Bahrain tightens security for F1 weekend

2012-04-20 16:02
Bahraini anti-government protesters carry signs during a march in Al-Dair, Bahrain, chanting anti-government slogans. (Hasan Jamali, AP)

Bahraini anti-government protesters carry signs during a march in Al-Dair, Bahrain, chanting anti-government slogans. (Hasan Jamali, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Manama - Authorities in Bahrain on Friday stepped up security around the Formula One circuit after clashes between protesters and security forces intensified ahead of the controversial Grand Prix race in the Gulf Kingdom.

Last year, a wave of anti-government protests by the island's Shi'ite majority and a violent crackdown by the Sunni rulers prompted organisers to cancel the 2011 Bahrain GP.

At least 50 people have been killed since the start of Bahrain's uprising, inspired by other Arab Spring revolts, and violence continues to roil the island.

The 2012 grand prix race - Bahrain's premier international event - will take place despite appeals by rights groups for another cancellation and pressure from protesters, including a jailed activist on a more than a two-month-long hunger strike.

There have also been allegations of widespread human rights abuses in the tiny, but strategic island that is the home of the US Navy's 5th Fleet.

Additional security troops were deployed this week around the Bahrain International Circuit and across the capital, Manama. Supporters of the Shi'ite opposition plan to rally later on Friday against the F1 race, which is backed by the ruling Sunni dynasty.

Intensifying protests

Shi'ites account for about 70% of Bahrain's population of just over half a million people, but claim they face widespread discrimination and lack opportunities that the Sunni minority has.

The country's leaders have offered some reforms, but the opposition says they fall short of Shi'ite demands for a greater voice in the country's affairs and an elected government.

Clashes between protesters and security forces have taken place almost every day for months. The unrest has intensified in the lead-up to the F1 race, including riot police firing tear gas and stun grenades at groups of opposition supporters rallying in the predominantly Shi'ite villages that ring Manama.

Opposition leaders from Bahrain's largest Shi'ite bloc, Al-Wefaq, said at least 50 people have been injured in the past two days when security forces fired pellets to disperse protesters on several occasions.

Authorities vowed zero tolerance for protests as they tried to present a sense of stability ahead of the F1 weekend.

The rulers have also billed the race - expected to draw a worldwide TV audience of about 100 million in 187 countries - as an event that will put the divided society on the path of reconciliation.

Talks unsuccessful

On the track, teams will be practicing on Friday and Saturday. The race is scheduled for Sunday.

Much of the protesters' anger has been directed at Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who owns the rights to the Bahrain GP. He is also the commander of the kingdom's armed forces, which the opposition supporters say have been enforcing the crackdown.

Last year, Salman was tasked to lead a national dialogue aimed at reconciliation between Shi'ite and Sunnis. The talks broke down without any compromise and have not yet resumed.

Bahrain's most senior Shi'ite cleric, Sheik Isa Qassim, condemned the Sunni rulers for staging the F1 race despite opposition protests. In a strongly worded sermon during Friday prayers, the cleric said the rulers cracked down on dissent aggressively "as if we are entering a war".

In Iraq, hard-line Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, denounced Bahrain for staging the grand prix while "blood is being shed" on the island. Al-Sadr also condemned the F1 teams for racing, saying their presence in Bahrain gives "support for injustices and the killings".

As a majority Shi'ite country, Iraq has backed Bahrain's Shi'ite-led protests.


- AP
Read more on:    bahrain  |  uprisings  |  bahrain protests
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Hottie of the day: Nicole Meyer!

Nicole is the cover girl for the 2014 edition of SA Swimsuit! Check out some smoking hot pics of here here.

 
 

Men24.com

11 things men don’t know about their clothes
Hilarious mortal kombat elevator prank!
This is how the Top Gear presenters spend their £55 million!
Thirty and still single? There’s hope!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The Moon has moved into your sign, emphasizing the need to connect things to work together. There is a tendency to focus too far...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.