Protesters block Manama highway as eerie calm engulfs Bahrain

March 14, 2011

Manama was eerily quiet on Monday morning with the main sea-front highway closed by protesters who poured sand and placed bricks and dead trees to block traffic.

After a day of violent clashes both in the capital and at the University of Bahrain, about 40 kilometres to the south, a strange atmosphere enveloped the country at a time when it was scheduled to be bustling with the vivacity associated with Formula One races.

The F1 race has been postponed, maybe cancelled, and instead of the roaring cars, people had to do with unprecedented clashes that scared the nation and deepened the sectarian divide between its citizens.

Figures about the wounded, as usual, depended on who gave them. Just like the account of what really happened. Aside from the harmonious and peaceful co-existence between the various sects in Bahrain, truth has inexorably become a troubling casualty of the dramatic events unfolding in the country.

University shut

The University of Bahrain remained shut to avoid further standoffs while many people, both Bahrainis and foreigners, refused to report to work to avoid getting caught in unfathomable events.

The Adhari Highway, another barometer of the bustling traffic into and out of the capital, was almost empty and the few cars using it were seen speeding as if keen on spending as little time on it as possible.

Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, vested by King Hamad to conduct a national dialogue between all parties, on Sunday reiterated the significance and purpose of sitting together to address all matters and open the door for constitutional, political, economic and social issues to be scrutinised in deep insight.

“We have voiced our approval of all the principles which have been tabled for the national dialogue,” Prince Salman said. “These include an elected parliament with full vested powers and prerogatives, a government reflecting the will of people, fairly-demarcated electoral constituencies, naturalisation, combating financial and administrative corruption, state properties and addressing sectarian polarisation and animosities, in addition to other principles and topics,” he said.

Martial law

Al Asala became the first society to call for the imposition of the martial law in Bahrain, saying that the move was needed for the sake of peace and security.

Earlier, the Bloc of the Independents, an alliance of 12 lawmakers in the 40-seat lower chamber, urged King Hamad to declare the martial law in order to preserve peace, security and stability.

The British embassy advised its nationals in Bahrain to remain at home until further notice.

The embassy attributed its advise to the “increase in protests over recent days, confrontations between protestors and police on Sunday, reports of protestors establishing roadblocks, and reports that the Saudi National Guard will enter Bahrain.”

However, the embassy said that “the airport remains open and transiting through the airport is unaffected by this advice”.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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