First authorised protest in Bahrain gathers thousands

Nouran El-Behairy
4 Min Read
Egypt welcomes ‘great success’ of Bahrain elections. (AFP FILE PHOTO / MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH)
Bahrain protesters returned to the streets of Manama for an authorised opposition rally AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH
Bahrain protesters returned to the streets of Manama for an authorised opposition rally

Thousands of Bahrainis joined an opposition rally on Friday to demand the release of activists, in the first authorised opposition protest since the protest ban in June.

The protesters chanted anti-government slogans during their march between the Jannusan and Saar areas west of the capital Manama and shouted “we don’t forget the prisoners” reported AFP; they also held flags, pictures of detained activists and banners reading “free Nabil Rajab” referring to the Bahraini human rights activist who was sentenced for three years in prison two weeks ago for leading illegal protests.

The protests were led by the biggest opposition Bloc, Al-Wefak National Islamic Society, along with other opposition groups under the slogan “Liberty and Democracy”. It was considered a peaceful march as, according to Reuters, there were no clashes as the protesters marched for two miles on a highway west of Manama.

The official website of Al-Wefak said that the rally comes days before the UN Human Rights Council session that will be held mid-September in which the situation in Bahrain will be discussed and the human rights’ violations committed by the regime will be revealed.

The Bahraini Ministry of Interior released a statement on Friday in which the General Director of Northern Governorate police announced violations that targeted private and public property during the protest.

The statement on the ministry’s website said that the participants chanted illegal political slogans and that the case will be referred to the competent authorities.

Deputy prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa had met with members of Al-Wefak on Thursday upon their request; according to Bahrain News Agency (BNA) Al-Khalifa welcomed the meeting in an effort to encourage all parties to engage in national dialogue for the sake of Bahrain’s progress.

The Al-Wefak official website said that the meeting was to break the political stalemate and to show Al-Wefak’s openness for the aim of achieving stability and security in Bahrain.

In a separate development, a Bahrain policeman is facing premeditated murder charges for killing a teenage protester in Muharraq on 17 August.

The BNA quoted the Head of Special Investigations Unit at the Public Prosecution, Nawaf Hamza, saying that the policeman, whose name was not revealed, was released but has been banned from travelling.

According to BNA, a group of 25 to 30 demonstrators assaulted a police patrol on 17 August in the Muharraq area east of Manama using molotov cocktails, and one of the protestors, sixteen-year-old Shi’a, Hussam Al-Haddad, was shot by a policeman as he was about to throw molotov at him from a close distance.

However, the public prosecution later issued a statement saying that the charges were preliminary and investigations were still in progress, and it’s likely to be a case of self defence, AFP reported.

Unrest has continued in Bahrain since the revolution led by Shi’a majority started 18 months ago to demand democracy and reform in the kingdom ruled by Sunni minority.

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