June 12, 2011 / 12:39 PM / 8 years ago

Bahraini protest poet gets one-year jail term

MANAMA (Reuters) - A Bahraini court sentenced a young Shi’ite poet to one year in prison on Sunday for taking part in illegal protests and incitement against the Gulf state’s monarchy.

Ayat al-Qurmouzi, 20, was arrested after she recited a poem mocking the Bahraini king and demanding he step down, during protests led by the country’s Shi’ite majority that gripped the kingdom in February and March.

A relative confirmed her sentence, saying Qurmouzi’s family had feared for her safety in detention.

Bahrain, a U.S. ally that hosts the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, called in troops from its fellow Sunni-led Gulf neighbor Saudi Arabia to help it crush the pro-democracy protests in March.

Qurmouzi is one of about 400 people, most of them Shi’ites, who the Shi’ite opposition party Wefaq says have been put on trial for their roles in the protests.

Some 50 people have already been given sentences ranging from short prison terms to execution, the group says.

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights said in a statement on Sunday that Qurmouzi and others had been ill-treated in custody.

The kingdom’s rulers blamed sectarianism and Iran’s manipulation of its Shi’ite co-religionists for the protests, but Qurmouzi said in her poem that Sunnis and Shi’ites were united against Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.

Reporting by Nour Merza and Erika Solomon; editing by Tim Pearce

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