(AP) MANAMA, 22 April 2012
Bahrain - Under heavy security, Bahrain’s embattled leaders toasted the return Sunday of the coveted Formula One Grand Prix even as riot police used armored vehicles to virtually seal off opposition strongholds and fight hit-and-run clashes in the Arab Spring’s longest-running street battles.
The contrasts put the Gulf kingdom’s divisions in stark relief: The Sunni rulers basking in the F1 glamor at the desert circuit while security forces imposed lockdown tactics against Shiite neighborhoods at the heart of the more than 14-month-old uprising.
As drivers prepared for the Bahrain Grand Prix, parts of the desert kingdom looked more like a war zone and one protester was discovered dead. Colin Freeman reports.
By Colin Freeman, Manama, 21 April 2012
Built very much for strength rather than speed, they were not the kind of vehicles normally seen at the world’s premiere motor racing event. Stretched along the desert highway leading to the Bahrain’s Formula One race track were dozens of armoured personnel carriers - ready to use all means necessary to ensure the event went ahead.
16 April 2012
The track has barely cooled off in Shanghai, where Nico Rosberg fended off what little challenge McLaren’s two former world champions could put up on Sunday to win the first race of the year for Mercedes. It was the first victory in the 26-year-old driver’s burgeoning career, and it signals the return to prominence for Ross Brawn’s team after two years of falling behind the triumvirate of McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari.
By Justin Bergman and Reem Khalifa, 13 April 2012
Protesters hurled firebombs and riot police fired tear gas Friday, hours after Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone declared the Gulf nation safe to host a Grand Prix race next week.
All 12 teams told Ecclestone they were happy to travel to the tiny kingdom despite the political unrest. He said no extra safety precautions were being put in place.
"There’s nothing happening (in Bahrain)," Ecclestone said in Shanghai before the Chinese Grand Prix. "I know people that live there and it’s all very quiet and peaceful."
By Hamad Mohammed, 14 April 2012
Reuters: Three Bahraini teenagers were wounded at a post-funeral rally late on Friday, the Gulf Arab country’s opposition said, on the same day that Formula One organizers said the Bahrain Grand Prix motor race scheduled in a week’s time would go ahead.
Mohammed Abdul Aziz, 14, was wounded by what appeared to be shotgun pellets, Habib Sroor, 16, was injured in the arm and eye and Sadiq Riyad, 15, had severe head injuries, a representative of Wefaq, Bahrain’s main opposition group, said on Saturday.
Global Motorsport Media, 16 April 2012
Apr.16 (GMM) Jean Todt has broken his long and conspicuous silence over the Bahrain controversy.
Until now, the ultra-low-profile FIA president had been reluctant to speak on the issue, despite deciding that the sport should push ahead with this weekend’s race in the troubled island Kingdom.
Associated Press, SHANGHAI
By: Justin Bergman, 15 April 2012
SHANGHAI (AP) Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone says next week’s Bahrain Grand Prix is definitely going ahead as planned and all of the teams are “happy” to be going there.
Ecclestone said after meeting with team principals at the Chinese Grand Prix on Friday that he believed Bahrain is peaceful enough to hold the race and that extra safety precautions would not be necessary.
By Brad Spurgeon, 15 April 2012
SHANGHAI — As I wrestled my way out of the sardine can of a Metro train car packed with racegoers for the Chinese Grand Prix Sunday I said to myself, “Hey, wait a minute, this series is not supposed to have succeeded in China! Why do I see thousands of spectators disembarking from this train, and only a tiny minority of them being foreigners?”
14 Oct 2011
MANAMA, Bahrain — A Shiite opposition leader jailed in Bahrain is gravely ill and prison authorities have not provided him with proper treatment, relatives said on Friday.
Hassan Mesheima’s son Mohammed told The Associated Press his father was treated for cancer before he was jailed in March for his role in protests for greater rights by the Gulf kingdom’s Shiite majority. He said his father told him the cancer has returned and that he needed more treatment. Mesheima’s family asked authorities to facilitate it, but “our efforts were rejected,” his son said in a phone interview.
Tory defence secretary warns that Shia protests and Sunni government crackdown will turn nation into dangerous flashpoint
4 Oct 2011
Bahrain’s religious divide means it is in danger of becoming “the Berlin of the Middle East”, Liam Fox said on Tuesday.
The defence secretary told a fringe meeting at the Tory conference in Manchester that the Shia protests and Sunni government crackdown in the Gulf nation meant it was becoming a potential flashpoint in the ongoing Arab spring.
"My worry is that if we don’t get a resolution in Bahrain you can see, on a Sunni-Shia front, that it almost becomes the Berlin of the Middle East," Fox said.