A small group of women in black abayas, chanting timidly and holding Bahraini flags, stood still against the tear gas and rubber bullets hurled at them by Bahraini police on a street corner in Diraz, Bahrain, on February 14, 2011.

This was the scene throughout Bahrain, a tiny island-nation in the Persian Gulf, during their first day of organized protests inspired by successes in Egypt and Tunisia. Their demands were for an end to the discrimination in employment, housing, education and government.

The main tension is between the royal family under King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and the ruling elites, mostly Sunnis, and the approximately 70 percent of the local population that is Shiite.

The conflict between protesters and the Bahraini forces spiraled causing many protester deaths until Saudi Arabia sent in 1,200 troops, crushing the uprising with widespread arrests and force.

Since then, sectarian tension has exploded, economic problems have increased and the U.S. willingness to look the other way is seen as hypercritical.

[February 2011]

Bahrain Protests