"WHAT PROTESTS?? Kim Kardashian loved by the people of Bahrain," promoter tweets
Reports quote a local newspaper saying tear gas was used to disperse protesters
CNN has not independently confirmed police used tear gas on Kardashian protesters
Kardashian visited Bahrain to promote a new milkshake shop at a Bahrain mall
Kim Kardashian’s weekend visit to promote milkshakes in Bahrain drew a large crowd of excited fans, but the promoter who brought the Hollywood reality star to the island Gulf state denied a report of protesters being tear-gassed by police.
Kardashian, 32, stopped in Bahrain Saturday as part of a Middle Eastern promotional tour for Millions of Milkshakes, a franchise created and owned by businessman Sheeraz Hasan.
“WHAT PROTESTS?? Kim Kardashian loved by the people of Bahrain & wants to return!!” Hasan said in a Twitter posting Sunday.
CNN has been unable to independently confirm the reports, all of which are ultimately attributed to an unidentified “local newspaper,” that police used tear-gas grenades to disperse 100 Shiite Muslim protesters with anti-Kardashian signs before her arrival at a high-end shopping complex in Riffa, Bahrain.
Kardashian, whose reps did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment Sunday, did tweet about her visit Saturday, not addressing the protest report: “Thanks @sheerazhasan and Paresh A Shah for an amazing trip to The Kingdom of Bahrain and Kuwait. We did it!!!”
Kardashian, who initially gained notoriety when a sex tape with singer Ray J. Norwood leaked in 2007, told fans gathered in the mall. “It’s so beautiful here, the people are so amazing.”
Shiites are two-thirds of Bahrain’s population, but it is ruled by a Sunni royal family.
The split between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, the two major denominations of the Islamic faith, dates back to the 7th century when the two sects were divided over who should lead the nascent religion following the Prophet Mohammed’s death.
Shiite Muslims believed a direct descendent of the prophet should lead, while Sunnis believed there was no rightful successor and that one should be selected by followers. The schism culminated in a war that forever split the sects.
Shiite groups have conducted public protests demanding greater economic opportunities, including jobs, housing and political rights.
“Protests stem from a population who feel they are being treated as second-class citizens, not because they have different interpretations of the Quran,” said Jane Kinninmont, senior research fellow at British think tank Chatham House, in a CNN interview last year.
Journalist Susannah Palk contributed to this report.