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Thu 17 Feb 2011 10:52 AM

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‘It’s not about religion; it’s about human rights’

Bahraini activist speaks out on the trigger factors behind the protests sweeping the Gulf state

‘It’s not about religion; it’s about human rights’
Bahrain protests, February 14

Bahraini
Shiites and Sunni Muslims are demonstrating side by side in a unified call for
democracy and greater freedom of speech, an activist has told Arabian Business.

Street
protests that have gathered crowds of thousands do not reflect a religious
divide in the Gulf state, but rather a push for equality, Amal Fareed said.

 “We live rich country with poor people and
that needs to change,” Fareed told Arabian Business. “Demands need to be met;
we need to have a major change in the government, we need to have a major
change in the constitution, we need a constitution that guarantees us living in
dignity and having more freedom.

Thousands
have taken to Bahrain’s streets in the past three days to demand more say in a
country where poverty and high unemployment has caused widespread discontent.

 “Ten years ago things seemed very bright, we
[thought we] can actually practice politics, we can actually be part of the
government and make decisions for our country and our people but then there
were set backs along the way,” Fareed said.

At least
two protestors were killed in the early hours of Thursday morning after Bahrain
police stormed Pearl Square firing teargas and rubber bullets.

Hundreds
had camped out at the site, a road junction in the capital that they sought to
turn into the base of a long-running protest like that at Cairo's Tahrir Square
which led to the downfall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

At least
four protestors have been killed since Bahrain’s ‘Day of Rage’ began on
Tuesday.

Speaking
on Wednesday, Fareed said the global media had attempted to portray the unrest
as a religious feud, pitting Sunnis against Shiites.

 “It’s not one sect or the other, you have all
sects here, Shiites, [and] Sunnis,” Fareed said.

“The
international media, and local media, is trying to make it seem like this is a
sectarian thing and its Iran’s agenda inside Bahrain but being here I can see
people from all sects.”

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Pubali Batash 9 years ago

It seems the entire Arab world is now feeling the spirit of change, as exemplified by Egypt. I'm sure the world would welcome the spread of democracy, and freedom for all people. I'm really surprised that Obama is making such anti-democracy comments recently, and not being more openly supportive. The latest example is the TMZ clip that captured some off the cuff comments from Obama.
The protest movement's next move is unclear, but the island nation has been rocked by street battles as recently as last summer.

Syed 9 years ago

Winds of Change blowing across Middle East and Africa, The Tunisians & Egyptians have provided the much needed catalyst to all the suppressed masses in other countries. Rightly so. Look at all the places (except iran) where revolts are underway. The rulers in those countries are not the voice of the people. They have either taken the hot seat by means of a military coup,by force, by rigging the elections or power has been handed by legacy from father to son. These rulers have not done enough for their people which has added to the frustration in the masses. For some of the rulers the power has become like a second skin and refuse to listen to the wishes and demands of its people.
Poverty,hunger,unemployment & insecurity is the order of the day in such countries.