Feb. 14 protests planned across the Middle East
Anti-government movements in Tunisia and Egypt have reverberated around the Middle East, giving opposition activists in the region a new spark of life. France24.com takes a look at some of the planned protests.
Shiite protesters in Bahrain are calling for protests against the government and King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa on Monday in capital Manama. A Facebook page marking February 14 as a day of revolt in Bahrain has drawn more than 12,000 fans.
Shiites are in the the majority in the oil-producing nation, but they have long complained of discrimination at the hands of the ruling family and the officials running the government, the majority of whom are Sunni. Last week, the king attempted to appease critics by issuing subsidies amounting to roughly 2,000 euros to all families in the country, and by promising greater freedom of the press.
Iranian authorities have refused to give permission to opposition leaders Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi permission to attend planned demonstrations.
FRANCE 24’s Delphine Minoui said it is difficult to predict how many people will have the courage to take to the streets to protest against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Authorities arrested several activists in the last few days in an effort to quell the anti-regime movement. But according to Minoui, the opposition has renewed motivation and aims to motivate participants today using the Egyptian pretext and in partiuclar the fall of Mubarak, which was hailed by the Iranian government.
Demonstrations in Yemen have mushroomed in the last few days, with police facing off this weekend against protesters -- many of them university students – calling for the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power for more than 30 years.
But the opposition has agreed to resume talks with the government and according to FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Sanaa, Charlotte Velut, only two small marches are planned for Monday – one pro-government and one anti. Still, the unrest is significant enough for the president to postpone his scheduled visit to the US later this month.
Opposition leaders in Algeria have announced plans for marches next weekend in Algiers, defying a longstanding ban on demonstrations in the capital. Like those in Tunisia and Egypt, Algerian protesters have made use of Facebook and text messages to organize their calls for a new regime.
FRANCE 24’s special correspondent in Algiers Tahar Hani likened the protests to “organised harassment to make [President Abdelaziz] Bouteflika leave”. According to Hani, even Bouteflika’s promise to lift the state of emergency that has been in force for the past 19 years will not be enough to calm the protesters’ anger.
In Iraq, young people have organised what they are calling “a peaceful and romantic” demonstration timed to Valentine’s Day on Monday. The last several weeks have seen several protests in the county, as activists have called for improvements and investments in infrastructure and economic reforms.