Bahrain Police Attack on Woman Stirs Anger

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011/2013.

As Bahrain was pretending to be secure enough to hold a regional sports event, its security men were attacking a woman protester in the middle of Manama, the capital. Last July, Zahra Al-Shaikh was released from prison after being detained and tortured. She stated, in an interview with Bahraini journalist in exile Lamees Dhaif, that the police wanted to force her to work for them. This time, Zahra was arrested in a protest during the football tournament for Gulf countries, which was won by the UAE team. News, pictures, and videos of her arrest were circulated online on the day of the final game, on January 18.

Mohammed, a Bahraini Twitter user, tweeted what he witnessed:

@ba7rainiDXB: A woman is being beaten right in the middle of the capital #Manama by #Bahrain gov merc[enarie]s. Youth and men confronting them.

Online, many refer to the Bahrain police forces as mercenaries – in reference to the foreign security forces and riot police from other countries brought in to crush the unrest in the country.

Later on, the video of her arrest was posted showing a big number of riot police men surrounding her and dragging her as she screams and cries bleeding from her mouth (video posted by Duraz14):

Another video from a different angle tried to show how police men stripped her off her hijab. Men around were trying to stop the riot police. At the end of the video, a man confronts the police about the Hijab and the police man replies that it was her fault (posted by Mr14change)

Many pictures of Zahra were posted on Twitter but within hours, users deleted her pictures – which showed her without the hijab, out of respect. Instead, pictures with her hair blackened out were posted:

“@SafaMohammed: woman being arrested in #Manama #bahrain her head cover was taken off and her mouth bleeding!!”

On Twitter, Zahra's sister tweeted her news:

تم توقيف #زهرة_الشيخ وستعرض غدا على النيابة بعد إتهامها باﻹعتداء على رجال أمن وقذف رموزهم والخروج في مسيرة غير مرخصة

@ZAlshaikh_BH: Zahra AlShaikh was arrested and will see the public prosecution tomorrow facing charges of attacking police men and insulting their symbols and protesting illegally.

AlShaikh was not the only woman arrested. The names of other women arrested were later posted online [ar]:

النساء المعتقلات: #حليمة_الصباغ #زهرة_الشيخ، #حرائر_السيتي: زينب دهيم. خديجة عبد الناصر. فاطمة الجشي.عقيلة المقابي. فاطمة عبدالجليل

@iProtestor: Women arrested are Halima AlSabagh, Zahra AlShaikh, Zainab Dhaim, Khadija Abdulnasser, Fatma Aljishi, Aqila AlMiqabi, and Fatma Abduljalil.

Poet Aayat Alqormozi, who was previously arrested for reciting an anti-government poem at a protest, tweeted:

اعتقال #زهرة_الشيخ بتلك الوحشية أوجع قلوبنا .. مؤلم أن تكون في بلد يتبجح بحقوق المرأة وفي الوقت ذاته يطأ كرامتها برجله #Bahrain

@AayatAlqormozi: The arrest of Zahra Al Shaikh in such a brutal manner breaks the heart. It us painful to live in a country which shows off about women's rights when at the same time it crushes the dignity of women

In reaction, protesters in Nuwaidrat village threw molotov cocktails and blocked the road against riot police to protest the arrest and attack on AlShaikh (video posted by Nuwaidrat Feb):

This post is part of our special coverage of Bahrain Protests 2011/2013.

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