JNN 09 Sep 2011 : The harsh crackdown on anti-government protests in Bahrain has failed to silence people’s demands for greater rights, a senior cleric in the Persian Gulf kingdom said Friday as thousands of opposition supporters rallied on the outskirts of the capital.
Bahrain’s senior cleric, Sheik Isa Qassim, said the “politics of fear” and the rulers’ refusal to reform has strengthened the resolve of protesters, the Associated Press reported.
The latest demonstration was staged by people who say they were unfairly fired from their jobs simply for being members of the island nation’s Shiite community, which led the months of protests.
Thousands of Shia professionals accused of having a role in the protests have been fired from their jobs.
Shia Muslims make up a majority of Bahrain’s people, but they have long complained of discrimination at the hands of the country’s ruling Al Khalifa dynasty and a lack of economic opportunities.
A police helicopter flew over the large demonstration, which was backed by Bahrain’s biggest opposition party, Al Wefaq. The crowd chanted slogans against Bahrain’s 200-year-old monarchy. Some protesters demanded their jobs back and others urged opposition leaders not to compromise with the monarchy.
“Our revolution will continue,” the protesters chanted. They warned the rulers: “If you don’t want to listen then you have to leave.”
“Those who refuse to reform and continue to ignore the people’s demands for rights should know that the masses will not submit to despots,” Sheik Isa Qassim said during Friday’s sermon in the opposition stronghold of Diraz, northwest of the capital, Manama.
Thousands of anti-government protesters have been staging demonstrations in Bahrain since mid-February, demanding political reforms and a constitutional monarchy — a demand that later changed to an outright call for the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family following its brutal crackdown on popular protests.
Scores of people have also been killed and many others have been injured in the Saudi-backed crackdown on peaceful protesters in Bahrain.