Clashes in Sitra on Thursday night
See also Bahrain Propaganda 101: New York City Judge "Educates Local Cops" br>
Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Deaths at the University br>
Thursday's Bahrain Live Coverage: The Regime Loses A Friend in US Congress
1600 GMT: Many thousands marching today in a call for significant reforms:
1442 GMT: Today's march, protesting the illusion of Constitutional amendments as "reform", on the Budaiya Highway:
Chants of "Down, down Hamad":
0953 GMT: The opposition society Al Wefaq highlights the Friday Prayer of Sheikh Isa Qassim, the leading Shia cleric:
Sh.Qassim: plotting aginst thr ppl of #Bahrain and neglecting its will has forced the ppl to revolt.— AlwefaqEN (@AlWefaqEN) May 4, 2012
Sh.Qassim: the constitution is rejected because it doesnt represent the ppl'S will. #Bahrain— AlwefaqEN (@AlWefaqEN) May 4, 2012
Sh.Qassim: ppl of #Bahrain believe that reforms r essential. The only way out of this crisis is by a political solution.— AlwefaqEN (@AlWefaqEN) May 4, 2012
Opposition members yesterday said they do not accept the Constitutional amendments approved by the government.
The approved amendments are not real reforms, they are just an attempt to ‘show’ the people and the world that the government is ‘trying’ to do something, said ex Al Wefaq MP Dr Abdali Mohammed Hassan.
“This is not what the opposition has been demanding and we do not accept this,” he stressed. The reforms are just an eyewash and would not make any difference, he said citing the example of the decision to make Parliament Chairman Khalifa Al Dhahrani head of the National Assembly instead of the Shura Chairman Ali Saleh Al Saleh. He said: “It was obviously not going to make any difference.”
“Our demand is an elected Parliament – society should elect its representative through fair mandate and they should have a say to revise, question and amend any clause of the Constitution,” noted Dr Hassan.
0720 GMT: The US non-governmental organisation Freedeom House confirms that representatives of NGOs and journalists were denied entry into Bahrain this week, despite earlier permission for a visit from the Ministry of Human Rights and Social Development.
The delegation was affiliated with the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) and included representatives from Freedom House, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Index on Censorship, PEN International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Reporters Without Borders as well as freelance journalist Clare Morgana Gillis.
The Ministry, in reversing its decision, said new “guidelines” prevent more than one organisation per week from visiting Bahrain. The denial came less than a week before the group was due to arrive, forcing the cancellation of the mission.
Freedom House was also denied entry to Bahrain in January just days before a scheduled visit, despite having been granted visas.
0610 GMT: Over the past two days, King Hamad has tried to display his authority over a Bahrain progressing towards stability. He pronounced on Wednesday, for International Press Freedom Day, the virtues of a domestic media "conslidating the values of freedom, democracy and human rights and supporting reform plans and comprehensive susainable development", while castigating foreign journalists --- who could operate freely and independently --- for misrepresenting the situation.
Yesterday the King went on television to proclaim that Constitutional changes adopted by the Parliament marked "sweeping and broad" reform, which he had previously announced would bring a political resolution to Bahrain's tensions The measures allowing for more Parliamentary say in Ministerial appointments and confidence in the Cabinet had met the challenge of last November's Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.
Both declarations, perhaps predictably, drew a mixed response. The King's assurance of press freedom drew scepticism amidst the regime's detention, harassment, and exclusion of journalists --- more on that in a weekend analysis --- while the opposition quickly portrayed the Constitutional amendments as far too limited to have a signifcat effect.
The protests --- both in large, organised rallies and in the daily marches in the villages which bring the response from the security forces --- are likely to continue. I suspect that these will soon overtake the King today.