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Clash of coverage: An analysis of the cultural framing components of U.S. newspaper reporting on the 2011 protests in Bahrain
Unformatted Document Text:  Clash of Coverage 4 Background on Bahrain The small archipelago nation of Bahrain gained its independence from Britain in 1971. The nation remains under the control of the al-Khalifa monarchy, which first came to power after defeating the Persians in 1783 (CIA, 2011). The current monarch, King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, has ruled since 1999. While the governing elite are Sunni, between 400,000 and 500,000 of Bahrain’s population is Shiite, which represents between 65 and 75 percent of Bahrain’s entire populace. This statistic makes Bahrain one of four countries in the world to have majority-Shia populations (Pew, 2009). The minority rule has undergirded some of the current protests, with Freedom House (2010a) reporting that “fear of growing Shiite political power has increased tensions between the Shiites and the ruling Sunni minority over the last few years, sparking periodic government crackdowns.” The Bahrain government has introduced periodic economic and political reforms since King Hamad’s ascension to the throne in an attempt to improve harmony between it and the Shia population. However, tensions increased in 2009 after the arrests of leaders of the Shiite political party Haq. The government also ordered the blocking of certain websites and closed a newspaper (Freedom House, 2010a). Later, Shia political parties participated in legislative elections in 2010, and one of those parties, Al Wifaq, won the largest number seats (CIA, 2011). The arrests of human rights activists, bloggers, members of the political opposition, and religious minorities accompanied those elections.

Authors: Hoewe, Jennifer. and Bowe, Brian J..
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Clash of Coverage
Background on Bahrain
The small archipelago nation of Bahrain gained its independence from Britain in 
1971. The nation remains under the control of the al-Khalifa monarchy, which first came 
to power after defeating the Persians in 1783 (CIA, 2011). The current monarch, King 
Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, has ruled since 1999.
While the governing elite are Sunni, between 400,000 and 500,000 of Bahrain’s 
population is Shiite, which represents between 65 and 75 percent of Bahrain’s entire 
populace. This statistic makes Bahrain one of four countries in the world to have 
majority-Shia populations (Pew, 2009). The minority rule has undergirded some of the 
current protests, with Freedom House (2010a) reporting that “fear of growing Shiite 
political power has increased tensions between the Shiites and the ruling Sunni minority 
over the last few years, sparking periodic government crackdowns.”
The Bahrain government has introduced periodic economic and political reforms 
since King Hamad’s ascension to the throne in an attempt to improve harmony between 
it and the Shia population. However, tensions increased in 2009 after the arrests of 
leaders of the Shiite political party Haq. The government also ordered the blocking of 
certain websites and closed a newspaper (Freedom House, 2010a). Later, Shia political 
parties participated in legislative elections in 2010, and one of those parties, Al Wifaq, 
won the largest number seats (CIA, 2011). The arrests of human rights activists, 
bloggers, members of the political opposition, and religious minorities accompanied 
those elections.

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