On Friday June 6, thousands of Bahrainis gathered on the outskirts of the capital Manama in what was expected to be another huge protest against ongoing government repression. But as the marchers assembled, they began to split into two groups, each trying to pull confused latecomers over to their side.
There were in fact two marches that day. One, which headed west, was sanctioned by the government as an official protest organized by the al-Wefaq political party, while the other, which headed east towards Pearl Square, was illegal and arranged by the loosely organized, more radical February 14.
The former was made up predominantly of middle-aged men and women chanting for political reforms, while the latter were largely young men, many with their faces covered, confronting security forces and calling for the downfall of the ruling al-Khalifa family.
Alaa Shehabi, a rights leader in Bahrain, said the protest was a major moment for the Bahraini opposition. “It was the first time the February 14 Coalition, on the back of al-Wefaq protests, managed not just to mobilize but really to sabotage it and take it in the other direction.” ...