Bahrainis Protest Ban on Marches, Saudi Unrest Continues
Protesters in Bahrain took to the streets Saturday to protest the government’s announcement that they will not approve any new demonstrations, saying they are too disruptive. The demonstrators reportedly clashed with riot police in the capital Manama, but no figures have been reported for injuries. Meanwhile, an American filmmaker has been expelled from the kingdom for allegedly filming a documentary without permission. Jen Marlowe recorded on her visa application that she was entering Bahrain to help a friend with a newborn, but the government claims the addresses she supplied are fabricated and she has since been working on a documentary, which requires a special visa.
Meanwhile, unrest continued in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province on Saturday, with reports of petrol bombs being thrown at a court house in Qatif, causing some damage. Over the weekend, the Saudi Interior Ministry reported that several police officers had been attacked while on patrol. Tensions have been high since the death of two protesters killed by police during demonstrations against the arrest of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr last week. Saudi activists called this weekend for international organizations to investigate the incident, and claim that Nimr has been denied access to a lawyer or visits with his family.
The Economist, reporting on the recent targeting Nimr and other Shia clerics in Bahrain, criticized the two countries for insisting Iran is to blame. “Pointing a finger at foreign plots is easier than accepting the need for reform at home,” the article wrote, in discussing last week’s arrest Nimr and the shooting of Bahraini opposition party leader and Shia cleric Ali Salman two weeks ago. Despite the fact that most Bahraini and Saudi Shiites revere Saudi and Iraqi clerics, the two Sunni monarchies consistently blame Iran for domestic unrest.