Bahrain Probes Death at Protest Site

Posted April 21st, 2012 at 7:55 am (UTC-5)
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Opposition groups in Bahrain are accusing security forces of killing a protester during a violent scuffle.

The groups, including the country's largest Shi'ite party, al-Wefaq, said the body of the man was found Saturday. Al-Wefaq identified him as Salah Abbas Habib.

Bahrain's interior ministry confirmed the body of a man was found in an area west of the capital of Manama, where clashes had taken place Friday. It said an investigation was underway.

Thousands of protesters rallied across Bahrain Friday, trying to use the country's Formula One auto race to draw international attention to their plight. Activists and witnesses say security forces used tear gas and rubber bullets in an effort to disperse the crowds.

Anti-government groups led by the country's Shi'ite majority have called for “days of rage,” coinciding with the three days of race action at the circuit in Sakhir, south of the capital Manama.

Protesters are asking for, are calling for, an elected government based on parliamentary results, having fair and equal districts. They want to make sure there is no discrimination in the country and we have equal opportunity for all.

Last year's Bahrain Grand Prix was postponed and later canceled because of demonstrations.

The Force India Grand Prix team pulled out of Friday's practice session citing security concerns. Two members of the Indian team left Bahrain after firebombs landed near the team's race car on Wednesday.

Some Bahrainis talking to Western media Friday said they were growing weary of the protests, questioning if they could make any difference. Businessman Razan Abdulaal was one of them.

“I believe a protest is inherent right, we all have the right to protest right, but I don't know if you are referring to protesters or rioters because there is a very big difference.”

Abdullah al-Zayed also supported the demonstrators right to protest but said the protests themselves might be doing more harm than good.

“I will not bring the country to a standstill and promote my demands in these three days, go out in tens of thousands and shutdown Manama's market because there are tourists coming. Why? Go on and close down Manama's market but it doesn't have to be during these three days.''

Bahrain's crown prince Salman bin Hamad bin al-Khalifa said on Friday rejected calls to cancel this year's race, saying that that would only empower “extremists.”

The ruling family is eager to host this year's Grand Prix as way to illustrate to portray stability in the strategic kingdom, which is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.