Shi’ite protestors in Bahrain are not just calling for an end to the dynasty that has ruled the country for over 200 years. They are also demanding an end to what they say is a system of apartheid, in which Shi’ites Muslims are actively discriminated against by the Sunni rulers. Shi’ites make up 70% of the population of Bahrain.
In the poorer neighbourhoods of Bahrain, where most Shi’ites live, it is the perceived discrimination that causes the most anger against the regime. They claim even foreigners are favoured over Shi’ites.
“They bring people in to work from abroad” say this Shi’ite resident. “They give them passports and housing and we are still in the same situation.”
As unrest spreads throughout the arab world, shi’ites in Bahrain are watching developments closely, hoping any new form of government will result in a more equal society.
Unemployed graduate Zina Mahmoud is a Shi’ite.
“It’s been six years since I graduated from education. How do you explain that I never found a job anywhere?”
It is the glitzy skyscrapers that Bahrain presents to the world, but they mask the undercurrent of a country ruled by an unelected dynasty, and built on a two-tier society.