The political upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt have now begun to have a serious impact on other parts of West Asia, including the Gulf, where Bahraini security forces for a second day in running battled protesters seeking political reform.
On Tuesday, thousands of protesters converged at the symbolic Pearl Roundabout, a famous monument representing the six Gulf countries: Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Protesters said they identified Pearl Roundabout as their version of Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the Egyptian uprising. People also crowded an overlooking flyover, about a half-hour drive from the Saudi Arabian border, while a helicopter circled overhead.
Earlier a clash on Tuesday with the police led to the death on account of a gunshot wound of a second protester. It occurred because police tried to stop people from taking out in procession the body of the first protester who had died of police gunfire on Monday. In Monday's clashes police fired rubber bullets, and extensively used teargas, its grey fumes clouding the area.
The tragedy on Tuesday made the Wefaq National Islamic Society, an organisation, which represents the country's majority Shia community, to suspend its membership of parliament. Despite Bahrain being overwhelmingly Shia, protesters who pledged a peaceful campaign said their activism was driven, not by sectarian but national concerns.
“We're not Sunni; We're not Shia; We just want to be free,” many at Pearl Roundabout chanted.
Opposition groups are demanding more political freedoms, as well as greater access to the levers of power, which is tightly controlled by the Sunni monarchy. The country's Shia community, mostly living in squalid conditions in narrow alleyed townships, claims that it has long been discriminated against.
Pushed on the defensive, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Issa Al Khaifa made a rare appearance on State television on Tuesday, where he offered condolences for the two deaths, and promised an investigation.