17 Jun '11, 1pm

AP: #Bahrain cleric raises fresh doubts about talks:

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) - Bahrain's top Shiite cleric denounced the Gulf kingdom's rulers for "damaging the country" and warned Friday that tension-easing dialogue cannot take place until authorities halt crackdowns used to crush protests demanding greater political rights. The sermon by Sheik Isa Qassim is the latest signal that Shiite leaders could snub appeals by Bahrain's Sunni rulers for talks next month with opposition figures and others who began pro-reform demonstrations in February and then faced a withering backlash from security forces. Shiites comprise about 70 percent of the population in the strategic nation, which is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. But Shiites claim widespread discrimination at the hands of the Western-backed Sunni monarchy. "The reactions of the security forces result in damaging the country, but the people are patient and peaceful," Sheik ...

Full article: http://www.todayonline.com/World/EDC110617-0001529/Bahrai...

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