Authorities have ordered the release on bail of Shia blogger Zainab al-Khawaja, who was arrested on 15 December on charges of taking part in illegal assemblies and assaulting a female police officer.

Al-Khawaja’s dramatic arrest, where a police officer was seen punching her in the chest as she lay on the ground, was distributed on US-based video sharing website Youtube.

Sporadic protests continue in the country and the government is responding firmly. On 22 December, riot police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of Shia demonstrators in Manama.

According to the state news agency, the government is to reinstate 180 civil servants who were dismissed from their posts during the protests. It is believed that more than 2,500 Bahrainis lost their jobs on suspicion of supporting the opposition and participating in the demonstrations. The government, however, puts the number of people who were dismissed at 1,623.