Protests in Bahrain’s Shi’ite neighbourhoods fall on deaf ears

June 9, 2011

(Shi'ite protesters march in the Sanabis neighbourhood in Manama June 3, 2011/Hamad I Mohammed)

In a poor district of Bahrain’s capital, a few hundred people marched through cramped, crumbling alleyways banging pans and screaming, “Down with the regime.” A mile (1.5 km) away, in the city centre, with its gleaming malls and office blocks, no one heard them.

A week after the tiny Gulf island kingdom repealed martial law, and despite the lingering presence of a few checkpoints, much of Manama seems almost back to normal. “Everything is quiet, there’s nothing wrong. I haven’t heard about any problems,” a man who gave his name as Khalifa said as he walked to a Starbucks coffee shop.

Not so in the Shi’ite neighbourhoods where protests first erupted in February, inspired by upheaval elsewhere in the Arab world that toppled longtime rulers in Egypt and Tunisia. “They’re saying that security has returned. Look at this, there is no security,” a protester said, ducking into a neighbour’s home as a sound grenade fired by police shrieked past.

Shi’ite residents say that if this is the new normal, tense days lie ahead. “I think we’ll remain in this unstable situation until there is some kind of political solution. It’s not going back to normal,” well-known activist Nabeel Rajab said.

Read the full story by Erika Solomon here.

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