Protesters Clash with Police as GCC States Discuss Defense Pact
Protests erupted in Manama following religious services on the Shi’a holy day of Ashura. Witnesses said roughly 400 people from Diya village marched toward the Bahraini capital in an attempt to reach Pearl Square, previously a central gathering point of the anti-government movement. Riot police deployed tear gas and stun grenades to disperse protesters. The interior minister described the protesters as a “group of vandals” who “blocked the road, hurled petrol bombs, and terrified passers-by.” Pearl Square has been cordoned off and authorities are continuing to ban protests in the face of growing violence.
Meanwhile, GCC ambassadors praised Bahrain’s charitable and humanitarian projects. The comments came after GCC Ministers from the Joint Defense Council condemned violence by the Bahraini opposition and discussed the possibility of joint military and defense action, according to Bahrain’s state information agency. Additionally, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation welcomed what it called “efforts by the government in Bahrain to strengthen the reform process” and expressed optimism “that the reform process would support national reconciliation.”