The unrest roiling the Middle East has now spread to the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain.
Police fired teargas and rubber bullets at anti-government demonstrators who are demanding political reforms and the establishment of a new constitutional monarchy in the capital city of Manama. At least one protester was killed (allegedly from bullet wounds in his back) during a so-called “Day of Rage” rally.
According to the state news agency, at least three police and one protester were injured in clashes on Sunday in the capital of Manama.
Other towns and village throughout the small country reported bloody clashes.
We call on all Bahraini people -- men, women, boys and girls -- to share in our rallies in a peaceful and civilized way to guarantee a stable and promising future for ourselves and our children, activists said in a statement on Twitter.
We would like to stress that February 14 is only the beginning. The road may be long and the rallies may continue for days and weeks, but if a people one day chooses life, then destiny will respond.
Organizers of the protest want a new constitution to be drawn up by a committee comprising both Sunnis and Shi'ites, they want an elected prime minister, the release of all political prisoners, and an investigation of torture allegations.
[This protest] is shocking, it shouldn't have happened. Maybe the police presence should stay high so this doesn't escalate, said Nada Haffadh, member of the Shura council, the upper chamber of Bahrain's parliament.
Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid al Khalifa said peaceful protests were acceptable, but lawbreakers would be prosecuted.
Bahrain is used to having protests...but we need to make sure this is done with law and order—there should be no violence, he said.
Recently, the king of the country, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa offered more than $2,500 to Bahraini families ahead of the protests. The king is part of a Sunni Muslim family who rules over a Shi’ite majority(who have long complained of discrimination).
Bahrain is a key strategic ally of the U.S. as it hosts the headquarters of the Navy's Fifth Fleet.
Bahrain, which is not a member of OPEC and not as cash-flush as some of its neighbors, has said it will spend $417 million on social needs, including food subsidies.
The country lacks significant oil wealth, but it boasts a flourishing banking sector.