Manama cracks down on popular protests
/ Agencies) - In view of the new anti-government protests announced for the
14th of August, the government of Bahrain yesterday approved a tightening of
punishment for acts of a terrorist nature. BNA,
the national news agency, reports that King Hamad has asked the authorities to
"pass the measure through constitutional and legal channels."
Bahrain, an ally of Washington and supported by Riyadh, has been unsettled by continuous protests since early 2011, when the first tumult of the Arab Spring swept across many countries of North Africa and the Middle East. The main fomenter of dissent is the Shiite majority, which is calling for greater freedom and recognition from the government elite (of Sunni orientation). Over the past few weeks, in the wake of the success of the Tamarod (Egyptian rebel movement), the protesters have regained momentum and strength, even attacking the home of a member of parliament and a mosque in a neighborhood inhabited by some members of the royal family.
Faced with the announcement by demonstrators of massive march on 14 August, the government stated that "anyone who participates in the protest will face the force of law." The government has also banned the holding of demonstrations in Manama. The statement, similar in tone to that issued by the Egyptian Armed Forces to Morsi supporters, calls for restraint of political speech in order to promote social cohesion and the punishment, without any details, of "any act of terrorism or of a violent nature" .