Bahrain Shiite Opposition Group Al-Wefaq Calls For Formula One Protests
Bahrain's influential Shiite opposition bloc Al-Wefaq and a more radical group "have called separate rallies for Friday to protest the weekend staging of the Formula One Grand Prix in Manama," according to the AFP. Demonstrations have been held during the three-day Grand Prix event every year since '11 by opponents of the ruling Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty "in an attempt to highlight pro-reform demands." The protests "have at times been marred by violence but the race has never been affected." They "are mainly staged in Shiite villages surrounding Manama and away from the Sakhir F1 circuit in the capital's south." Al-Wefaq in a Tuesday statement "urged its supporters to hold a rally on the main Budaya highway," four kilometers west of Manama, which links several Shiite villages. Al-Wefaq's peaceful rallies "are usually tolerated by the authorities and rarely end with clashes." But protests by supporters of radical cyber-group the February 14 Revolution Youth Coalition "are more violent and often end with clashes between police and demonstrators armed with petrol bombs." Public security chief General Tariq Hasan said Tuesday the authorities have taken "all measures and plans" to secure the event which will be staged Friday to Sunday (AFP, 4/2).