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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid