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Rallies in Middle East support Bahraini protesters

ralliesPeople in Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia have strongly condemned the Saudi-led invasion of Bahrain and the increased crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Thousands of supporters of Lebanon’s Amal movement and Hezbollah gathered on Wednesday outside the UN offices in central Beirut in a show of solidarity with anti-government protesters in Bahrain, Shiite News reported.

They voiced their opposition against Saudi Arabia’s military interference in the Persian Gulf country. They also called for an end to Bahrain’s brutal crackdown on its own people in the capital of Manama with the help of Saudi and UAE forces.

Many Lebanese officials and political representatives participated in the protest.

In Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who rarely intervenes publicly in politics, called on Manama to stop suppressing unarmed civilians. Ayatollah Sistani stressed the need for solving problems through peaceful methods.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, too, criticized the foreign military intervention in Bahrain, while followers of influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr took to the streets of Baghdad to condemn the massacre in the tiny Persian Gulf island kingdom.

The intervention by Bahrain’s neighbors “will contribute toward complicating the situation in the region, in a way that instead of solving it could lead to inflaming sectarian tension,” Maliki’s office quoted the prime minister as saying.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people in Saudi Arabia’s eastern cities of Qatif and Sbehat staged street rallies to condemn their government’s deployment of troops to Bahrain.

Leading Saudi Shia cleric Sheikh Hassan al-Saffar voiced “dismay over events in Bahrain — bloodshed, violation of sanctities and the intimidation of the people.”

“I appeal to (Persian Gulf Arab) leaders … to act and call for an end to the bloodshed and violence in Bahrain and to make every effort to address the current crisis towards a dialogue and a political solution,” Saffar said in a statement.

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