Thursday, April 05, 2012

Sectarianism in Bahrain

"In social media, Shi'ites and protesters are attacked as "monkeys", "traitors" and "followers of Iran", picking up a frequent charge that politicized Shi'ites are pawns of the Islamic Republic, a large non-Arab, Shi'ite Gulf neighbor.  In the northern, mainly Sunni, district of Muharraq, al Qaeda slogans are among the graffiti on some walls and a large poster outside a Sunni Islamist party's headquarters depicts a donkey with the caption: "I'm going to dialogue!"  Hardcore Sunnis are alarmed by talks that the powerful royal court minister has held in recent weeks with the leading Shi'ite party Wefaq and secular opposition groups on a possible dialogue to halt turmoil that has deterred investors and slowed economic growth to 2.2 percent last year from 4.5 percent in 2010.  "The worst thing is happening now in Bahrain, that the state is flirting with the followers of the Safavids," wrote Sunni Islamist Mohammed Khalid on Twitter, using the name of a 16th century Persian dynasty to refer to Iran and Shi'ites. "The Sunnis are on the point of exploding."  Host to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, Bahrain has remained turbulent in the year since the authorities quelled Shi'ite-led protests that erupted after popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. Daily street protests and clashes have caused continuing casualties."