Sunday 23 July 2017

Robert Fisk: Powerful industrial movement lies behind protests in Bahrain

A message written with stones and addressed to the king in Manama, Bahrain, yesterday
A message written with stones and addressed to the king in Manama, Bahrain, yesterday

Robert Fisk

Bahrain is not Egypt. Bahrain is not Tunisia. And Bahrain is not Libya or Algeria or Yemen. True, the tens of thousands gathering again yesterday at the Pearl roundabout -- most of them Shia but some of them Sunni Muslims -- dressed themselves in Bahraini flags, just as the Cairo millions wore Egyptian flags in Tahrir Square.

But this miniature sultanist kingdom is not yet experiencing a revolution. The uprising of the country's 70pc -- or is it 80pc? -- Shia population is more a civil rights movement than a mass of republican rebels, but Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa had better meet their demands if he doesn't want an insurrection.

Indeed, the calls for an end to the entire 200-year-old Khalifa family rule in Bahrain are growing way ahead of the original aims of this explosion of anger: an elected prime minister, a constitutional monarchy, an end to discrimination. The cries of disgust at the Khalifas are much louder, the slogans more incendiary; and the vast array of supposedly opposition personalities talking to the crown prince is far behind the mood of the crowds who were yesterday erecting makeshift homes in the centre of Manama.

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