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Bahrain 1st-Hand: Friday's "Festival of Loyalty" Opposition Rally

An EA correspondent reports from Bahrain:

The weekly opposition gatherings have resumed after stopping for one week due to the death of Ali Hassan Aldaihi, the elderly man who allegedly died after a police beating last week. Friday's gathering was hosted by five opposition parties --- Alwefaq, Waad, Alekha, Amal, and Altajamoa --- in the village of Ain-Athari and labelled as a festival of "loyalty to the martyrs, wounded, detained, and dismissed".

The festival, attended by 35,000 to 40,000 people, was distinctive from previous rallies for two reasons. The introductory speech was not given by a politician but by a journalist, Batool Alsayed, and another address cited the the human rights violations of the regime.

After a reading of verses from the Qur'an and the playing of revolutionary anthems by a national band, Alsayed declared to the crowd:

We are obtaining our strength from yours, and from you we draw our steadfastness. We are not here to feel sorry for what you have been through or to feel sorry for a regime that tried to break you but failed. If they killed our joy, we succeeded in turning the tears to a candle that lights the dark. If they behead us, we will be honored by martyrdom, and if they fire us, we will be honoured to sacrifice. We will never bow to injustice.

Alsayed concluded, "Let's breath the Arab Spring breeze. We are part of it, whether they like it or not."

Sayed Hadi Almosawi of Al Wefaq then took the podium to praise youth, the elderly, children, women, and parents, "Each has to pay a price for dignity and justice. The price for democracy is high. Therefore, you gave and are still giving a martyr after martyr, until we reached 45 martyrs who gave their life for democracy and freedom."

After a special salute to "free women, who have proven their presence in all the arenas and the marches", Sayed Hadi presented Government violations from the destruction of mosques to abuse in prisons to unfair court judgements, including life sentences, "because they can not respect your rights of peaceful protesting....This is how the regime has lost its senses and turned the world against it."

Hesham Alsabagh of Amal concluded the speeches by declaring, "Martyrs (Pearl) Roundabout is the spot where we breathed freedom and dignity....The loyalty to the martyrs is to fulfill the goals for which they have sacrificed."

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