Protesters Arrested after Rocky Weekend in Bahrain
Large protests in Bahrain came to an abrupt end on Monday as police fired tear gas into the crowd and made a “number of arrests.” The marches today in Manama followed a weekend of unrest in Bahrain, as demonstrators repeatedly took to the streets in response to the king’s speech marking Bahrain’s National Day. The king called for unity and pardoned several hundred prisoners, but opposition forces said that the measures did not go far enough, considering the many political prisoners who remain in jail and the arrest on Monday of Yousef al-Muhafedha, acting head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. Opposition group al-Wefaq joined four other political parties on Sunday in a statement that called the political and humanitarian situation in Bahrain “the worst ever.”
“Our ally is terrified of human rights reporting,” Nicholas Kristof wrote from the Manama airport on Monday after the New York Times columnist was denied entry to Bahrain. An article in The Economist discussed the rise in religiously-motivated protests, noting that “Shia religious activism is more visible than ever” in Bahrain. Al-Wefaq, on the other hand, is losing domestic support, according to The National‘s Elizabeth Dickinson. “As the kingdom’s political stalemate has ground on… mounting frustration among once-moderate critics and opponents of the government has translated into growing support for groups whose goals and tactics are more extreme,” Dickinson wrote.