Bahrain Opposition Leader Injured by Police
Bahraini opposition members clashed with police during a protest march Friday, injuring Sheik Ali Salman, the leader of al-Wefaq, Bahrain’s largest opposition party. Riot police reportedly used tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets on the crowd of about 40 after they were ordered to disperse. Salman says he believes he and the other opposition leaders were intentionally targeted, which would mark a new tactic for Bahrain’s security forces. An official press release said the situation is under investigation.
Also, in a recent interview, Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner discussed human rights in Bahrain and other Arab states. Addressing the controversy around the recent sale of military equipment to Bahrain, Posner said the move was strictly national-security driven and was done in spite of “accountability” issues with the Bahraini government over human rights violations. Posner also touched on Tunisia and Libya, expressing cautious optimism for their transition processes.
Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, women activists cancelled their planned driving protest Friday after it had already been postponed due to the death of Saudi Crown Prince Nayef. The group Women2Drive instead will concentrate on petitioning the king to legalize women drivers and to create driving schools for women. One activist said the protest was scrapped due to concerns about repercussions on male guardians.
According to Arlene Getz, restrictions on women in kingdom have modestly improved since the start of the Arab Spring, notably in what she calls the “reigning in” of the religious police and encouragement of women’s education. Among some activists interviewed, including a Saudi princess, the right to drive is the “wrong fight” to pick, arguing instead more legal recognition and independence should come first.