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Unrest in Bahrain

1:24 PM, Feb 15, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Last week, we saw the fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. Yesterday, there were protests in Tehran directed toward the regime in Iran. And today, in Bahrain, "More than 10,000 people streamed into the capital’s central Pearl Square on Tuesday in the largest political protest to hit this Persian Gulf kingdom in recent memory," as the New York Times reports.

The protests in Bahrain have been steadily increasing -- mainly because a protester was killed yesterday. At least one other protester was reportedly killed today.

In the streets, they've taken up a democratic tone:

Protesters chanted: “We’re not Sunni. We’re not Shiite. We just want to be free.” While festive, the atmosphere among protesters, who passed out sandwiches and talked about creating their own version of Egypt’s Tahrir Square, was cut through with a sense of foreboding as dozens of police cars could be seen gathering nearby. The police blocked protesters from the square on Monday.... 

With only about a million residents, half of them foreign workers, Bahrain has long been among the most politically volatile countries in the region. The principal tension is between the royal family under King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and the ruling elites, who are mostly Sunnis, on one side, and the approximately 70 percent of the population that is Shiite, on the other.

But protesters young and old called for a new Constitution and democratic changes to allow for a more effective representative Parliament and government. King Hamad has been promising to open up the political system for a decade, but progress has been slow.

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