Emails & Letters
The View of Bahrain
If, when the decision was taken to go ahead with hosting the April Formula 1 Grand Prix, Bahrain hoped to promote itself as a country returned to normality, it made a grave mistake.
Press reports across the various media couldn’t have made it clearer, there has been no resolution of the discontent that surfaced on the streets of Manama last year.
Indeed, as the media descended on Bahrain, rather than looking like a country returned to unity, peace and prosperity, the place looked more like a deeply divided war zone. And, when the cameras turned their attentions from hooded youths hurling flaming Molotov cocktails at the police in Pearl Square, there was no shortage of disgruntled doctors and medical workers prepared to speak out about the victims of torture they had treated over recent months, some of them – it is alleged – patched up only so their ordeal could be continued.
The Grand Prix eventually went ahead as planned but no amount of celebrating trackside could undo the damage done by the images of violence and dissent broadcast over previous days. Let this be a lesson to Bahrain – and to others in the region that would seek to brush over the cracks of their ailing regimes. The arrogance and hubris displayed by those in authority in Manama is almost beyond belief. Did they seriously imagine that by some miracle their oppressed dissidents, in thrall to the glamour and sophisticated of F1, would overlook the tyranny and torture that has become part and parcel of their daily lives?
If so, they misjudged all the political pointers. The event attracted far more politically adverse publicity than it did positive sporting coverage. For sure there were more than F1 racing cars backfiring in Manama in April.
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