The Quiet Crackdown

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Al Jazeera reports:

Bahrain has stepped up the arrests of Shia Muslims, including many cyber activists, with more than 300 detained and dozens missing since it launched a crackdown on pro-democracy protests, the opposition has said. Activists and politicians said on Thursday that a growing number of reform campaigners are going into hiding, after the country's most prominent blogger was arrested on Wednesday. "The situation is critical ... Almost all the bloggers and activists who aren't in jail are now in hiding," Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, said.

Justin Gengler, who runs a great blog on Bahrain, zooms out:

While the United States is busy providing air cover for government opponents in Libya, its friends in the Arab Gulf have nearly finished mopping the floor with theirs.

Backed by some 2,000 ground troops from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, along with a Kuwaiti naval detachment, the Bahraini government has all but stamped out the Shi‘a-led pro-democracy movement that had brought this small island nation to a standstill since mid-February. ...

While no one is likely soon to forget the patch of barren land that just two weeks ago was “Martyrs’ Square,” life in Bahrain is indeed slowly returning to normal. Curfews have been shortened. Roads have been reopened. First elementary and now middle school students have returned to classes. Malls, hit hard by the turmoil as has Bahrain’s entire economy, have been keen to bring back shoppers, advertising their hours on Twitter and Facebook. And, most telling of all, the thousands who gathered last Friday for the sermon of Bahrain’s highest Shi‘a religious authority, Sheikh ‘Isa Qasim, did not continue on to a customary post-prayer rally; they simply returned home.

(Hat tip: 3QD; Photo: Bahraini Shiites women attend the funeral of Bahiya al-Aradi, holding portraits of her, in central Manama on March 22, 2011. Aradi, 51, went missing on March 16 evening, and a car that she drove was found the day after in al-Qadam village, west of Manama, with bloodstains on the driver's seat. She was pronounced dead on March 21 after being shot in the head. By Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images)

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