Monday, May 28, 2012
The Protests By Shiite Majority Against Ruling Sunni Dynasty In Bahrain
The wave of protests by the Shiite majority in Bahrain against the ruling Sunni dynasty has intensified sectarian tensions in the small Gulf kingdom that is fast approaching complete political paralysis.
"At the moment there is no more trust between the communities," said prominent Sunni cleric Abdullatif Mahmud, accusing the main Shiite opposition formation Al-Wefaq of being behind the mutual suspicions.
"Wefaq works for the interest of its community and not for that of the country," said Mahmud, head of the National Unity Assembly (NUA) formed at the height of Shiite-led anti-regime protests last year, at a pro-government rally.
"The street is divided, but thanks to God we have not reached a sectarian confrontation," he said, adding: "There is no place for dialogue between the NUA and Wefaq which does not recognise us as a political force."
Shiite demonstrators are back on the street in Bahrain almost daily, calling for the fall of the regime of King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa, whose family has ruled the Gulf archipelago since 1783.
"Down with Hamad," chanted some 3,000 protesters who rallied last week in the Shiite village of Muqsha, shortly after a UN debate in Geneva on the human rights situation in Bahrain.
They dubbed their rally venue Liberty Square to avoid confrontation with police by trying to return to Manama's former Pearl Square, where protesters camped for a month last year before being driven out in a mid-March crackdown.
In stark contrast, large posters of King Hamad and his son, Crown Prince Sheikh Salman, have been put up at main squares in Manama.
There are also posters of Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, an uncle of King Hamad who has been in office for 40 years and is widely despised by the Shiites.
A tentative attempt early this year to reignite dialogue between the palace and the opposition was short-lived, with each side accusing the other of throwing a spanner in the works.