Tens of thousands of men walked from the Bahrain mall into the capital's main square, with throngs of women bringing up the rear, carrying flags and banners of seven people killed during the uprising. Protesters continued to demand political concessions from the government, including the removal of the king's uncle, the prime minister.
Ibrahim Al Hur, an unemployed crane operator, brought his 6-year-old daughter to Pearl Square today "because I want to prove we are peaceful, we don't come to fight, just to ask for our rights -- young, old, men and women."
Today's turnout was boosted by a loose coalition of seven opposition groups, which urged their members to join the youth-driven protesters encamped in the square.
The square was bedecked in new banners, including one hanging off an overpass that read: "We've known of people changing regimes, not regimes changing people."
Although protesters continued to say their demands were not religiously aligned, many continued to complain of Shiite Muslims being discriminated against by the Sunni Muslim minority.
In an effort to diffuse the protests, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa ordered the release of some political prisoners today in another concession to the opposition's demands.
The king's decree covers several Shiite activists, but it was not clear how many will be freed, a government spokeswoman told The Associated Press. Twenty-five Shiite activists are on trial for allegedly plotting against the Sunni rulers.
Gaining momentum after a week of clashes, the crowds in Manama are gearing up for the return of Hassan Mushaimaa, a self-exiled opposition figure.
Mushaimaa, who is considered an enemy of the state, has previously been detained by the government for calling for democratic reform. He is being tried in absentia with other Shiite activists, accused of plotting to overthrow Bahrain's Sunni leadership. Bahrain's Shiites make up approximately 70 percent of the country's 525,000 citizens. The young Shiite population hoped to spread the mobilization to the Sunni minority.
But in another part of the city, tens of thousands of pro-government protesters pledged their support for Bahrain's Sunni monarch, chanting pro-government slogans and waving Bahraini flags. The crown prince, Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, continued to call for a national dialogue toward reconciliation, a demand so far eschewed by protesters.
Shiites complain of discrimination and favoritism toward Sunnis, including foreigners.
"I want a better job," said Hajar Haddad, a 25-year-old accountant. "The outsiders take all the good jobs, and they keep the bad jobs for us."
Bahrain is an important U.S. ally, as it plays host to the American Navy's 5th Fleet, a counterbalance to Iran's military power in the Persian Gulf.
"It's a matter of humanity," said Abdulla Thamer, an employee of the Ministry of Labor. "After shooting and killing people, they were sleeping. We do not want to negotiate."
Today may mark a new page in the ongoing unrest in Bahrain.
"The government is using every tactic possible to create divisions. They want the international community to think they have support. That's what's important to them," said Maryam al-Khawaja, a young activist. "The thing that worries me is if they arrest Hassan Mushaimaa at the airport, people aren't going to accept that."