Bahrain promises media freedoms amid protest calls

February 13, 2011 12:01


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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Leaders in Bahrain promised to expand media freedoms in the tiny Gulf kingdom in apparent attempts to quell calls for protests inspired by Egypt.

The pledges Sunday to loosen state media controls come after Bahrain's king announced gifts of nearly $2,700 to each family in Bahrain — a key Western ally and home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.

Opposition groups were calling for street protests Monday to demand a greater voice in state affairs. It would mark the first major demonstrations in the Gulf since the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

Bahrain's majority Shi'ite's have long complained of discrimination by the Sunni rulers. Clashes erupted last year after the arrest of Shi'ite activists.

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