Egypt-style protests rock Bahrain, demonstrators crowd ‘Pearl Square’ in Manama

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

MANAMA - Thousands of protesters gathered at the main square in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, in an Egypt-style rebellion demanding political reform and greater freedoms.

According to the Daily Mail, many in the ‘Pearl Square’ waved Bahraini flags and chanted: ‘No Sunnis, no Shiites. We are all Bahrainis.’

They also erected banners such as ‘Peaceful’ that were prominent in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicentre of protests in Egypt.

It also appeared that the protesters were planning for the long haul, as some groups were seen carrying tents.

Meanwhile, security forces have blocked key highways in an apparent attempt to choke off access to the square, which protesters have renamed ‘Nation’s Square’.

The dramatic move came just hours after two protesters died in clashes with security forces.

The opposition groups are not calling for the ruling Sunni monarchy to be ousted, but they do want an end to its grip on key decisions and government posts.

Other demands, listed on a poster erected in the square, included the release of all political prisoners, more jobs and housing, an elected Cabinet and the replacement of longtime Prime Minister, Sheik Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.

Bahrain is one of the most politically volatile nations in the Middle East’s wealthiest corner despite having one of the few elected parliaments and some of the most robust civil society groups.

The nation’s majority Shiites - about 70 per cent of the population of some 500,000 - have long complained of discrimination and being blackballed from important state jobs. (ANI)

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