Bahrain opposition concerned about outcome of National Dialogue

Arab World Materials 24 July 2011 00:23 (UTC +04:00)

Bahrain liberal opposition groups on Saturday expressed doubt that the month-long National Dialogue set to end on Sunday would resolve the crisis in the small Gulf island, dpa reported.

The warning by liberal opposition came as leading Shiite Islamic figures warned against targeting their places of worship.

The three groups, Pan-Arab grouping, Waad, communist, Democratic Progressive Tribune known as al-Minbar, and the Baathists, National Democratic Assembly, said the talks were no more than an "ice-breaker" for the country's tensions.

"We had our reservations from the start about the mechanisms of the dialogue," Waad's Radhi al-Mousawi said at a joint press conference at al-Minbar headquarters in Isa Town south of Manama.

"We (opposition) found ourselves accounting for no more than 10 per cent at best at any given session of the dialogue. There was to start the dialogue," he added.

According to al-Minbar secretary-general, Hasan Madan, the majority of the proposals put forward by the opposition had been classified as ones which have failed to gain consensus.

Bahrain monarch Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa had called for the dialogue - which began earlier in July - as a way out of the current political crisis that has swept the Gulf island since the pro-reform protests began on February 14th.

The talks were described as a venue where all political powers can come to the table and present their suggestions to resolve the crisis. The suggestions are expected to be presented to the king's review next Thursday.

The concerns by liberals came as leading Shiite figures warned in a seminar that attracted thousands against further attacks against their places of worship places, which became the targets early on in the crack-down under the pretext of failing to obtain proper permits.

Sheikh Isa Qassim, one of the top Shiite clergymen in the country, said that there were clear indications of targeting Shiite places of worship.

Qassim demanded that repairs be carried out on those places that had been demolished or damaged, and that those sites that had been confiscated be returned.

The demolitions of mosques and Shiite religious community centers, which the authorities said was carried out in line with the law, attracted heavy international criticism from close government allies, including the US.

More than 30 people have been killed during government crackdowns on protesters, four of whom died in policy custody. Four policemen were also killed.