Bahrain Crackdowns Intensifying, Saudi Protests Spreading
Government crackdowns in Bahrain are intensifying this week with increased police checkpoints and house raids. Said Yousif of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights compared the heightened police presence to an imposition of martial law. Jen Marlow, the American filmmaker who was recently deported from Bahrain, commented that in the three weeks she was in the country, she felt the situation had deteriorated substantially. According to her, crackdowns are country-wide as the “practice of targeting activists and demonstrators seems to be on the rise and very widespread” with “absolutely no distinction between civilians of any kind.” Also, police have arrested a sixth alleged terror suspect today as part of their list of 20 people accused of making homemade bombs.
Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia, Al-Monitor reports that protests have spread beyond the Eastern Province in an article titled “Has the Arab Spring Finally Arrived in Saudi Arabia?” According to Saudi activist Hamza al-Hassan, “we are seeing clashes in Ar’ar, protests in Riyadh, and there is hardly a place with no active popular movements in Saudi Arabia,” adding that Sunnis are now in the streets as well. Hassan attributes the sustained protests after the arrest of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr to the elders of the Eastern Province refusing to accept concessions from the regime as they have in the past.
Also, a Saudi court ruled that women can divorce their husbands if they discover after the marriage that their husband is a smoker. The ruling is intended to protect women’s health, but does not extend to women who know before marriage that their future husband smokes, or women who have been married to a smoker for a long time.