MANAMA, Sept 7 Police fired tear gas and stun
grenades at dozens of anti-government protesters who defied a
ban on unauthorised demonstrations and marched in the centre of
Bahraini capital Manama on Friday.
Bahrain, where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based, has been in
political turmoil since a protest movement dominated by majority
Shi'ite Muslims erupted in February 2011 during a wave of
revolts against authoritarian governments across the Arab world.
The Sunni Muslim ruling Al Khalifa family put down the
uprising with martial law, troops from Saudi Arabia and police
from the United Arab Emirates, but unrest has resumed, with
almost daily clashes between Shi'ites and police.
Armoured vehicles and riot police closed off some of the
main roads leading into the city but protesters still made it to
Friday's march, which had been called by Bahrain's main
opposition bloc Al Wefaq and tweeted as "freedom for prisoners
Last week, a march attended by tens of thousands of
demonstrators that had also been organised by Al Wefaq together
with other opposition groups and which the authorities had
approved passed without incident.
On Tuesday, a Bahraini civilian court upheld jail sentences
of between five and 25 years against leaders of last year's
pro-democracy uprising, a decision that could fuel more unrest
in the small Gulf Arab state. Al Wefaq condemned the ruling.
Opposition parties led by Al Wefaq are demanding full powers
for the elected parliament to legislate and form governments.
Many Shi'ites complain of being politically and economically
marginalised, which the government denies.