Bahrainis Urge Democracy as Crowds Swell; Protests Spread to Libya, Yemen

Friday, February 18, 2011
By Paul Martin

By Glen Carey and Caroline Alexander
Bloomberg.com
Feb 18, 2011

A senior leader of Bahrain’s Shiites said the government must resign and parliament shut down pending a transition to democracy in an address to the biggest crowd in five days of protests as unrest spread to Libya and Yemen.

Abdulwahab Hussain told more than 10,000 demonstrators in front of a mosque in Sitra, south of the capital, Manama, that the minister of the interior should be tried after at least five people were killed in a police crackdown on the protests. “The government is unstable,” he said. “The police can’t break the will of the people.”

Earlier, thousands of mostly Shiite Muslims attended the funeral of two protesters, hugging their coffins and shouting: “We sacrifice for Bahrain.” Government supporters staged counter-demonstrations in Manama today.

The dissent in the Persian Gulf island state that is home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet follows the toppling of autocratic rulers by popular movements in Egypt and Tunisia and marks the spread of dissent into the Persian Gulf, where most of the Middle East’s oil is produced. The past week has also seen anti-government protests and clashes in Libya, Africa’s biggest holder of crude oil reserves, and Yemen, a producer of liquefied natural gas. Brent crude futures this week rose to the highest level since 2008.

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