Bahrain insists Grand Prix will go ahead despite mounting violence

 

Crowds armed with iron rods and sticks ransacked a supermarket belonging to a large Shia-owned business in Bahrain yesterday as sectarian violence flared in the island kingdom.

The violence will throw further doubts on the likelihood of the Formula One Grand Prix taking place in Bahrain in 10 days. The attack appears to be in retaliation for a bombing on Monday which injured seven members of the overwhelmingly Sunni police force.

Human-rights advocates warn that they expect dangerous clashes between protesters and the security forces if the Formula One race goes ahead. Several teams competing in the race said privately yesterday that they expect it to be cancelled because of the continuing unrest. Earlier in the week, the Formula One boss, Bernie Ecclestone, said it was up to individual teams whether they competed.

Local organisers have insisted that the race will go ahead. Speaking on Tuesday, Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed Al Zayani said "armchair observers" had been driving the debate.

"This, combined with the scaremongering tactics of certain small extremist groups on social-networking sites, has created huge misconceptions about the current situation," he said.

"The level of clashes has already trebled in the last week," Nabeel Rajab, who heads the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, said in an interview with The Independent from Bahrain. He expects the situation to get much more dangerous if Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, another prominent human-rights leader, dies in prison as a result of his prolonged hunger strike.

The Bahraini government is using the return of the Formula One race, after being cancelled last year, as a sign that situation has returned to normal after the pro-democracy protests were crushed last year. A government-sponsored report by the jurist Cherif Bassiouni found that 3,000 people were arrested arbitrarily during the repression and many of them were tortured.

Mr Rajab said that staging the Formula One was an attempt by the Bahraini government "to break out of its isolation". To give credence to its claim that the Grand Prix can be staged safely, the Bahraini Interior Ministry has hired John Yates, the former Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in London, as an adviser. He resigned after being linked to the phone-hacking scandal last year. He said this week that Bahrain is "95 per cent" safe and there were only "pockets of violence". He stressed the economic importance of the Grand Prix race to Bahrain.

Mr Rajab, who says he and his family have been targeted because of his human-rights activities, believes that the Shia in Bahrain are being marginalised by the Sunni al-Khalifa monarchy.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Designer / Design Director

£38000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B content marketing agen...

Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn