MANAMA, Bahrain-- Police fired tear gas to disperse thousands of Shi'ite Muslims demonstrating in Bahrain yesterday, but the angry crowd broke through the police blockade and continued its march to protest fighting between US forces and Iraqis in the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf.
Thousands of demonstrators dressed in white shrouds -- a symbol of their readiness to die -- also filled the streets in Lebanon, while about 200 people gathered outside the British Embassy in Iran to protest the actions of the US-led coalition in Iraq.
Bahrain's king, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, sacked his interior minister and replaced him with a member of the royal family after the police attacked on the demonstrators, Reuters reported, quoting official state media.
Shi'ite Muslim communities in Lebanon, Iran, and Bahrain have been outraged by continued fighting in Karbala and Najaf, which are home to shrines that are among the most sacred in Shia Islam. In Bahrain, where Shi'ites are a slight majority, more than 4,000 protesters, mostly men, chanted "Death to America!" as they marched in the capital of Manama. One group carried a banner reading: "Our shrines are our lives. Leave them alone!"
The nearly 2-mile march had been approved by security authorities, but police tried to stop the demonstrators halfway through. When the crowd became unruly, police fired tear gas, but many protesters continued the march anyway. Some turned over an empty police car and set it on fire. At least five people were treated for tear gas inhalation, ambulance workers said. It was not clear why police tried to prevent the march from continuing.