Chanad covers this issue very well. All I have to say is that the new demonstration-regulating bill is wrong wrong wrong, and must be stopped. Not only that, it won't work either. The prisons will just simply swell again, like in the 1990s, and will lead to more (and less peaceful ways of) protesting and rioting.
One thing I'm wondering about is how will the law work if, let's say, Bahrain qualifies to the World Cup. Bahraini people, like many other Middle Eastern countries (particularly Iran), have a habit of going out in "joyful" car demonstrations for the any reasons whatsoever, particularly after winning football matches. The reason could be anything: losing one's shoe, having a good if6ar, or just for the heck of it. The streets become clogged with cars honking and making shows (skidding around), as well as bystanders gathering around. Everyone takes part or looks on: young men and women, kids, shop-workers, even housewives come out to watch. This happened when the meethaq came out, when Bahrain beat Iran in football, or when the referendum on the meethaq happened.
Now this new bill states that any public gathering where someone can attend without being invited must be approved by the government and is subject to strict regulation. The above "joyful" demonstrations do qualify as this. Furthermore, it forbids the use of cars in demonstrations. The above is mainly a car show. The bill also restricts the "demonstrations" to certain areas. What if I, a M7arrigi, want to throw an egg at joyful Riffa fans right in their headquarters?
Does this mean that the Bahraini team manager and three other players must submit an application for the demonstration three days before a match? What if we're playing Saudi Arabia or Iran? It would be arrogant and pretty presumptious of the players to think they'll beat them three days before the game.
This takes me back to the early nineties when Muharraq once one the (then) Amir cup. As usual, a big car rally and gathering was held around the Casino garden. There were women, men, and kids (including myself) attending. Suddenly, the police showed up and started firing tear gas. Admittedly, the car stunts were pretty crazy, but how does firing tear gas help in that? Wouldn't it increase the risk of accidents? Doesn't it mainly affect the helpless bystanders, which included kids (and me!)? Why weren't tear gases fired at Riffa rallies when they win something (which is very rare and usually by cheating or bribing)?
On a lighter note, if I was policeman, and a sadistic bastard, I could have some serious fun with this law. Imagine West Riffa winning something pretty worthless like the federation cup, and their fans holding a rally. I would show up in Land Cruiser, speeding at 150 kph, siren blazing off, and non-chalantly get out of the car. I'd walk in that usual police condescending manner, while chewing on a gum, spit the gum in front of a couple of Riffa fans (hopefully rich kids), step on it, and say in a thick m7arrigi accent, "re7t we6y yakhook."
I'd book him under the new demonstration-regulating bill and send him packing to Jadda Island prison for a couple of years, plus a fine.
Anyway, this is a serious issue; I shouldn't be making fun of it.