1. What happened on Friday
The situation in Bahrain is not good in general. Every night we can't have a good sleep because of smothering tear gas, low- flying helicopter and stun grenades. Skirmishes between youths and security forces in Shiite residential areas continue until early hours of the morning.
As for today (Friday) this is the first time Al-Wefaq was not allowed to go ahead with its weekly gathering (since the end of martial law last June).
The site of the gathering designated for this Friday is not far away
from the HQ of Al-Wefaq. The security forces sealed-off the area and
used tear gas (as well as rubber bullets sometimes) to prevent the
gathering. Those who couldn't reach the site went to Al-Wefaq HQ and
hence another attack by the security took place that hit the
officers and surrounds. All the roads leading to the HQ and the
designated site for the gathering were blocked by security forces.
2. New category of opposition activities initiated
Also to note: today (Friday) there was an important announcement made at Duraz mosque by Islamic Clerics Council (Shiite) denouncing the the crime of destructing 38 Shiite mosques during the martial law period (March -June 2011) and continuing to prevent those who attempted to pray on the grounds of those destroyed mosques.
The council announced the start of "a campaign to defend religious sites".
This means the following: since Feb 2011, Bahrain witnessed two types of opposition activities. One is led by what is now called " Feb 14 Youths" and the other is by "Al-Wefaq and it's political allies".
Now, a third category of activities had stated and is led by the Islamic Clerics Council" and is specifically focussing on the destroyed mosques. Each site of a destroyed mosque would now have a cleric to lead prayers on the flattened grounds. This will of course be leading to frictions and possibly clashes burble a different kind (remember that this is now purely aimed ad defending a religious right)
3. Top Shiite cleric Sheik Isa Qassim repeated the term "democracy" many times in his Friday sermon (notably the first with such intensity)
His sermon on Friday at Duraz Mosque (Northwest of Bahrain) on 23
December 2011, included statements such as these
- we demand democracy for all people, Sunni and Shiite, and we
understand the approach of the government that aims to divide our
people. We are the ones who insist on unity and democracy, and
because of this we are viciously targeted by the government.
- we do not call for a Shiite democracy... Democracy doesn't believe
in Sunni or Shiite, it is for all people, and the corrupt rule is
disadvantaged by democracy.
- we have no democracy and nothing is left for freedom of
expression, protection of religious places, protection of security
of citizens, no public freedoms, continuation of corrupt
practices, and continuation of violations. Our women are being
detained like animals, as happened to Zainab Al-Khawajah.
- after issuing the Bassiouni report and after the visit by the
delegation of the UN Human Rights Commission, we see a
continuation of intimidations and violations. The government is
effectively declaring that it will not reform.
- we say to global powers and international community that we
deserve a better situation and if they agree that we deserve
political and civil rights in the same way as all people all over
world, then we call on them to publicly condemn the government and
to apply pressure that go beyond statements. We need actual
pressure that deliver results. We saw the visits by UN, US and UK
officials and all witnessed what is going on.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
A New Crackdown?
I'm in London this week, but Friday's events in Bahrain demand at least one update here. I don't have time to write at length myself, but the following instructive analysis of Mansur al-Jamri (via the Gulf/2K mailing list) will more than suffice:
Posted by Justin Gengler at 3:51 PM