It has been a rough start to the Grand Prix Race in the capital city of Manama in Bahrain, and Formula 1 race teams might be in for more than they bargained for. As the teams landed in Bahrain's international airport, hundreds of protesters gathered to oppose the race since they say the country is still oppressing the people by withholding civil rights, according to Al Jazeera English. Since then, masses of people have continued to protest the race.
"Ahead of Formula 1, we noticed that the regime became much more aggressive - a lot of injuries, a lot of arrests, and the number of people who are arrested is double compared to just a few days ago," said Mattar Mattar, a member of Bahrain's opposition party, Al-Wefaq, as reported by CNN.
Human rights organizations and anti-government groups pledged to protest for the entire duration of the race in order to demonstrate the people's continued dissatisfaction with the government. Security forces pelted protesters in village communities with tear gas and sound bombs. Protesters responded with their own petrol bombs, according the Al Jazeera English.
Last year, the Grand Prix race was cancelled because of the political protests occurring in the country. This year, however, Prince Salman bin Hanad Al Khalifa is resolute on keeping the race as a means to improve community relationships, according to the BBC.
"Having the race allows us to build bridges across communities, to get people working together. It allows us to celebrate our nation," said the Crown Prince as reported by MSNBC.
However, tourists have kept their distance. Only small crowds of spectators gathered for the grandstand on Friday, while previous years brought 100,000, according to MSNBC.
Security forces have increased at the race site, and protestors have been barred from gather within Manama city limits.
Photo by Ahmed Rabea