SHAFAQNA – Anti-regime demonstrators across Bahrain have held massive protest rallies, demanding the cancellation of the upcoming Formula One Grand Prix. On Friday, a large number of protesters took to the streets in several areas across the Persian Gulf kingdom to voice their outrage against the upcoming event. The fresh demonstrations came one week ahead of the event. Al Khalifa regime forces used teargas and stun grenades to disperse the protesters in several towns around the capital Manama. Bahrainis say Formula 1’s governing body, the FIA, should cancel the event over Manama’s ongoing crackdown on protests. Pro-democracy activists across Bahrain have also demanded that F1 bosses cancel the race due to Bahrain’s poor human rights record.
The angry demonstrators described Bahrain as an occupied country and slammed the hosting of the Formula One race as a failed attempt to restore Manama’s international image. Anti-regime protests flare up every year ahead of the major sport event. Manama hopes the event will highlight progress and improvements in the country’s human rights situation. The 2011 race was canceled amid a heavy crackdown on pro-democracy protests in the kingdom which left many people dead. Since mid-February 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations on the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa family to relinquish power. Scores of Bahrainis have been killed and hundreds of others injured and arrested in the ongoing crackdown on peaceful demonstrations.