Move comes hours after minister calls for harsher jail terms for attacks on police
Bahrain’s Cabinet said it plans to draft a law that would impose a sentence of as long as 15 years in jail on protesters who assault policemen, state-run Bahrain News Agency said.
The move came hours after Bahraini Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, speaking ahead of the first anniversary of anti-government riots, suggested the punishment in a statement carried by BNA.
Following the Cabinet’s weekly meeting, Minister of Cabinet Affairs Kamal Mohammed said the government expressed “deep concern” over the increasing violence during unauthorized protests lately, BNA said.
He said the Cabinet has decided to provide policemen with more protection.
Shiite Muslim demonstrators have stepped up their protests against the government in recent weeks, beginning an anti-police campaign, dubbed Bahrain Fist, aimed at preventing security forces from entering Shiite villages. One protester died in custody and at least 41 policemen were injured last week.
The interior minister said Bahraini authorities have arrested “numerous” protesters during the past few days for attacking police with sharp objects and Molotov cocktails, BNA said.
The tensions come a few weeks before the first anniversary of anti-regime protests led by members of the Shiite majority demanding a more representative government and greater rights from the country’s Sunni Muslim rulers.
Thirty-five people died between Feb 14 and April 15, according to the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, which investigated the unrest. Neighboring Saudi Arabia, also a Sunni monarchy, sent troops to Bahrain, which hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, to help restore order.