News / Middle East

Thousands of Bahrainis March Peacefully for Democratic Reforms

Anti-government protesters holding Bahraini flags and signs saying "No To Official Terror" march during a rally organized by Bahrain's main opposition party Al Wefaq on Budaiya highway west of Manama, August 23, 3013.
Anti-government protesters holding Bahraini flags and signs saying "No To Official Terror" march during a rally organized by Bahrain's main opposition party Al Wefaq on Budaiya highway west of Manama, August 23, 3013.
Reuters
Thousands of Bahrainis were allowed to march peacefully outside Manama calling for democratic reforms on Friday, 10 days after police cracked down on scattered protests organized by an online group inspired by recent demonstrations in Egypt.
 
Waving Bahrain's red and white flag and carrying pictures of political prisoners, the protesters denounced King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa and Prime Minister Sheik Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa. “Down with Hamad,” they chanted.
 
“We are here ... because we want freedom. We are used to oppression, and teargas and beatings,” said Hayat al-Abbar, a 38-year-old secretary who joined the march.
 
Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet, has been buffeted by bouts of unrest since February 2011 when an uprising led by the Shi'ite majority demanded the Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty give up power.
 
The authorities crushed the revolt. An international inquiry commission said in a November 2011 report that 35 people had died during the uprising. The dead were mainly protesters but included five security personnel and seven foreigners.
 
“We seek our freedom and dignity and will never forget those who sacrificed their lives,” Friday's protesters chanted.
 
Police stayed away from the march, which was organized by the country's main opposition parties and took place west of the capital.
 
The Bahrain government in July passed a law banning all protests in the capital Manama. King Hamad also toughened penalties in anti-terrorism laws.
 
On Aug. 14, the authorities fired tear gas and birdshot to disperse demonstrators responding to an online call for street action by a new activist group calling itself Tamarrod, according to witnesses.
 
The group was inspired by the movement of the same name that helped muster massive protests against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi before the military removed him on July 3.
 
The Bahrain opposition demands a constitutional monarchy with a government chosen from within a democratically-elected parliament. It complains of discrimination against majority Shi'ites in areas such as employment and public services, which the government denies.
 
“Where are the jobs? ... We will not bow to anyone but god. We are not scared of anyone and I'm ready to die for my country,” said Abdelghani al-Marzouq, a 51-year-old engineer who was at the demonstration.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid