The Middle East in metamorphosis
The revolutionary spark that was ignited in Tunisia this January when a young man set himself on fire after the police forbid him from selling produce has spread like a wildfire. From Tunis, Tunisia, to Cairo, Egypt, to Sana’a, Yemen, and now to Manama, Bahrain, the wave of revolutionary activity is continuing to sweep nations into its undertow, washing presidents out of office as it goes. Since it began the tide of protests for more democratic freedoms have changed the governments of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and is now in the most violent stages of revising the leadership of Bahrain.
In Bahrain, the 70% majority Shiite population feels marginalized by the minority Sunni Muslims, who share the Sunni sect with King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. Protesters are attempting to recreate the success that was experienced in Egypt, where after its “Day of Departure” on February 4th, saw Egyptian President Mubarak fall after 18 days of protesting throughout the country, centering in Tahrir Square. In Bahrain’s Pearl Square, however, things seem to be going more violently.
Protests have been banned in the city and the army has taken control. Unlike in Egypt, the military has decided to fight against the protesters and the results have been deadly. As of February 17, protests in Pearl Square took a turn for the worse as the army encircled the protesters and advanced on them with tear gas, rubber bullets and birdshot. At least three people were killed and 231 wounded.
The protesters are calling for more equality between the Sunnis and Shiites and for an overhaul of the monarchic system to democracy. At the beginning of the protests the common cry was for a constitutional monarchy, but following the brutality of the army as ordered by leaders of the system, the protesters have adopted slogans pushing for complete restructuring of the government.
Information for this article came from the BBC.