Bahrain police attacked the headquarters of the main Shiite opposition party in the capital on Friday, after the group challenged a new government ban on its weekly protests, the Associated Press reported.
Security forces fired rubber bullets at the headquarters and used tear gas to disperse hundreds of people trying to protest elsewhere in the capital. This was the latest episode between Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy and the opposition movement in the last 10 months of unrest. The movement is led by Shiites, the country’s majority, who have long complained of discrimination, the AP reported.
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According to Al Jazeera, Matar Matar, a former al-Wefaw member of parliament said the people had given the government proper notice of the protest but police still used excessive force to remove them.
“Today, the government did not allow us to do our protest. Even the legal protests are facing difficulty and the space is reducing for the freedom of expression,” Matar told Al Jazeera. “We were expecting the opposite after the BICI [Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry] report; that there would be more space.”
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This was the first time the weekly Friday protesters were banned by authorities since emergency laws were lifted in June. The Interior Ministry gave reasons for banning the event, saying that it would block road traffic and endanger others in the area, the AP reported. The Ministry also said on its Twitter account that a group of people hurled stones at police forces.
Shiite clerics defied government orders on Friday and still held prayer services on the rubble of mosques that had been bulldozed by the government earlier this year. It was the first time Shiite clerics took part in the protest movement, the AP reported. According to the Shiites, at least 38 mosques used by their congregations have been bulldozed since protests began in February.
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