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Bahrain: F1 races over blood

Yusur Al Bahrani

April 25, 2012

Despite the brutal ongoing crackdown against pro-democracy protestors, Bahrain—home of the United States’ Fifth Fleet—staged the Formula 1 Grand Prix on April 21 and 23.

The government of Bahrain tried to polish its image by insisting to resist activists’ demands from around the world to cancel F1 this year. The government, which has banned foreign journalists and human rights activists from entering the country, welcomed fans and sports journalists to cover the two days race. The monarchy of Bahrain attempted to drive attention away from the continuing violations against protestors, activists and their families in several Bahraini cities and villages.

However, the Bahraini government failed in its public relations mission. The banners in the streets carrying the slogan “UniF1ied—One Nation in Celebration” were not successful in deceiving activists and human rights defenders. Tens of thousands of protestors marched on F1 eve. Several sports journalists were able to cover the protest, and the Bahraini forces’ attacks against civilians. While F1 cars raced, at least one Bahraini protestor, Salah Abbas Habib, was killed after being shot by internationally prohibited bird gun shot, which is usually used by the Bahraini riot police in attacking demonstrators.

Outraged by the media coverage of sports journalists who visited several Bahraini cities and villages and witnessed the attacks against peaceful protestors, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain Khalid Al-Khalifa said: “If there is any here to cover ugly bloody confrontations, go to Syria. Here we have a Grand Prix to enjoy.” Bahrain F1 proved that the economic revenue for the capitalist system has priority over the lives of hundreds thousands of men and women demanding nothing but an end to the ongoing oppression.

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