Bahrain crown prince calls for dialogue: TV

DUBAI Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:12pm EST

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DUBAI (Reuters) - Bahrain's crown prince, known as a reformer among royals in the Gulf Arab kingdom, called on Friday for calm, saying it was "time for dialogue, not fighting."

Thousands of mainly Shi'ite demonstrators, emboldened by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, have held protests in Bahrain since a "Day of Rage" on February 14 to demand more say in the Sunni-ruled island state.

"The dialogue is always open and the reforms continue," Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa said on Bahrain TV. "This land is for all citizens of Bahrain ... All honest people at this time should say 'enough'."

"We need to call for self-restraint from all sides, the armed forces, security men and citizens," he said. "I urge you, there should be calm. Now is time for calm."

Bahraini troops shot at protesters near Pearl Square on Friday and wounded 23, a former Shi'ite lawmaker said. At least four Bahraini protestors were killed on Thursday when riot police drove activists from a makeshift camp in the capital.

King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa rules a population of 1.3 million, half of them expatriates. The U.S. State Department estimates that 70 percent of Bahraini nationals are Shi'ites.

"I respect Wefaq, as I respect others. Today is the time to sit down and hold a dialogue, not to fight," the crown prince said.

Wefaq, the main Shi'ite bloc with 17 of 40 assembly seats, competes with Sunni Islamist groups and the secular group Waad.

Wefaq MPs all resigned from parliament on Thursday in protest at the police raid on Pearl Square.

The overthrow of Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak this year has inspired popular revolts elsewhere in North Africa and the Middle East..

(Reporting by Martina Fuchs and Firouz Sedarat; editing by Alistair Lyon)

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Comments (2)
morristhewise wrote:
Saudi Kings will end the revolution by offering a bounty for the heads and ears of infidels and apostates. A thousand for the head of an infidel and fifteen hundred for the ears of an apostate.

Feb 18, 2011 1:08pm EST  --  Report as abuse
johnmac wrote:
I Lived in Bahrain many years ago when it was under the benevolent leadership of Sheik Esa Bin Sulman Al khalifa, at that time it was an oasis of common sense and racial integration and I believe it still is, certainly the Island and its eclectic mic of Arab races took me to its heart and I spent some of the happiest times of my life there. Yes the ruling family has always been a benevolent autocracy and perhaps a little distanced from its people but in my experience they have always been a kind and generous autocracy, certainly in no way comparable with the excessively controlling leadership in Iraq, Egypt, Iran and other Arab states. It’s true that there is preferential treatment, it has always been this way and yes it is time for change but not through applying death and destruction, Bahrain inequality does not warrant the levels of violence and destruction witnessed in other areas of the Middle East.
I can only plea with those who can influence this current situation to talk with Sheik Khalifa, he will listen and it is everyones interest to bring this current situation to an end. Some people have died and that is the tragic consequence of fear and hate but harbouring that hate and fear will only make the situation worse, it’s time to stop, focus on those things that bring you together and make you the wonderful eclectic mix of people you are, and stop taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
I wish you well Bahrain.

John Macleod

JOHN MACLEOD

Feb 18, 2011 2:11pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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