MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Riot police in Bahrain stormed an exhibition Wednesday dedicated to the Arab Spring-inspired uprising in the violence-wracked Gulf nation where crackdowns have strained ties between the ruling dynasty and their allies in Washington and elsewhere in the West.
The raid came two days after the opening of the museum-style hall, which included scenes depicting Bahrain's 32-month unrest, such as protesters killed in clashes, alleged torture inside prisons and demonstrators running from tear gas. Organizers said the life-size panels and collections such as personal items were based on well-known sites including Israel's Holocaust museum Yad Vashem.
A statement from Bahrain Interior Ministry said the exhibition included "incitement material" and legal action could be taken against the sponsors of the event, which was set to close Saturday. This could open up new rifts in the small but strategic nation since the exhibition was in a building operated by Bahrain's main opposition group Al Wefaq and the exhibition was opened by its leader, Ali Salman.
"The theme of the museum irritated authorities as it documents many incident since the uprising in 2011 until now," said Al Wefaq's lawyer, Abdullah al-Shamlawi.
More than 65 people have been killed in violence since Bahrain's Shiite majority launched protests in February 2011 for a greater political voice in the Sunni-ruled kingdom. Some rights groups place the death toll higher.
Bahrain's ongoing tensions have tested the relations between the monarchy and Western nations, particularly the U.S.
Washington remains a backer of Bahrain's leadership, which hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. But the tough measures against protesters and widespread arrests have raised concern in Washington and were noted by U.S. President Barack Obama in his annual U.N. address in late September. Some pro-government factions in Bahrain have denounced the U.S. as an untrustworthy ally.
On Monday, police said the explosion of a homemade bomb injured "a number" of police officers, but gave no further details. Meanwhile, international rights groups have called on Bahrain to drop prosecution against a prominent Al Wefaq figure, Khalil al-Marzooq, who faces charges including allegedly encouraging violence. He denies the claims.