Hundreds of thousands protest for democracy in Bahrain
Published Friday, March 9, 2012
See how the events unfolded by reading our live blog of the day.
At least a 100,000 Bahrainis took to the streets of the capital Manama on Friday demanding democratic reforms from the government.
Event leaders estimated the figure at over 250,000 people, but wire agencies and some activists put the figure closer to 100,000.
Following the main protest, a few hundred activists attempted to force their way to the Pearl Roundabout – the center of pro-democracy protests last year until they were crushed by Bahraini and Saudi troops – but were prevented from doing so by security forces who fired tear gas.
There were no reports of major clashes but activists said that a number of people had been treated after inhaling gas fumes.
Bahrain's most senior Shia cleric Isa Qassim attended the march and walked with the people, the first time he has done so. However, Qassim declined to give a speech to the crowds.
Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said it was unlikely the march would change government policy but would raise the profile of the struggle.
"I don't think a protest will change the Bahrain government. But at least the King said we [the opposition] are only a few people so we have shown him this is not true."
"The gap is becoming deeper between the government and the people. I don't see any sign that the government is going to have a dialogue."
Online hacking collective Anonymous offered their support to the protests and threatened to hack into Bahraini government servers if the demands of the protesters were not met.
The international media largely ignored the protests, with a number of Western media failing to cover the events altogether.