Bahrain sought to crush ongoing pro-democracy protests yesterday with a ban on unauthorised rallies.
The Interior Ministry said any unauthorised "gathering would be tackled through legal actions against those calling for and participating in it."
Bahrainis were "fed up with near non-stop demonstrations and clashes and there is a need to put an end to them," it claimed.
But Shi'ite political bloc al-Wefaq denounced the move as a bid to crush an ongoing struggle for democratic reform and religious equality in the autocratic monarchy, which is a close ally of Britain and the US.
The ministry's decree was "against international human rights," spokesman Hadi al-Musawi said.
Despite the outcry Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Bin Abdullah al-Khalifa emphasised that "no public activity will be allowed."
The government had previously permitted demonstrations because it attached "great value to freedom of opinion," but protesters had gone too far in promoting "slogans against the icons of the regime and the sovereignty of the state," he said.
"These insults and lack of respect cannot be tolerated under any circumstances."
Democracy protests erupted in Bahrain early in 2011 but were initially quashed by a Saudi Arabian invasion in support of the monarchy.
Despite heavy repression and at least 80 deaths demonstrations for political reform have continued.
nFormer Kuwaiti MP Musallam al-Barrack was arrested on Monday night, activists said.
Mr Barrack was reportedly seized for promoting a protest at the Gulf state's ruler on TV.
Foreign Minister Alistair Burt's admission that the Cameron government has "supported" a survey of attitudes to US drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas amounts to a tacit admission of British involvement.