Thousands march in Bahrain protest rally

Thousands of anti-government protesters in Bahrain have filled a main highway in the country

An unidentified man jogs past the entry to the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, on Thursday, June 2, 2011. Formula One's governing body will decide Friday whether to reschedule the Bahrain Grand Prix for later this season, with some drivers and team officials saying the race should be scrapped. Bahrain organizers insist they are ready to host the race, which was meant to open the season but was postponed following anti-government protests in February that eventually left at least 30 dead following a brutal crackdown. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Thousands of anti-government protesters in Bahrain have filled a main highway in the country's first state-approved march in weeks.

The rally outside the capital Manama included chants and placards calling for the release of a prominent human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab, who is appealing a three-year sentence for allegedly encouraging violence.

Associated Press journalists said the line of protesters stretched for at least three kilometers (two miles). Friday's march was the first government-approved protest event since a temporary ban was imposed earlier this summer.

Other marches have been held on without government approval, often resulting in clashes with security. Bahrain has been hit by nearly nonstop unrest since February 2011 when majority Shiites began demonstrations for greater rights from the Western-backed Sunni monarchy.

Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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