First Published: 2003-01-03

Bahrainis protest against US war plans on Iraq

Second consecutive Friday several hundred Bahrainis demonstrate against US threats to strike Iraq.


Middle East Online

...your people are shouting against the Americans, chanted protesters

MANAMA - Hundreds of Bahrainis took to the streets for the second consecutive week on Friday to protest at US war plans against Iraq and show solidarity with both the Iraqi and Palestinian peoples.

"Listen, listen Abu Salman (Bahrain's King Hamad), your people are shouting against the Americans," chanted the protesters, who included members of parliament, liberal political and human rights activists, and Arab residents of the Gulf archipelago.

"No to war," said banners raised by the demonstrators, who marched after leaving a mosque where they attended weekly Muslim prayers.

"The American is to blame, it's the oil he is after," "no bases, no assistance to a US attack on Iraq, no stockpiling of US equipment," the protesters chanted.

"Iraq will be but the first step in a scheme ushering in US occupation of the whole Gulf region and control of its resources ... through the overthrow of some regimes," Hassan al-Aali, who heads a non-governmental organization of solidarity with the Iraqi people, told the marchers.

His group called for Friday's protest in conjunction with a Bahraini association which lobbies against any normalization of ties with Israel.

The march ended with the signing of a petition to the US ambassador "rejecting" US war threats against Iraq.

It was the second Friday in a row that Bahrainis staged a street protest to denounce US threats to attack Iraq on grounds that it is pursuing weapons of mass destruction.

Several hundred Bahrainis demonstrated after the previous Friday's prayers in Muharraq, some 10 kilometers (six miles) north of Manama.

Aali said last week that his group also planned a demonstration on January 18 to coincide with anti-war protests in the United States.

The Bahraini government chided protesters who burnt the US flag during a November 29 pro-Palestinian demonstration in the mainly Shiite Muslim town of Diraz east of Manama.

Bahrain, a major non-NATO ally of Washington, is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet and thousands of US military personnel.

In March last year, Bahrainis staged a series of demonstrations against Israel and Washington's support for the Jewish state after Israeli forces launched a large-scale military offensive in the occupied West Bank.

On April 5, 2002, a man died and more than 100 people were injured during a demonstration in which some 20,000 mostly Bahraini protesters took part and during which stones and petrol bombs were lobbed at the US embassy in Manama.


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