Bahrain protesters join anti-government march in Manama
9 March 2012
Tens of thousands of people have joined an anti-government march just outside the Bahraini capital, Manama.
Video posted online showed protesters with Bahraini flags in a line stretching back hundreds of metres.
The security forces fired tear gas at a small group of protesters, but the rally was mostly peaceful.
Activists had called for the biggest rally since the Bahraini authorities quelled a popular protest with help from Saudi troops more than a year ago.
Next month, the Bahraini Grand Prix is due to be held in what the authorities are trying to promote as a return to normality in the country.
'Biggest rally'
Protesters carried banners denouncing the government and calling for the release of political detainees. They chanted "Down, down Hamad", referring to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
Many women were among the thousands who attended the march
Sheikh Isa Qassim, a leading Shia cleric, made a speech at the start of the march in the village of Diraz before joining in.
Reports say the march stretched for more than 1.5km (a mile). Opposition leaders estimated the crowd at nearly 100,000, which would make it one of the largest protest gatherings since the street rallies erupted in February 2011.
Police used tear gas to drive back a small group of demonstrators who attempted to approach Pearl Square, which was the heart of the 2011 protests before it was stormed by security forces in March 2011.
Bahrain's majority Shia community has long complained of deep discrimination. They make up about 70% of the country's 525,000 citizens.
Protesters, most of them Shia, are seeking the end of the rule of the Al Khalifas, a Sunni dynasty that controls politics and all the main posts in Bahrain.
The government has offered some political concessions, but insists on controlling all the main appointments and ministries.
Bahrain is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet and it is a significant oil and gas producer.
At least 50 people, including five police officers, have been killed, and hundreds arrested since the unrest began in February of last year.
The government commissioned a report into the political unrest by the Egyptian human rights expert, Cherif Bassiouni. He concluded that security personnel had used excessive force and that there had been systematic torture of detainees.
The government has claimed that Iran is behind the unrest in Bahrain, but has offered no proof of this. The claim was rejected by the Bassiouni report.
Top Stories
Philip's four children to walk alongside coffin
The names of the 30 guests who will be at Saturday's funeral service are released by Buckingham Palace.
1 hour ago
Chicago releases video of police shooting teenager
10 minutes ago
'We have won the war, America has lost'
1 day ago
'We have won the war, America has lost'
‘A Covid tsunami we had never seen before’
Why are so many babies dying of Covid-19 in Brazil?
Senegal: The HIV success story that’s failing gay men
Why Putin may not be planning the invasion Ukraine fears
A woman’s quest to find her biological father
Is Alibaba's fate a warning to China’s tech giants?
BBC Travel: The noodle taking the world by storm
How can you mistake a gun for a Taser?
Elsewhere on the BBC
Football phrases
15 sayings from around the world
Most Read
Philip's four children to walk alongside coffin1
Chicago releases video of police shooting teenager2
'We have won the war, America has lost'3
Politician seen naked in work Zoom call4
Why are so many babies dying of Covid-19 in Brazil?5
Why Australia is in hysterics over 'navy twerking'6
France urges citizens to leave Pakistan
Who is going to Prince Philip's funeral?
Moulin Rouge! star quits over Rudin allegations9
Why Putin may not be planning the invasion Ukraine fears10
BBC News Services
On your mobile
On smart speakers
Get news alerts
Contact BBC News
Terms of Use
About the BBC
Privacy Policy
Accessibility Help
Parental Guidance
Contact the BBC
Get Personalised Newsletters
Why you can trust the BBC
Advertise with us
AdChoices / Do Not Sell My Info
© 2021 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read about our approach to external linking.
BBC HomepageSkip to contentAccessibility HelpSign inHomeNewsSportReelWorklifeTravelFutureCultureMenuSearchHomeNewsSportReelWorklifeTravelFutureCultureMusicTVWeatherSounds
MenuHomePrince PhilipCoronavirusVideoWorldUS & CanadaUKBusinessTechScienceStoriesMoreEntertainment & ArtsHealthIn PicturesReality CheckWorld News TVNewsbeatLong ReadsWorldAfricaAsiaAustraliaEuropeLatin AmericaMiddle East