Bahrain press hails new 'anti-terror' powers

AFP , Monday 29 Jul 2013

In parliament session Monday, Bahraini government agreed to hand authorities powers to revoke citizenship as penalty for 'terrorism'

Bahrain's pro-government press on Monday hailed tough new powers given to the authorities to address what they say is an upsurge in "terrorist" violence linked to Shia-led pro-democracy protests.

The loyalist-dominated parliament, which is boycotted by the Shia opposition, gave authorities powers to revoke the citizenship of anyone "recognised as guilty of committing or inciting an act of terrorism."

At an extraordinary session on Sunday requested by King Hamad in the midst of a parliamentary recess, MPs also recommended "a ban on gatherings and rallies" in the capital.

It called for emergency law to be declared in the Sunni-ruled Shia-majority Gulf kingdom if the need arose in the run-up for a major opposition demonstration called for mid-August.

MPs urged authorities to prosecute political groups that "incite and support acts of violence and terrorism," as well as those that use media social networks to "spread false information."

The Al-Ayam newspaper described the recommendations as "historic," and a reflection of a "national consensus to fight terrorism" in the kingdom.

The authorities say there have been a growing number of shootings and bombings targeting police stations and patrols in Shia villages outside the capital in recent months, which they blame on "terrorists."

But they have often used the term in the past to refer to Shia demonstrators who have kept up pro-democracy protests despite a 2011 crackdown backed by Saudi-led Gulf troops, sparking repeated clashes with security forces.

A car bomb exploded outside a Sunni mosque, close to the royal court in Rifaa, south of Manama, on 17 July without causing any casualties, officials said. There have since been three arrests.

In mid-February, a police officer was killed by a petrol bomb during clashes with protesters, after a teenager was shot dead during a demonstration marking the second anniversary of the launch of the protests.

At least 80 people have been killed in Bahrain since the protests erupted, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.

Strategically located across the Gulf from Shia Iran, Bahrain is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet and is an offshore financial and services centre for its oil-rich Gulf Arab neighbours.

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