News / Middle East

Thousands Attend Protest Victims' Funerals in Bahrain

Bahraini mourners march in funeral procession in the western village of Karzakan, Bahrain, carrying the body of Isa Abdel Hasan, who died Thursday during clashes in Pearl Square in the capital of Manama, February 18, 2011
Bahraini mourners march in funeral procession in the western village of Karzakan, Bahrain, carrying the body of Isa Abdel Hasan, who died Thursday during clashes in Pearl Square in the capital of Manama, February 18, 2011

Thousands of mourners have gathered in villages outside Bahrain's capital, Manama, to bury the victims of Thursday's crackdown on anti-government protests.

During funeral rites for the victims, the mostly Shi'ite mourners chanted slogans calling for the overthrow of the Sunni-led government.

The country's senior Shi'ite cleric has described the police raid on demonstrators as a "massacre."  During a Friday prayer service in a northwestern village, Sheikh Issa Qassem said the government had shut the door on dialogue.

Meanwhile, hundreds of flag-waving government supporters rallied in the capital, Manama, Friday.  

Bahrain's military took control of the capital Thursday, hours after riot police firing birdshot, rubber bullets and tear gas stormed an anti-government protest camp. At least five people were killed and more than 230 others were wounded. The military has banned public gatherings.

Bahrain's foreign minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Khalifa, defended the regime's crackdown, saying it was necessary because the mostly Shi'ite demonstrators were pushing the country to the "brink of a sectarian abyss."

The Shi'ite al-Wefaq party, Bahrain's largest opposition group, resigned in its entirety from parliament after Thursday's clashes. The bloc's 18 deputies in the 40-member legislature had already vowed not to return until King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa agreed to transform the nation into a constitutional monarchy with an elected government.

Bahrain's king recruits foreigners to serve as police rather than trust Shi'ite citizens to wear uniforms and carry weapons. Shi'ites make up 70 percent of the population.

Fears have grown within Bahrain that the country would be at risk of widespread sectarian violence if the Sunni monarchy becomes more unstable. Arab leaders have been badly shaken in recent days, as popular uprisings and protests flair throughout the region. That has raised concerns in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, both Sunni-governed states with restive Shi'ite populations.

At an emergency meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Manama, Arab foreign ministers Thursday issued a statement of support for Bahrain, underscoring regional fears that the protests could spread. The group said it "stands hand in hand in the face of any threat to any GCC member."

Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet and is also a regional offshore banking center. The royal family has long been a strategic ally of the United States in efforts to fight terrorism and push back the regional influence of Iran.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs