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July 22, 2006



I watched the demonstration, and subsequent asskicking, at Al-Azhar yesterday from the upper levels of a shop in the Khan il-Khalili.

I agree with your friend on the difference of the tenor of the demonstrations.

The sheer volume of army officers in riot gear and the free floating thugs brought traffic to a near stand-still, with troop carriers lining the right side of the road.

The melee was pretty straightforward, and the government pretty successfully clamped down on any possible steam that the populace might want to blow off.


Here in Bahrain there have been lots of demonstrations -- at least 6 in the past week I think. Lots of Hezbollah flags and Bahrain flags... a few Palestinian flags, but hardly any Lebanese flags. Lots of photos of Hasan Nasrallah, and a few of the late Shaikh Ahmed Yassin. Lots of chants of "labbaik ya nasrallah" and "labbaik ya muqawama".

Obviously the dynamics here are a bit different from the rest of the Arab world due to the large Shia population. Nonetheless, the demonstrations in Bahrain are similar to those elsewhere in that they are being used a vehicle to express anger against the ruling regimes. Angry participants at the demonstrations and on online forums frequently refer to the Al Khalifa ruling family as "Zionists" (al khalifa, ya sahyon); though this insult has been commonly used prior to the Lebanese conflict also.

The Leftists and Baathists (and even a few Sunni Islamists) have tried to also show their support and co-sponsored one of the first demonstrations, and other activities supporting Lebanon. But the Shia Islamists, by virtue of the sheer numbers of their supporters have totally dominated the scene.

So the first 4 or 5 demonstrations went ahead without much govt interference. There was a huge one on Wednesday with several thousand people participating. Some photos here:

But yesterday a few hundred protestors wanted to march to the US Embassy, but the govt wouldn't allow it, so it got nasty, as tear gas and rubber bullets were fired resulting in several injuries. Some photos here:

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