Q Why is it said that Bahrain is the most modern countries in the Persian Gulf?
A small kingdom in the Persian Gulf, the archipelago of Bahrain is primarily based in one main island with a total area compares to the islands of Montreal and Laval met. The total population is 1,234,600 people, an increase of 90% compared to 2001! Expatriates, whether rich or poor western financial Asian workers, are now more numerous than Bahrainis. Shiites form the majority of the population. "This is a peaceful and friendly people," says Julie Jodoin, a Quebecer who moved there last summer with his family. The kingdom has a reputation of being the most modern countries in the Gulf. "A very open country where one has the right to drink alcohol. Women do not need to be veiled. The Saudis came to spend the weekends because the lifestyle is more free. There is a respect for other cultures. "
Q Who runs the country?
A Sunni Khalifa dynasty reign since 1783, well before the country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1971. It is now a constitutional monarchy led by King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, 61. The king's uncle was prime minister since independence. The elected Parliament was reinstated in 2001 after 25 years of interruption. The Shiite opposition has held since last fall 18 of the 40 seats in the Lower House and calling for new constitutional reforms.
Q Who are the protesters?
A Mostly Shiite Muslims who call for "the principle of peaceful transfer of power." Yesterday, the Bahraini foreign minister justified the police action by the need to prevent a "sectarian conflict and economic crisis."
Q What happened yesterday?
R After three days of protests, the authorities undertook to drive the opponents of the Place de la Perle. The news released yesterday showed the violence of the response. According to the reporter from the Associated Press, an ambulance was beaten by the police because he wanted to go up the Pearl to rescue hundreds of injured. "I had to turn around, we were threatened and accused of sympathizing with the demonstrators," he said. The emergency room of the main city hospital was filled with protesters of head injuries, broken limbs, welts. "We have never been so angry," said Makki Abu Taki, whose son Mahmoud was killed yesterday, "We take to the streets in even greater numbers to pay homage to our martyrs. Khalifa of the time is over. "
Q How has the international community reacted?
A The Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait) said his "total support for Bahrain." "Our security is a collective responsibility and it is not about to accept foreign interference," he said. "Foreigners" were however unanimous in denouncing violence against demonstrators worn. "We urge the government to exercise restraint so that it meets its promise to hold accountable those who used excessive force against peaceful demonstrators", said the United States, to which Bahrain is of strategic importance. The Fifth Fleet is based there to monitor the maritime routes used by tankers to support operations in Afghanistan and to counter any Iranian threat.
Q season Formula 1 race to begin March 13 in Bahrain. The holding of the race is in danger?
A "Next week we will take a decision and we decide what we do," said Bernie Ecclestone yesterday, bagman of F1, the British agency Press Association. "We'll keep an eye on the situation and make a decision quickly."
Location: composed of 35 islands, the archipelago of Bahrain is located in west-central Gulf, east coast of Saudi Arabia.
Area: 741 km2
Population: 1.234 million inhabitants including 54% foreigners, mostly Asians.
Capital: Manama (290 000).
Languages: Arabic (official) and English.
Religion: indigenous population is made up of 40% of Sunnis and Shiites 60% (unofficial estimates). It is the only Gulf Arab country where Shiites are the majority.