Opposition leaders arrested in Bahrain as crackdown grows
Bahrain arrested six opposition leaders on Thursday, kept the main hospital surrounded by troops and tanks and imposed a nighttime curfew on the center of its capital as it moved to the next stage of its crackdown on reform-seeking protesters, sending the political opposition into crisis.
A day after troops drove demonstrators from the main square and destroyed a month-old tent city there, popular unrest had been reduced to a few minor skirmishes in villages known as opposition strongholds.
There was much defiant talk of keeping the struggle going, but also deep distress.
“We feel cornered and are trying to find our way out,” said Jalal Fairooz, a leader of the Wefaq opposition party in an interview at party headquarters.
A group of Bahraini human rights groups appealed to the United Nations for help. (New York Times)
Bahrain pulls a Qaddafi
It is heartbreaking to see a renegade country like Libya shoot pro-democracy protesters. But it’s even more wrenching to watch America’s ally, Bahrain, pull a Qaddafi and use American tanks, guns and tear gas as well as foreign mercenaries to crush a pro-democracy movement — as we stay mostly silent.
In Bahrain in recent weeks, I’ve seen corpses of protesters who were shot at close range, seen a teenage girl writhing in pain after being clubbed, seen ambulance workers beaten for trying to rescue protesters — and in the last few days it has gotten much worse. Saudi Arabia, in a slap at American efforts to defuse the crisis, dispatched troops to Bahrain to help crush the protesters. The result is five more deaths, by the count of The Associated Press.
One video from Bahrain appears to show security forces shooting an unarmed middle-aged man in the chest with a tear gas canister at a range of a few feet. The man collapses and struggles to get up. And then they shoot him with a canister in the head. Amazingly, he survived.
Today the United States is in a vise — caught between our allies and our values. And the problem with our pal Bahrain is not just that it is shooting protesters but also that it is something like an apartheid state. Sunni Muslims rule the country, and now they are systematically trying to crush an overwhelmingly Shiite protest movement. (Nicholas Kristof)
Brotherhood sticks to ban on Christians and women for presidency
A leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), Egypt’s largest opposition group, said on Monday that the MB’s new “Freedom and Justice Party” would continue to stick by its view that Christians and women are unsuitable for the presidency.
Saad al-Husseini, a member of MB’s Guidance Bureau, the highest executive authority within the group, said the new party program will be announced late March after it is approved by the MB’s Guidance Office and Shura Council. Al-Husseini said that although they stick by this view, they “respect all opinions”.
“Our adherence to the jurisprudential opinion refusing the appointment of women or Christians as president does not mean we impose this opinion on the people, who have inherent jurisdiction in this regard,” he said.
“I personally accept for Copts to be appointed in hundreds of positions, including sensitive leadership positions in the country in accordance with the criterion of efficiency and competence, regardless of their proportion in society.”
Meanwhile, MB spokesman Mohamed Morsi said the group is pushing for a civil state, without the tutelage of the clergy. Morsi said the group does not call for a religious state. (almasryalyoum)