it does not represent the will of the Bahraini people.

Bahrainis have been holding anti-government rallies since mid-February, demanding an end to the Al Khalifa dynasty.

Source: PressTV.
Link: http://www.presstv.com/detail/201217.html.

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Bahrain activists call for mass protest amid warning

Sep 21, 2011

Cairo – An opposition group has called for a mass protest on Wednesday in the centre of the capital Manama amid a stern warning from the authorities.

Activists of the February 14 Youth Coalition, named after a day when pro-democracy demonstrations started in the small Gulf kingdom, plan to bring the traffic in central Manama to a standstill by parking thousands of cars in major streets in the capital, according to broadcaster Al Jazeera.

The organizers said the protest was aimed at pressuring the government into halting what they described as daily oppression of demonstrations and reinstate employees reportedly sacked for joining in pro-democracy protests, according to the television report.

The protest comes days before partial parliamentary elections due to be held in Bahrain on September 24.

The Interior Ministry has warned it will not tolerate Wednesday’s protest.
‘The authorities will take legal measures against anyone found violating the traffic rules,’ said the ministry in a statement. ‘Violators risk penalties of jailing and fines.’

Sunni-ruled Bahrain has accused Shiite-led Iran of meddling in its internal affairs and inciting the unrest. Both the opposition and Iran have denied the accusation.

Source: Monsters and Critics.
Link: http://news.monstersandcritics.com/middleeast/news/article_1664173.php/Bahrain-activists-call-for-mass-protest-amid-warning.

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Bahrain medics continue hunger strike

Wed Sep 14, 2011

More than a dozen Bahraini nurses and doctors have entered the second week of their hunger strike as the anti-regime protesters await trial in a martial court, a report says.

Irish-trained surgeons Ali al-Ekri and Bassin Dahif along with 11 other doctors, nurses and paramedics are on a hunger strike in a Bahraini prison, Prof. Damian McCormack, who heads an Irish delegation of doctors and human rights activists to Bahrain, wrote in a letter to the Irish Times.

Among the detained protesters, one is diabetic and seven have already collapsed and are in need of intravenous fluids while one has attempted suicide and been prescribed anti-psychotic medication; they all refuse to take their medication, according to the document.

McCormack, who is affiliated with the World College of Surgeons and the World College of Physicians, also referred to a chronic compartment syndrome in another detained surgeon, who is at risk of “deep clots and embolism.”

“All continue to suffer from the physical and psychological effects of prolonged detention and torture,” he stated, adding that one consultant ophthalmologist recently released had suffered a stroke in detention.

The Dublin-based pediatrician recalls a royal decree issued by Bahrain’s embattled King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in late June, which orders all protester cases referred to civilian courts.

“However, international human rights organizations are shocked to learn that the trial of the 20 medics who are accused with felonies will continue in a military court,’” the letter reads.

It further censured the continued brutal suppression of peaceful protests in Bahrain and the August 31 killing of teenage boy, struck by a tear gas canister at close range, on Eid al-Fitr.

McCormack accused the Bahraini regime of employing international lobbyists such as Jo Trippi and PR companies such as Qorvis in Washington and Bell Pottinger in London to conceal its continued violations of human rights.

He noted how Lualua TV, a Bahraini pro- democracy station based in London, is actively jammed from Bahrain via a European satellite and all internal electronic communications in Bahrain are monitored by “spy gear” provided by western companies such as Nokia Siemens.

“Over 1,400 protesters have been detained, 180 civilians have been sentenced in military courts, 32 people have been killed, over 60 journalists have been targeted or ejected and at least 22 opposition websites are censored in a country which would call itself civilized and peaceful,” McCormack went on to say.

The doctor further called on the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland to seek return of the honorary fellowship they awarded to King Hamad in 2006.

Source: PressTV.
Link: http://www.presstv.com/detail/199195.html.

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Cleric: Bahrain crackdown failed to end protests

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Associated Press

MANAMA, Bahrain — The harsh crackdown on anti-government protests in Bahrain has failed to silence people’s demands for greater rights, a senior Shiite cleric in the Gulf kingdom said Friday as thousands of opposition supporters rallied on the outskirts of the capital.

The latest demonstration was staged by people who say they were unfairly fired from their jobs simply for being members of the island nation’s Shiite community, which led the months of protests. Thousands of Shiite professionals accused of having a role in the protests have been fired from their jobs.

Shiites make up a majority of Bahrain’s people, but they have long complained of discrimination at the hands of the country’s ruling Sunni dynasty and a lack of economic opportunities.

A police helicopter flew over the large demonstration, which was backed by Bahrain’s biggest opposition party, Al Wefaq. The crowd chanted slogans against Bahrain’s 200-year-old Sunni monarchy. Some protesters demanded their jobs back and others urged opposition leaders not to compromise with the monarchy.

“Our revolution will continue,” the protesters chanted. They warned the rulers: “If you don’t want to listen then you have to leave.”

Bahrain is a strategically important nation in the Persian Gulf and is the home of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

The U.S. has appealed to its ally to listen to protesters’ demands for more political freedoms, but a government-led national dialogue produced no compromise with the Shiite opposition, which only had token representation at the talks.

Bahrain’s senior Shiite cleric, Sheik Isa Qassim, said the “politics of fear” and the Sunni rulers’ refusal to reform has strengthened the resolve of Shiites.

“Those who refuse to reform and continue to ignore the people’s demands for rights should know that the masses will not submit to despots,” the cleric said during Friday’s sermon in the opposition stronghold of Diraz, northwest of the capital, Manama.

More than 30 people have died since February when protests inspired by other Arab uprisings began in Bahrain.

Hundreds of activists have been detained and brought to trial on anti-state charges in a special security court.

Bahrain lifted emergency rule in June. Since then, government opponents have clashed with police almost every night.

Friday’s protest dispersed peacefully, although groups of opposition supporters marched to Manama’s Pearl Square, the heavily guarded former epicenter of Bahrain’s uprising.

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September 09, 2011

Copyright 2011, The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Link: http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/cleric-bahrain-crackdown-failed-1164596.html.

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Bahraini youth defies protest ban

Thu Sep 8, 2011

A young anti-government protester has defied tight security in the Bahraini capital of Manama in a symbolic move against the regime’s persisting brutal crackdown on popular protests in the kingdom, Press TV reports.

The young boy ran to the iconic Pearl Square carrying Bahraini flags and continued to protest even when he was arrested.

The Saudi-backed Bahraini forces finally detained the young man and took him away.

Protests against the despotic rule of Al Khalifa regime in the Persian Gulf kingdom have recently flared up in different parts of the tiny state despite the continuing crackdown on any dissent by the regime’s forces.

The Bahraini king has recently admitted that security forces have indeed abused anti-regime protesters, saying that compensation would be paid to abuse victims as well as the families of those killed during demonstrations.

Bahrainis, however, have rejected the monarch’s apparent concession, insisting that he was personally responsible for ordering the brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrators.

Massive protests broke out in Bahrain in February, with people taking to the streets and calling for a constitutional monarchy — a demand that later turned into calls for the ouster of the monarchy.

Scores of protesters have been killed — many under torture — and numerous others have been detained and transferred to unknown locations during the regime’s crackdown.

Source: PressTV.
Link: http://www.presstv.com/detail/198014.html.

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