- Title: BAHRAIN: Thousands of Bahrainis march peacefully for democratic reforms
- Date: 23rd August 2013
- Summary: BUDAIYA HIGHWAY, WEST OF MANAMA, BAHRAIN (AUGUST 23, 2013) (REUTERS) YOUNG GIRLS SITTING ON LAWN NEAR BUDAIYA HIGHWAY HOLDING POSTERS AHEAD OF RALLY FEMALE PROTESTERS WEARING BLACK ABAYA GATHERED AHEAD OF RALLY WOMAN CARRYING SMALL CHILD AND HOLDING POSTER READING: "NO TO OFFICIAL TERROR" FEMALE PROTESTER PICKING UP BAHRAINI FLAGS FROM A PILE ON THE GROUND PROTESTERS SITTING ALONG FOOT PATH HOLDING POSTERS BANNER READYING IN ARABIC: "MASS RALLY, BAHRAIN, AUGUST 23, 2013" MALE PROTESTERS MARCHING ALONG THE HIGHWAY HOLDING BANNERS AND BAHRAINI FLAGS WHILE CHANTING SLOGANS PROTESTERS MARCHING VARIOUS OF MEN AND CHILDREN MARCHING AND CHANTING, HOLDING FLAGS AND POSTERS PROTESTERS WEARING MASKS WITH HANDS TIED UP MARCHING IN FRONT OF RALLY MAN HOLDING POSTER READING IN ENGLISH: "NO TO OFFICIAL TERROR" VARIOUS OF WOMEN MARCHING AND CHANTING, HOLDING BANNERS, POSTERS AND BAHRAINI FLAGS VARIOUS OF WOMEN CHANTING SLOGANS VARIOUS OF WOMEN PROTESTERS MARCHING
- Embargoed: 7th September 2013 13:00
- Location: Bahrain
- Country: Bahrain
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAA6SCOY33ME8E06JY930KONZ3G
- Story Text: Thousands of Bahrainis were allowed to march peacefully outside Manama calling for democratic reforms on Friday (August 23), 10 days after police cracked down on scattered protests organised by an online group inspired by recent demonstrations in Egypt.
Waving Bahrain's red and white flag and carrying pictures of political prisoners, the protesters denounced King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa and Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa. "Down with Hamad," they chanted.
"We are here ... because we want freedom. We are used to oppression, and teargas and beatings," said Hayat al-Abbar, a 38-year-old secretary who joined the march.
Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet, has been buffeted by bouts of unrest since February 2011 when an uprising led by the Shi'ite majority demanded the Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty give up power.
The authorities crushed the revolt, killing at least 35 people, but small-scale protests and clashes have persisted, putting Bahrain on the front line of a tussle for regional influence between Shi'ite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.
"We seek our freedom and dignity and will never forget those who sacrificed their lives," Friday's protesters chanted.
Police stayed away from the march, which was organised by the country's main opposition parties and took place west of the capital.
The Bahrain government in July passed a law banning all protests in the capital Manama. King Hamad also toughened penalties in anti-terrorism laws.
On Aug. 14, the authorities fired teargas and birdshot to disperse demonstrators responding to an online call for street action by a new activist group calling itself Tamarrod, according to witnesses.
The group was inspired by the movement of the same name that helped muster massive protests against Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi before the military removed him on July 3.
The Bahrain opposition demands a constitutional monarchy with a government chosen from within a democratically-elected parliament. It complains of discrimination against majority Shi'ites in areas such as employment and public services, which the government denies.
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