Anger, grief and hatred as Mideast turmoil mounts


CAIRO – The Middle East boiled with anger as protesters trying to topple more of the region’s rulers staged fresh mass demonstrations after Friday prayers and buried the victims of crackdowns by embattled regimes. A week on from the overthrow of Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak, hundreds of thousands flooded Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square to celebrate his departure.
But elsewhere in the Middle East, a sense of anger, grief and hatred pervaded at the end of a week which has seen unprecedented challenges to some of the world’s longest-serving rulers, including Libya’s Moamer Qaddafi. According to a leading rights watchdog, security forces killed at least 24 people during assaults by the security services on protesters in two Libyan cities on Thursday.
The worst violence hit Al-Baida where hospital staff put a call out for additional supplies to treat 70 injured protesters, said Human Rights Watch. One injured protester told HRW that security forces used live ammunition to deter protesters, killing 16. A local medical source told AFP that 14 people were killed in clashes between security forces and protesters in Libya’s second city Benghazi.
After some of the biggest protests of his 41-year rule, Libya’s Revolutionary Committees, a pillar of Qaddafi’s regime, threatened a “violent” response to those pushing for change. “The response of the people and the Revolutionary Forces to any adventure by these small groups will be sharp and violent,” the Committees said on the website of their newspaper.
Funerals were held across the region after a series of bloody crackdowns. In Bahrain, thousands chanted slogans calling for the fall of the al-Khalifa dynasty at funerals for four people who were killed in Thursday’s pre-dawn storming of Pearl Square, the epicentre of protests on the Gulf island state.
A banner carried at one of the funerals condemned concerns by Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone that next month’s Bahrain Grand Prix could be affected. “Mr Ecclestone, are our lives a price for your Formula One?” it asked. Police were not visible at the funerals but army tanks and troops kept tight control on the streets of Manama.
There were similar scenes in Yemen after three people were killed in Aden during clashes between police and opponents of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in office for 32 years.