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» 04/20/2012
Bahrain, government steps up security ahead of Grand Prix
The FIA still to give the go ahead to race. The opposition announces protests for all three days of the Grand Prize. In the capital, protests continue. Pilots invited to stay in hotels.

Manama (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The government of Bahrain has stepped up security measures ahead of the Formula 1 Grand Prix on 22 April. Today the practice runs should start, but the FIA ​​(International Automobile Federation) has not yet given the go ahead. Since yesterday, the police and military have been blocking people in villages to prevent them from joining recent protests in and arrested 95 demonstrators. In the capital all public gatherings have been banned. The authorities have also denied entry visas to foreign journalists and photographers. The cameraman who had already arrived in the kingdom were obliged to put a fluorescent sticker on their cameras that makes them recognizable from a distance and will be kept under close surveillance. This is to prevent any protests being filmed near the circuit.

The Shiite opposition leaders have announced protests for the next three days and want to use the car race to attract world attention on human rights violations carried out by the Sunni regime. They demand the release of 14 activists arrested during the protests of 2011, and the killing of over 70 people in a year of demonstrations. .

As a precaution the FIA has asked drivers to stay in hotels. Yesterday, a Molotov cocktail was was thrown at a car carrying some of the Force India mechanical team, who were blocked by a demonstration in central Manama. The pilots, however, minimize the episode and say they want to focus on the race. Sebastian Vettel, the reigning world champion, said: "I have not seen anyone throw bombs. I do not think that the climate is as described in the media. I think we are just raising a hornet's nest."

Bahrain is a Shia majority country, but ruled by a Sunni royal family an ally of Saudi Arabia. For over a year the population is demanding constitutional reforms and the removal of the prime minister, Sheik Khalifah bin Salman al-Khalifah, in power since 1971. In March 2011, the Shiite opposition organized a popular uprising in the wake of the "Arab spring". To quell the demonstrations, the government asked ally Saudi Arabia for help, which intervened by sending special forces authorized to fire on demonstrators. 24 people died in the clashes, including 4 policemen. The tensions had forced the FIA to cancel the race, which brings from 400 to 500 million U.S. dollars into the state coffers.


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See also
11/07/2012 BAHRAIN
Manama revokes citizenship of 31 activists and opponents
04/14/2012 BAHRAIN
FIA ignores pro-democracy protests, goes ahead with Formula 1 Grand Prix
07/30/2013 BAHRAIN
Manama cracks down on popular protests
02/19/2009 BAHRAIN - IRAN
Manama suspends negotiations with Tehran, winning Arab solidarity
04/21/2012 BAHRAIN
Bahrain: Molotov cocktails and tear gas in clashes between police and demonstrators near the F1

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