Not that they’re anything but secular pro-democracy protesters, doncha know.
“Bahrain crackdown enrages Shiites across region,” by Barbara Surk for The Associated Press, March 18:
MANAMA, Bahrain “” Bahrain’s army on Friday demolished the 300-foot (90-meter) monument that had become a symbol of a monthlong Shiite uprising against the Sunni monarchy in the Gulf nation.
The destruction of the six white curved beams topped with a huge cement pearl underlined the resolve of the Sunni regime to root out any dissent in the kingdom, now under emergency rule.
The structure was built in Pearl Square as a monument to Bahrain’s history as a pearl-diving center but became associated with the protests that have roiled the majority Shiite nation. Security forces overran a protest camp at the square on Wednesday, setting off clashes that killed at least five people, including two policemen. At least 12 people have been killed in the month-long revolt.
Bahrain’s foreign minister, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, told reporters in Manama that the army brought down the monument because “it was a bad memory.”
“We are not waging war, we are restoring law and order,” Khalid said at a press conference in Manama….
Shiites account for 70 percent of the tiny island’s half-million people but they are widely excluded from high-level posts and positions in the police and military of the country, whic is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.
Shiite anger rose sharply around the Mideast on Friday as large crowds in Iran and Iraq cursed Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy and its Saudi backers over the violent crackdown on protesters demanding more rights.
Amateur video footage of security forces shooting and beating protesters has spread across the internet and fueled fury in predominantly Shiite Iraq and in Iran, where a senior cleric on Friday urged Bahraini protesters to keep going until victory or death.
“Brothers and sisters” in Bahrain should “resist against the enemy until you die or win,” Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati told worshippers at Friday prayers at Tehran University, a nationally televised forum seen as expressing the views of Iran’s ruling Shiite clergy.
Worshippers chanted angry slogans against Saudi Arabia’s royal family, which has sent troops to back Bahrain’s king.
“There is no God but Allah, Al Saud is God’s enemy,” some chanted in Arabic. One Persian banner read, “Death to Al Saud.”
Across Iraq, thousands rallied in mostly Shiite cities in the country’s largest demonstrations since a wave of dissent spread across the Middle East in the wake of Tunisia’s overthrow of its autocratic president.
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani “” Iraqi-based Shiism’s highest ranking cleric in the Mideast “” suspended teachings at religious schools across Iraq on Friday in a show of solidarity with the protesters.
A representative of al-Sistani warned during his Friday sermon in the holy city of Karbala that the brutal images of what is happening in Bahrain will inflame passions and lead to sectarian problems in the region.
“I am ready to sacrifice by my soul, blood and money to support and help our brothers in Bahrain,” said one protester in Baghdad, Younis al-Moussawi….
The United States bases the 5th Fleet in Bahrain partly to counter Iran’s military reach around the region.
At least for now.