x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Bahrain to crack down on 'terrorism' ahead of protests

Politicians agree on moves including stripping those who commit 'terrorism crimes' of their nationality and preventing protests from taking place in Manama.

MANAMA // Bahrain has ordered tougher penalties for what it called terrorist acts yesterday ahead of planned anti-government protests next month.

Bahrain's politicians agreed at an extraordinary session on Sunday to proposals including stripping those who commit or call for 'terrorism crimes' of their nationality and preventing any protests from taking place in the capital, Manama, the state news agency BNA said.

King Hamad ordered authorities to put the recommendations into effect as soon as possible "through the available constitutional and legal channels", BNA said.

The gathering yesterday appeared prompted by opposition calls for major protests on August 14. Anti-government violence has also mounted in recent weeks, including bombings against police and near the royal palaces.

Khalil Al Marzouq, an official with the largest opposition group, Wefaq, said the lawmakers' recommendations were "outside the constitutional framework".

Bahrain's majority Shiites have led an uprising for a greater political voice in 2011. But violence has flared in recent months, leading analysts to fear an escalation of insecurity and sectarian tensions.

Officials say more than 60 people have died in the unrest, but activists place the figure above 100.

* Reuters and the Associated Press