Bahrain's youth movement not to join march
Manama, March 10, 2011
Bahrain's youth movement said it will not join a planned march on Friday on the palace of Bahrain's king and called on hardline dissidents to stop inflaming sectarian tensions.
Bahrain has seen weeks of protests and thousands of the nascent Feb 14 youth movement are still occupying Manama's Pearl Roundabout and have launched almost daily marches.
The Feb. 14 youth movement said in a statement it called on Wefaq group and prominent Shi'ite cleric Sheikh Issa Qassem to stop hardline dissidents Hassan Mushaimaa and Abdelwahab Hussein from calling on protesters in Pearl Square to join the march.
The youth movement said the march would 'ignite sectarianism and lead to innocent victims amongst the frontline and the people.'
However, another faction later said the march would go ahead.
No more than a few hundred are expected to join the march, but politicians and activists on all sides expect Sunni civilians to come out to block their advance.
Seven opposition groups including Wefaq have also said they oppose the march.
"Tomorrow will be a tough day," said a political source, who declined to give his name. "If they make the journey they will be met by plainclothes people and not security forces... These protesters are trying to derail the political process because in an election they could not win a seat if they tried."
Protests in Bahrain have been peaceful since the initial clashes during which seven protesters were killed by security forces.
Sunni and Shi'ite opposition groups have set up a mechanism to jointly defuse tensions should further violence erupt in mixed areas where both Sunnis and Shi'ites live.
Various opposition groups are trying to influence the youth movement that itself appears to be divided. 'It's difficult to say who is the youth movement. They sent out this statement but then you might see another group saying on the internet 'We are continuing with our plans'' said Ibrahim Mattar, a politician from Wefaq.
Sheikh Mohammed Habib Muqdad, a Shi'ite cleric seen as close to Mushaimaa, also called on protesters to cancel the march on the palace due to fears of heightened sectarian tensions, according to Al-Wasat newspaper. - Reuters
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