Two protesters died in clashes with Bahraini police, sparking angry calls from young cyber-activists for regime change and a walkout yesterday of Bahrain’s main Shiite opposition bloc in parliament.
The Islamic National Accord Association, which has 18 seats in the 40-member house, has “suspended its membership” in the Sunni-run kingdom’s parliament, Member of Parliament (MP) Khalil al-Marzooq said.
The decision was taken because of “the deterioration in security and the negative and brutal way in which [the authorities] dealt with the [Shiite] protesters, killing two of them,” he said by telephone.
Fadel Salman Matrouk was shot dead in front of a hospital yesterday where mourners gathered for the funeral of Ali Msheymah, who died of his wounds after police dispersed a protest in a village east of Manama on Monday, he said.
Marzooq said both men were “martyrs.”
The interior ministry said “some of the people participating in the funeral on Tuesday clashed with forces from a security patrol,” leading to Matrouk’s death.
An investigation was underway.
It also announced the death of a protester late on Monday “due to his wounds” and opened an inquiry into whether police resorted to “unjustified use of arms” in dispersing the demonstration in Diya village.
News of the two deaths prompted activists, who posted pictures of both men on a Facebook page, to call for a huge turnout at their funerals.
Thousands took part in Msheymah’s funeral in Diya, some chanting that “the people want to oust the regime,” the slogan used in Egypt where mass protests forced former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s ouster on Friday.
The Facebook page that called for a pro-reform uprising, inspired by the protests that ousted the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, has attracted more than 22,000 “likes.”
Yesterday, activists in the kingdom run by the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty stepped up their demands.
“Before Feb. 14, we were calling for reforms, but after the fall of martyrs we are calling for the ouster of the regime,” their Internet message read.
Tech-savvy Bahrainis have been using the Internet to issue social demands for the government to create jobs for a growing number of unemployed young people and to increase wages.
“Bahrainis are not less courageous than other people,” said Marzooq, who accused security forces of “deliberately” killing the two protesters.
The head of Egypt’s ruling military council issued a decree yesterday ordering a constitutional amendment committee to finish its work within 10 days, the state news agency reported.
Mohamed Hussein Tantawi also confirmed retired judge Tareq al-Bishry as head of the committee tasked with proposing constitutional amendments. The plan is to put these to a referendum.
The military council said yesterday it hoped to hand power over to an elected civilian leadership within six months and insisted it had no desire to keep control following the overthrow of Mubarak.
The remarks carried on the state agency were the clearest indication since Mubarak was forced to leave Cairo on Friday last week that the military high command had a concrete timeframe for meeting the demand of pro-democracy protesters for a complete new beginning.
Some secular leaders have raised concerns, however, that having presidential and parliamentary elections so quickly in a country where Mubarak had suppressed all opposition activity for 30 years may hand an advantage to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement seen as the best organized political force.