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Bahrain Faces More Anti-Government Protests

VOA News February 25, 2011

Tens of thousands of protesters are converging on a central square in Bahrain to press their demands for the government's resignation and democratic reforms.

Opposition protesters chanted and waved the Bahraini flag on Friday as they gathered in Manama's Pearl Square, the epicenter of their anti-government movement.

The government has declared Friday a day of mourning for the seven people who died in protests in the past two weeks. The protests have been led by the country's Shi'ite majority, who are demanding reforms from the Sunni-led government.

Meanwhile, CNN says a Shi'ite opposition leader who ended his self-imposed London exile in an attempt to return to the country this week remained detained in Lebanon on Friday. The news organization quotes Haq opposition movement leader Hassan Meshaima as saying Lebanese officials have seized his passport. He says the authorities believe there is an international warrant for his arrest.

Earlier this week, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa pardoned Meshaima and about two dozen other Shi'ite activists in a gesture to opposition demonstrators. He also freed hundreds of prisoners. About two dozen Shi'ite activists had been on trial for allegedly plotting against the Gulf state's rulers.

In Washington, the White House released a statement Friday saying National Security Advisor Tom Donilon had spoken by phone to Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa. The statement says Donilon expressed support for the Bahraini government's efforts to open dialogue on political reforms.

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