Grand Prix State Terror
Ruling despots shot themselves in the foot.
by Stephen Lendman
Perhaps Bahrain April 22 was a first. Imagine a sporting event featuring state-sponsored terror and blood in the streets.
Imagine one with race drivers and event organizers mindless of raging crimes against humanity nearby.
Hollywood script writers wouldn't touch it. Producers wouldn't let them. The atmosphere was surreal. Attendance was sparse. A normally full grandstand was half empty. It's a wonder anyone came.
Observers said more security forces than spectators showed up. Most teams, drivers, mechanics, engineers, and other personnel preferred to stay home. Nonetheless, they came.
Formula 1's reputation was tarnished. Instead of pulling out, it went ahead anyway. Although favorite Sebastian Vettel took the checkered flag, no one won the contest. It was more travesty than sporting event.
The Al Khalifa monarchy's media strategy backfired. Instead of burnishing Bahrain's image, journalists focused more on rage against injustice, blood in the streets, police state violence, security forces and armored vehicles surrounding the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC), and clouds of black smoke rising nearby.
Even though the heavily guarded venue let the race come off without incident, Bahraini protesters won on Sunday. Millions watched worldwide. Social media spread the word.
So did journalists courageous enough to explain. Even The New York Times got some of it right. It quoted activists saying they were protesting for democratic change.
It mentioned human rights leader Abdulhadi Alkhawaja's "hunger strike for over two months." It's now two and a half months and counting, but how much longer can he hold on?
It also reported protest leader Salah Abbas Habib's death by "gunshot wounds" without mentioning his name. It cited opposition groups blaming police. It explained that "antigovernment protesters have been demonstrating for democratic reforms" since other "revolts erupted across" the region last year.
The Washington Post , however, relied solely on an April 22 AP largely puff piece. It focused mostly on the event. It said "Bahrain got exactly the type of incident-free Formula One race it wanted...."
Perhaps inside, but not on bloodstained streets where the real action took place the way it's done for months.