Anti-Government Protests Swell In Bahrain

In Bahrain, protesters are encamped in a traffic circle in the capital, vowing not to leave until the government meets their demands.

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

And Melissa Block.

Bahrain, Yemen, Libya - those are some of the countries we're going to hear about as we begin this hour of our program. There have been loud and violent protests in those countries, while other Arab states may seem quiet, but carry the potential for unrest.

First, to Bahrain. On the third day of protests there, demonstrators remained in their tent-filled square in the capital, Manama. And others buried a protester who was killed by police yesterday.

NPR's Peter Kenyon sent this update from Bahrain.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

PETER KENYON: For some Bahrainis, the day began with the sound of sandals shuffling along pavement as they took another long walk to deliver the body of a young protester to another cemetery. The mourners were overwhelmingly Shiite and so was the much larger crowd that swelled at a central roundabout in the capital, the area they seem determined to turn into Bahrain's version of Tahrir Square.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING)

KENYON: Riot police remained on standby a few blocks away, but showed no sign of moving in. The demonstrators showed no sign of leaving. A parade of speakers urged solidarity and called on the country's Shiites and Sunnis to come together in a nationalist reform movement. So far, the Sunnis have stayed away.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

Unidentified Woman: (Speaking foreign language)

KENYON: The mother of one of the dead protesters delivered an impassioned plea to the crowd to stand its ground and make sure her son's death would have an impact. His father said, simply: My son is your son.

Parliament leaders told reporters they're committed to a peaceful resolution of the situation and stood ready to pursue the king's directive to craft legislation to meet the protesters' demands.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

KENYON: But there was no sign the government was prepared to convert the absolute monarchy into a constitutional one, as protest organizers have demanded.

And for the first time today, pockets of pro-government supporters appeared on the streets, leading some to wonder if this largely peaceful protest can remain that way.

Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Bahrain.

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