The turn from civil resistance to civil war in the Syrian uprising is often explained by sectarian tensions and violent crackdown by the regime. In the Bahraini uprising, however, sectarian tensions and violent crackdown had very different effects – namely silencing the revolution. This chapter addresses the puzzling, ambiguous dynamics of sectarian tension and violent repression by comparing the initial phase of the Bahraini and Syrian uprisings. It argues that both regimes attempted to displace the conflict lines from a conflict between the people and a state to a conflict between two sects. In Bahrain, the regime succeeded in displacing the conflict lines in a manner that increased divisions within the movement. In Syria, on the other hand, the displaced conflict lines also affected the regime due to its mixed sectarian composition and therefore none of the parties were able to dominate the situation. Moreover, the respective regimes’ repressive strategies differed with respect to visibility and lethality. In Bahrain, de-energizing repression was increasingly employed, i.e. mainly injuring, imprisoning and torturing protesters which de-mobilized the movement. In contrast, killings became increasingly visible in Syria and energizing repression continued to mobilize protesters. The article concludes that the diverging effects of sectarian tension and violent repression can be subscribed to whether repression was de-energizing or energizing as well as whether conflict displacement caused regime divisions or not.