Bahrainis protest U.S. support for Khalifa regime

March 8, 2011 - 0:0

MANAMA - Bahrainis on Monday protested outside the U.S. Embassy in a call for the United States to support their campaign for greater political freedom.

The opposition supporters claimed during the protest rally that Washington is showing less support for the uprising in Bahrain than it did for the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt that ousted the countries' presidents, AP reported.
The protesters called on Washington to stop supporting the autocratic regime of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.
According to the Press TV, the protesters chanted slogans such as “Down down Hamad” -- a reference to the country's king -- and “Down with the monarchy! People want democracy!”
Demonstrators also chanted, “The people want to topple the regime!”
“If the Americans say 'OK, stop' ... I'm sure the regime won't say no,” said Muneer Shehab, a 39-year-old activist.
The protesters in Bahrain are staging daily marches in an effort to end what they say are royal family's discriminatory policies and political persecution.
Protesters, inspired by revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, continued to keep vigil in hundreds of tents in the city's Pearl Square, demanding that Prime Minister Sheik Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa step down because of corruption and the deadly crackdown on the opposition in which seven people have so far been killed.
They have called for a constitutional monarchy and elected government in Bahrain -- which hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.
The Khalifa dynasty has ruled Bahrain for 200 years and the protesters camped out in the capital's Pearl Square are demanding that the al-Khalifa royal family step down altogether.
Washington has praised the king's efforts to defuse tensions and end a three-week showdown that has included a deadly crackdown. The U.S. also urged the Sunni dynasty to answer the aspirations of the Bahraini people.
The prime minister, who is also the king's uncle, has been in power for 40 years.
The country has been ruled by the al-Khalifa royal family for more than 200 years.
Bahraini prince’s warning
Bahrain's crown prince warned all sides against escalating a standoff and asked for patience ahead of a national dialogue.
Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, tapped to lead a dialogue with the opposition, said the protests would continue to be allowed but must remain peaceful, Reuters reported.
“These rallies must not infringe upon the freedoms of other people. This is a basic principle. I urge all parties not to escalate matters or to slide into sensationalism. Some people do want this to happen, so we have to be fully committed and to speak out bravely against it,” Sheikh Salman said.
“I hope that everyone will be brave, patient and optimistic and motivated to engage actively in the dialogue,” he told state television, according to a summary of the interview.
“No party should define the scope or purpose of the dialogue before we even start. It is important, very important, that we talk about these issues. We have no problem with talking about these issues and discussing them in depth,” he said.
“Around 70 to 80 per cent of the demands are shared by all the people. Everybody wants better services. Everybody wants dignity. Everybody wants to be heard. Everybody wants accountability,” he added.
Photo: Bahrain anti-government protesters outside the U.S. Embassy in Manama