Bahrain is facing a growing movement for political reform after being ruled for more than two centuries by the family of the king, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
Inspired by the recent uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, thousands of demonstrators participated in a "Day of Rage" across Bahrain on February 14. Originally, demonstrators were calling for greater equality, more rights and for the release of political prisoners. But after two bloody confrontations at the Pearl Roundabout, the protesters changed their focus to demands for a new government.
There is a significant split between the majority Shi'ite population and the minority Sunnis who rule the country.