Bahrein clashes after protest deaths

 Khalifa bin Abdallah al-Khalifa

Lt. General Khalifa bin Abdallah al-Khalifa, Minister of Interior

The demonstrations in Bahrain on February 15, a public holiday marking the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, drew thousands of people who followed the body of the protester slain on Monday, Ali Mushaima, from a hospital morgue to his home outside Manama to be prepared for burial.

Mourners chanted slogans demanding the ouster of the ruling elite, echoing calls in Tunisia and Egypt.

The police first sought to block the funeral, firing tear gas at the crowd. In the skirmishing that followed, the second protester was shot dead.

The bloodshed prompted the Wefaq National Islamic Society, the largest Shiite opposition bloc in Parliament, to announce to mourners that it was suspending its membership. But it did not rule out a return.

“This is the first step; we want to see dialogue,” Ibrahim Mattar, a Shiite member of Parliament, told Reuters. “In the coming days, we are either going to resign from the council or continue.”

News reports said the second protester to die was Fadhel Salman Matrook. According to the police, mourners and police officers clashed when a police vehicle broke down and three others carried officers to its rescue. He was wounded and died later in the hospital, Reuters reported.

Many of the clashes Monday and Tuesday were in small Shiite villages on the outskirts of Manama, the capital, places with narrow streets and alleyways. Shiites say they face systemic discrimination in employment, housing, education and government. Young people said they mostly wanted jobs and a chance at a better life.

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