Pearl Monument, Rally Point for Bahrain Protesters, Torn Down

Mar 21, 2011, 08:39 by David Hope

Bahrain's Pearl Monument, which featured six white swords topped by a huge pearl that symbolized Bahrain as the Pearl of the Persian Gulf -- has been torn down. The Dubai newspaper said the monument had lost its marketing significance after the Bahrain Financial Harbor and the World Trade Center were built. But the roundabout had become the rallying point for protesters.

Bahrain officials have called for all state employees to return to work Sunday, a sign the country is trying to move beyond the violent protests of recent days.

While the public workers, including teachers and school administrative staff, are to be back on the job, the country's 150,000 students will not return to class until Bahrain's Education Ministry gives the OK, Gulf News reported Saturday.

Classes were suspended following confrontations between students in some high schools and the University of Bahrain that broke down along sectarian lines.

Another sign of easing of tensions was the decision by Bahrain's military to reduce the evening curfew to 8 hours along the main highway in the capital, Manama.

The U.S. State Department said Friday the arrest of several political opposition leaders in Bahrain was "deeply troubling," CNN reported.

"We are particularly concerned about the arrest of Ibrahim Sharif, a prominent leader of Wa'ad -- a large, registered, legitimate political society recognized by the government of Bahrain, as well as the reported detention of Dr. Ali al-Ekri, a senior physician at Bahrain's largest public hospital, Salmaniya Medical Center," the statement said.

The United States urged an end to the violence against protesters and assure the safety of any detainees.

Amnesty International also called for the eight detainees' immediate release.

Source: UPI