Friday, March 11, 2011

Bahrain protests reach US embassy

Bahrain protests reach US embassy

Dozens of demonstrators gather to call on Washington to press for political reform in the Gulf state

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Protesters outside the US embassy on Monday urged Washington 'not to support the dictatorship in Bahrain' [Reuters]

Dozens of Shia Muslim political activists in Bahrain have gathered outside the US embassy, one of several scenes of protest in the Gulf state, calling on Washington to press for political reforms.

Activists gathered at a fence set up in front of the embassy on Monday, chanting slogans in English and Arabic against the monarchy of Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa.

Opposition supporters claim that the US is showing less support for the movements in Bahrain than it did for the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that ousted those countries' presidents.

The AFP news agency reported that a US embassy political officer, Ludovic Hood, brought a box of doughnuts for
the demonstrators as they gathered down the street from the embassy in the run-up to the rally.

"These sweets are a good gesture, but we hope it is translated into practical actions," Mohammed Hassan, who wore the white turban of a cleric, told Hood.

But Zeinab al-Khawaja, a protest organiser, told Al Jazeera that the US needed to keep its distance from events in Bahrain.

"We want America not to get involved, we can overthrow this regime," she said. "All we want is for America not to support the dictatorship in Bahrain."

Bahrain is a strategic US ally and home to the US Fifth Fleet.

Elsewhere, Al Jazeera's correspondent reported scores of protesters gathering on the main road outside the Bahrain Financial Harbour (BFH).

Some of the protesters waved one dinar notes, claiming it was the amount of money that Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, the prime minister, had spent when he "bought" the land for the BFH.

Bahrain has been wracked by weeks of protests by its Shia Muslim majority, which has long complained of discrimination and political persecution in the island kingdom.

The Al-Khalifa family, which has ruled Bahrain for more than 200 years, is Sunni.

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