Despite Concerns Of Unrest, Ecclestone Says Bahrain F1 Will Go As Scheduled
A series of explosions in Bahrain "has raised security fears ahead of the kingdom’s premier international sporting event" -- this weekend's F1 Grand Prix motor race, according to Simeon Kerr of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The interior ministry said on Monday that "it would boost security after 'terrorists' ignited a gas canister in a car in the central commercial district of the capital late on Sunday." The blast outside the Bahrain Financial Harbour "was accompanied by three other explosions on the outskirts of the capital Manama, with the February 14 youth movement claiming responsibility for the attacks and pledging 'more operations'" (FT, 4/15). The BBC reported the explosion "occurred only a few hours after a press conference given" by Bahrain Information Affairs Minister Samira Rajab. She had described the situation in Bahrain as "very reassuring." She blamed foreign media for "blowing the security situation out of proportion." Rajab said, "There has been no major escalation of violence on the ground recently as the F1 Bahrain Grand Prix is drawing nearer." However, there "have been daily protests and one hundred have reportedly been arrested in connection with the race" (BBC, 4/15).
ECCLESTONE GIVES THUMBS UP: The BBC also reported F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said there is "no reason" why this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix should not go ahead. Ecclestone said, "There's no reason why [the race] shouldn't be [a success]." Asked about the demonstrations, he said: "What's happened? They're demonstrating now? I didn't know that. There's nobody demonstrating." The Bahrain authorities have promised "appropriate security measures" for the grand prix. Protestors said that "they see an opportunity to use the race to highlight what they say are injustices still being committed against them" (BBC, 4/15).