The Bahrain government banned all protests on Tuesday, threatening legal action against any groups that initiate demonstrations. The Interior Ministry announced this emergency rule [AP report] to stop the persistent anti-government protests [JURIST news archive]. This represents the broadest order [Al Jazeera report] since martial law was enacted during the uprising last year. This order will most sharply effect the country's Shia Muslim majority who seek a more significant role in the government. Although Shia Muslims make up approximately 70 percent of the country's population, they claim to be denied political and security positions. The Interior Minister explained that this rule was a response to repeated abuse of the freedom of speech in Bahrain. This new rule could complicate Bahrain's relationship with the US and other western allies.
Bahrain has faced international criticism for its crackdown against dissidents since anti-government protests began last year. Last week, a Bahrain appeals court upheld [JURIST report] verdicts against two teachers for organizing a teachers' strike early last year to support anti-government protests. At their first hearing in front of a military tribunal, the pair were convicted of using their positions as vice-president and president of the Bahrain Teachers' Association (BTA) to attempt to overthrow the Bahraini government through a teachers' strike that halted the educational process and "incited hatred" against the regime. Last week Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Bahrain's court of appeals to overturn [JURIST report] the conviction of human right advocate Nabeel Rajab [JURIST news archive].