Pearl MonumentProtesters gathered at Bahrain’s Pearl Monument in February.Photo: Mahmoud Al-YousifThe Bahraini government is apparently hoping that by destroying the monument that gave the Pearl Roundabout its “placeness,” it will diffuse the energy of protesters who have been gathering there since Feb. 14. Some have died there.

From CNN:

Security forces in Bahrain on Friday demolished the Pearl Monument, a landmark that had been the site of massive recent anti-government protests.

Friday evening, pieces of the modern white structure lay like a pile of bones in the center of the Pearl Roundabout, according to pictures broadcast on Bahrain state television.

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The government explained the demolition by saying that it was “out of the government’s keenness to optimize services and improve the infrastructure” and that it would “boost flow of traffic in this vital area of the capital,” according to the state-run Bahrain News Agency.

Ah yes, of course. It was all about the traffic patterns.

The most recent crackdown on anti-government protesters in Bahrain has drawn international condemnation today.

The destruction of a monument that was erected and promoted by the government is a symbolic action that seems slightly desperate. It’s as if, by destroying an architectural feature, they think they’ll be able to destroy a movement.

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I wrote some weeks ago about the importance of a city’s public spaces to revolutionary movements. The Pearl Monument incorporated emblems of local culture: the curving arcs echoed the lines of the dhows that have sailed along the coast here for centuries, the pearl at the top represented the source of the area’s wealth for generations, before the discovery of oil.

The Pearl Monument appears on the nation’s 500-fils coin. No word yet on the fate of that currency.

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