Bahrain’s F1 Race Concludes With Focus Now on Unrest
Zainab al-Khawaja, daughter of human rights defender Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, has been detained for seven days while protesting for the release of her father, whose trial was delayed by another week. Amnesty International described the postponement as “toying with the life” of al-Khawaja. Additionally, E.U. High Representative Catherine Ashton released a statement, expressing worry about the postponement. Meanwhile, clashes renewed with police and protesters during the funeral of Salah Abbas Habib Musa, a protester who was killed over the weekend. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights criticized Bahrain’s court for handing down military sentences to criminally charged civilians.
In the aftermath of the Formula One (F1) race, Britain’s Channel 4, whose team was deported from Bahrain, interviewed a government spokesman about the mistreatment of its crew. The government maintained that Bahrain is peaceful, and is being torn apart by extremists, as Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa blamed the unrest on “a conspiracy orchestrated by a minority to divide the one-nation into two.” However, criticism continues despite John Yates‘ apparent “bewilderment” of people’s negative reactions. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned the government’s crackdown on journalists who tried to cover stories outside of the F1 race.
Nicholas Noe and Walid Raad say the protesters came out on top last weekend, as demonstrations and unrest were relatively widely reported despite the government’s attempt to portray peace. Richard Williams says the issues are not black and white, but points out that the Bahrain government’s slogan of “UniF1ed” is a “clear breach of Formula One’s own covenants, which bar it from political involvement of any kind.” Andrew Hammond argues that the disunity of the government is further apparent after F1, and quotes Al Wefaq’s opinion that the “country is hostage to discord within the ruling family.” Joe Saward writes of his personal thoughts on the F1 race, both before going to Bahrain and after leaving it, and concludes: “we should have stayed out of it but, once committed, then if we managed to show the world that there are three sides to this argument then I guess we served a good purpose.” Emile Nakhleh urges U.S. action in Bahrain, arguing that pulling the Fifth Fleet would send a clear message to an oppressive regime that should not be tolerated.