Reuters blog archive
Bahrain declared martial law on Tuesday as it struggles to quell an uprising by the island's Shi'ite Muslim majority that has drawn in troops from fellow Sunni-ruled neighbour Saudi Arabia. The three-month state of emergency will hand wholesale power to Bahrain's security forces, which are dominated by the country's Sunni Muslim elite, stoking sectarian tensions in one of the Gulf's most politically volatile nations.
The United States, a close ally of both Bahrain and Saudi, said it was concerned about reports of growing sectarianism in the country, which is home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, and warned that violence from any side would make matters worse.
"A political solution is necessary and all sides must now work to produce a dialogue that addresses the needs of all of Bahrain's citizens," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said in Washington.
When thousands of young Algerians rioted earlier this year over price rises and living conditions, the government asked state-employed Muslim clerics to preach sermons in the mosques appealing for calm. Now, two months later, the clerics themselves are protesting. "We are very angry, and our daily living conditions are bad," said Hajaj El Hadj, an imam at a mosque near the capital for over 20 years. "We demand a significant pay rise."
Saudi Arabia's ruling family has mobilised the power of its conservative religious establishment to prevent a wave of uprisings against Arab autocrats from roaring into its kingdom, home to more than a fifth of the world's known oil reserves. Whether these traditional tactics will work with a young population that grew up in the information revolution age, with the ability to use the internet to organise and spread awareness of ideas of universal rights to political participation, is still to be tested.
Saudi Arabia's council of senior clerics has issued a statement forbidding as un-Islamic the public protests, which the rulers of the U.S. ally and key oil exporter fear could spread following demonstrations by minority Shi'ites. The kingdom has escaped major protests like those which toppled leaders in Egypt and Tunisia, but the wave of unrest has reached its neighbours Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan and Oman.
A coalition of Libyan Islamic leaders has issued a fatwa telling all Muslims it is their duty to rebel against the Libyan leadership. The group also demanded the release of fellow Islamic scholar Sadiq al-Ghriani, who was arrested after criticising the government, and "all imprisoned demonstrators, including many of our young students".
Calling itself the Network of Free Ulema of Libya, the group of over 50 Muslim scholars said the government and its supporters "have demonstrated total arrogant impunity and continued, and even intensified, their bloody crimes against humanity."
About 15,000 demonstrators have protested in Tunis against the country's Islamist movement, calling for religious tolerance a day after the Interior Ministry announced a Polish Catholic priest had been murdered by an extremist group.
The bloody crackdown on protesters in Libya has prompted about 50 Libyan Muslim religious leaders to issue an appeal to the security forces as Muslims to stop the killing or face the wrath of God.
Dozens of protesters were killed in clashes with Libyan security forces in the eastern city of Benghazi on Saturday, an eyewitness told Reuters, in the worst unrest in Muammar Gaddafi's four decades in power. Snipers fired at protesters from a compound to which they had withdrawn, said the resident, who did not want to be named.
from Oddly Enough Blog:
Blog Guy, what is your policy on negotiating with extremists?
Your policy. Now that you qualify as a Senior Blogger, you have to take some shifts directing counter-terrorism tactical units. You didn't see that in the Facebook Network rules?
No, I guess I just clicked on AGREE, like everybody else. But I'll tell you this, I will never negotiate with extremists. We will not compromise.
Hundreds of Muslim radicals set two churches ablaze and attacked a court in Indonesia's central Java on Tuesday, calling for harsh punishment for a Christian on trial for blasphemy, police said.
About 1,500 far-right protesters marched through the centre of the British city of Luton Saturday to rally against "militant Islam," requiring a heavy police presence to avert clashes with 1,000 anti-fascist demonstrators. A sixth of Luton's population is Muslim, and past marches by the English Defence League have led to conflict with their opponents. The city centre turned into a virtual ghost town before the rally, with shops boarded up and pubs closed.