As “Day of Anger” approaches, social unrest and rebellion increases

Posted: March 10, 2011 in Government, Middle East
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Bahrain prepares for march, sectarian clash erupts


By Frederik Richter and Lin Noueihed Frederik Richter And Lin Noueihed 43 mins ago

MANAMA (Reuters) – Sectarian clashes erupted at a school in Bahrain Thursday, fuelling fears a planned march on the royal court Friday could inflame the Gulf island where a majority of citizens is Shi’ite but the ruling family is Sunni.

Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has been gripped by the worst unrest since the 1990s since protesters took to the streets last month, inspired by uprisings that unseated entrenched rulers in Egypt and Tunisia.

Moderate opposition leaders urged hardliners to cancel Friday’s march, warning it could spark serious clashes between Shi’ites protesting against the government and Sunnis who support it.

Witnesses said fighting broke out at a school in the town of Sar, an area where both Shi’ites and Sunni live, when some Shi’ite pupils launched anti-government protests Thursday.

They said parents from naturalized families — Sunnis mainly from Syria and Pakistan who hold Bahraini passports — came to the school. Shi’ite parents later arrived and clashes erupted.

Shi’ites say they are excluded from jobs in the security forces and view Bahrain’s practice of settling Sunni foreigners serving in police as an attempt by its Sunni rulers to change the sectarian balance, an accusation the government denies.

“During the break we went on a peaceful protest, we gathered, a few girls. Next thing we know a group of naturalized people were let into school and the school door was locked, they had iron and wooden sticks and knives,” said one student.

It was not clear whether there were any injuries but one witness said he saw an ambulance driving away one girl.

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