Bahrainis decry “terror”


Issues of violence main topic of National Dialogue
  • By Mick O’Reilly Senior Associate Editor

Manama:An estimated 20,000 Bahrainis turned out on Thursday evening to condemn street violence and protests that have plagued this island kingdom for the last two years.
Centred on the Islamic Education Society in Arad near Manama’s airport, police and security forces imposed a tight cordon around the National Unity Assembly (NUA) event to prevent any disruption by counter-protesters. Police faced riotous crowds and disturbances in a number of villages around Manama where anti-government sentiment and sectarian differences run deep.
The Bahrain branch of the Open University was targeted by a group of teens who vandalised vehicles and broke windows. But more troubling for police was the detonation of a small bomb in front of the Creditmax building around 7pm Thursday. No one was injured by the crude device -- but the incident shows that anti-government protesters are gradually evolving from street protesters into more violent activists.
NUA president Dr Shaikh Abdul Latif Al Mahmood said that the violence had to stop before real political and social progress could be made.“We are here to discuss the future of Bahrain and to tell everyone that we are one nation with no differences,” he said. “All of Bahrain and all Bahrainis have been affected by the political situation. We admit that there are some who are trying to exploit our country and external forces are trying to control the political situation as in Lebanon. We will never let them control us. Our teenagers and youngsters are intelligent enough to understand right from wrong. We totally condemn violence.”
Since a terrorist cell was unveiled by police last week, tensions are running high over fears that Iran may be more than a noisy neighbour across the Arabian Gulf. Four Iranians including a Revolutionary Guard are still at large while eight others are under arrest for their roles in organising the cell and carrying out subversive acts including preparing stores for arms caches and monitoring security force movements and identifying potential targets for terrorist attack. During the NUA rally, many carried placards reading “Bahrain Without Terrorism”, “Hands Off Bahrain” and “No to Iran and America”.
Ibrahim Al Jabri told Gulf News that he was taking part in the rally to declare his love for the Royal Family of Bahrain and the government.

“I don’t want my sons to live in a kingdom that is ripped apart and where teens defy parents and riot every night,” Al Jabri said.
“We must have the rule of the law not the rule of the street. For the last two years all we have had is violence. Most Bahrainis want peace and to be left alone.”
The next session of National Dialogue talks gets underway Sunday. The issue of continuing violence is dominating the sessions with a coalition of Sunni political societies wanting anti-government Shiite societies to denounce the near-nightly disturbances. That’s a move the anti-government side is unwilling to do, instead preferring to denounce all violence by all parties -- including the use of force by security and police forces.