An aerial view of Saturday's rally by the Gathering of National Unity, calling for union with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Co-operation Council nations
1715 GMT: Clarifying our previous entry, Nabeel Rajab's lawyer Mohamad Al Jishi has been granted bail on the charge of inciting violence via Twitter, but the activist remains in detention on other charges. His next court hearing is on 30 May.
1200 GMT: The lawyer for human rights activist Nabeel Rajab sends the message, modifying earlier reports (see 1040 GMT), that his client is technically freed on bail on one charge, although he will not be able to leave Bahrain:
1040 GMT: Activists indicate human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been cleared in this morning's court hearing of the allegation that he used Twitter to promote riots and violence against policemen; however, he will remain in detention on other charge.
These days, when you meet a Shiite in Bahrain, for example, the venue will likely be a branch of a coffee franchise run by a prominent Shia businessman, Faisal Jawad. Meet a Sunni, and he will refuse to see you there.
Shiite customers frequent Mr Jawad's groceries and stores but, late last month, a security camera caught a group of young men joining members of the police, a traditionally Sunni-dominated institution, in trashing one of the outlets. Mr Jawad is not the only target: a group of Sunni youth have circulated a booklet listing shops owned by Shiites that they urge their supporters to boycott.
0835 GMT: The latest hearing in the case of human rights activist Nabeel Rajab, detained since 5 May, is this morning in Manama. Police have denied entry to Rajab's colleague at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Said Yousif:
#Bahrain The police officer prevents me from entering the court now as he claims orders are not to allow HR defenders to observethe trial— S.YousifAlmuhafda (@SAIDYOUSIF) May 20, 2012
0740 GMT: Claimed footage of police throwing tear gas into a house in Shahrakan and then raiding it on Saturday:
0650 GMT: Looks like the Bahraini monarchy has found a protest that it can endorse.
Yesterday's gathering by the Gathering of National Unity, a largely Sunni movement formed in early 2011 in response the demonstrations challenging the regime, has gotten a high-level Thank You. The Bahrain News Agency reports:
His Royal Highness Prime MinisterPrince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa sent a cable to the coalition of thenational political societies and participants in Al-Fateh gathering marking the organisation of “Our Gulf is One-Our People is One” gathering.
He congratulated them on the success of the event which embodied the noble sense of patriotism and belonging to the nation and the Gulf surrounding.
He also lauded strong patriotism displayed by the organisers andparticipants in the gathering which reflected aspiration for a brighter futurewhere the dream of everybody of a Gulf union comes true.
The tip-off for the regime's approval is in the final words of the Prime Minister's message: the rally's leading theme was exaltation of the union with the Gulf Co-operation Council nations, notably Saudi Arabia.
No one at the rally, nor the Prime Minister, seemed to notice that the Saudis had backed away from the proposal --- primarily because of nerves and opposition by other GCC states --- on Monday.
The regime's Saturday message is in sharp contrast to the one issued on Friday to a far larger protest --- estimates range from tens of thousands to the 300,000 claimed by the opposition society Al Wefaq --- challenging any union with Saudi Arabia:
Legal action is to be taken against protestors who committed violations during a licensed rally organized by Al-Wefaq Society.
“Around 15,000 people took part in the demonstration between Janusan and Al-Diraz roundabouts”, Northern Police director general announced. The organizing committee had been summoned to investigate the violations and refer perpetrators to the Public Prosecution. Al-Wefaq Society had signed an undertaking to assume legal responsibility in case of non-commitment as per the law on public meetings, rallies and demonstrations.