13 Feb 2011

Bahrain promises media freedoms amid protest calls

Bahrain's leaders promised Sunday to expand media freedoms in another apparent attempt to quell plans for the first major anti-government protests in the Gulf since the uprising in Egypt.

The tiny kingdom of Bahrain is among the most politically volatile in the Gulf and holds important strategic value for the West as the home as the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. Bahrain's majority Shiites have long complained of discrimination by the ruling Sunni dynasty, whose crackdown on dissent last year touched off riots and clashes.
Shiite-led opposition groups and others have joined calls for demonstrations on Monday - the anniversary of Bahrain's 2002 constitution that brought some pro-democracy reforms such as an elected parliament.

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