Bahraini Rulers Attempt to Destroy Pro-Democracy Movement

Increasing attacks on Shia mosques in the Bahraini state's withering crackdown against the pro-democracy movement is a deliberate attempt to isolate the political opposition and amounts to a campaign of sectarian cleansing, say human rights groups. Over the past four weeks, since the Saudi-led Gulf Peninsula Shield military intervention in Bahrain, there appears to be a concerted drive by pro-state Sunni forces to target repression at the Shia population, and in particular Shia mosques and other religious sites, such as cemeteries and meeting places known as Mattams. Some mosques have been vandalized, with their doors, windows and the PA systems used in the call to payer having been smashed. More recently, other mosques, such as the 800-year-old Al Shaboor, near the capital, Manama, have in the past week been razed to the ground with bulldozers. A similar fate was met by five mosques in Hamad, about 15km south of Manama. The pro-democracy uprising that began on February 14 rocked the US-backed Sunni rulers for almost a month before the other Gulf states sent in heavily armed contingencies to quell the protests. But the nature of the military intervention has evidently gone beyond its initial avowed remit of restoring security and stability. Over 34 unarmed civilians have been killed, two-thirds of whom since since the Saudi-led forces arrived.

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