BEIRUT

Middle East

Thousands of Shiites protest in Bahrain

  • Thousands of Bahraini anti-government protesters march down a four-lane divided highway outside the capital of Manama, Bahrain, on Friday, August 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

  • Women protesters holding posters of Nabeel Rajab and Ibrahim Sharif demand for their release during an anti-government march organised by al-Wefaq opposition party in Budaiya, west of Manama, Bahrain August 31, 2012. (REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed)

DUBAI: Thousands of protesters from Shiite opposition groups marched in Bahrain on Friday to demand the release of jailed activists, witnesses told AFP.

The march held under the slogan "Freedom and Democracy" was organised after a two-month break in demonstrations in the tiny Gulf monarchy ruled by a Sunni minority. It was held near a motorway connecting Shiite villages with Manama.

Protesters, including women, waved Bahraini flags and pictures of jailed activists from Shiite opposition groups, the witnesses said.

They carried portraits of Nabil Rajab, a human rights activist sentenced to three years in prison for participating in illegal demonstrations, and placards reading "Free Nabil Rajab."

"We do not forget the prisoners!" the demonstrators chanted.

Friday's rally follows a two-month ban imposed by the interior ministry to "restore order" after complaints of damage at venues of demonstrations, according to officials.

Shiite-majority Bahrain, which is ruled by a Sunni dynasty, has come under strong criticism from international rights groups over a bloody crackdown on protests last year inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings.

 
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