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Bahrain army demolishes monument at Pearl Square

MANAMA, Bahrain — Bahrain on Friday tore down the 300-foot monument at the heart of a square purged of Shiite protesters this week, erasing a symbol of an uprising that's inflaming sectarian tensions across the region.

The monument — six white curved beams topped with a huge concrete pearl — was built in Pearl Square as a tribute to the Sunni-ruled kingdom's history as a pearl-diving center. It became the backdrop to the Shiite majority's uprising in the capital, Manama.

Security forces overran the camp on Wednesday, setting off clashes that killed at least five people, including two police officers. At least 12 people have been killed in the monthlong revolt.

Bahrain's foreign minister, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, told reporters in Manama that the army brought down the monument because "it was a bad memory."

Shiite anger rose sharply around the Mideast on Friday as large crowds in Iran and Iraq cursed Bahrain's Sunni monarchy and its Saudi backers over the violent crackdown on protesters demanding more rights.

Amateur video of security forces shooting and beating protesters has spread across the Internet and fueled fury in predominantly Shiite Iraq and in Iran.

Voting in Egypt

Egyptians get their first taste of a free vote in decades when a package of constitutional amendments sponsored by the ruling military goes to a vote today. The referendum is the first major test of the country's transition to democracy after a popular uprising overthrew President Hosni Mubarak. The amendments drawn up by military-appointed legal scholars are intended to bring just enough change to the current constitution — which the military suspended after coming to power — to ensure that presidential and parliamentary elections are fair. A "yes" vote would allow elections to be held before the end of the year.

Bahrain army demolishes monument at Pearl Square 03/18/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 18, 2011 9:45pm]
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