Opposition Calls for Week of Protest Against F1
Opposition groups Al-Wefaq, National Democratic Action Society, Nationalist Democratic Assembly Society, Alekha National Society, and National Democratic Assemblage called for a week of sit-ins and demonstrations under the banner of “steadfastness and challenge,” in order to “take advantage of this week’s race to highlight their political and democratic demands.” The Coalition of February 14th Youth movement has called for “Three Days of Rage” that coincide with the days of the Grand Prix race. Former world racing champion Damon Hill, who had recently voiced his concern over holding the Formula One (F1) race, has now thrown his support behind the Grand Prix again, saying, “The less vocal majority of Bahrainis also have a right to get on with their lives and we also have a responsibility to our F1 fans in the region.” Despite the final decision being made, tensions were still high at a recent press conference, where drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were ushered out of the room after questions were raised about the political unrest in Bahrain.
Many experts continued to criticize F1′s decision to go forward with the race. Paul Weaver says Bahrain is not ready to host the race this year, and “[The] decision to go ahead with race has everything to do with business and nothing to do with the celebration of sport.” Brad Spurgeon writes about the media’s role in covering the Bahrain race that has overshadowed the Shanghai race, where Bernie Ecclestone said regarding Bahrain, “It’s a problem being discussed by the media. They don’t have any idea what’s going on. That’s the problem.” An editorial in The Guardian argues that the Grand Prix is not “divorced from the moral world,” and “the drivers, sponsors and team owners who participate should consider that they will be giving cover to a violently human rights-abusing regime.” Patrick Collins, who describes the decision to go ahead with the race as “game, set and match to filthy lucre,” says he believes this year should be no different than last year: cancel the race.