Bahrain. The year was marked by escalated contradictions between the Sunni Muslim clan ruling the country and the Shiite opposition, which represents a large portion of the country’s Shiite Muslim population. In the months before the October 23 parliamentary elections, about twenty Shi’ite Muslim activists were arrested, many of them members of the Haq Movement for Freedom and Democracy, who believe the Shiites are being discriminated against. The arrested were charged with terrorist activities, treason and plans for a coup d’etat. In the election, with a supplementary election round on October 30, the Shi’a-based movement al-Wifaq took home 18 out of 40 seats, which was more than before.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Bahrain has a population of 1.569 million (2018). The Qatar-based TV channel al-Jazira’s broadcasts in Bahrain was halted in May after several programs addressing the widespread poverty in Bahrain and the difficult situation of the guest workers.