Bahrain Protesters Burn Tires Ahead of Grand Prix Race
Bahrain’s opposition burned tires in Shiite villages today, hours ahead of a Grand Prix race in which King Hamad is expected to attend.
A government helicopter circled the capital Manama and several villages in the early morning. The mostly Shiite opposition has stepped up its anti-regime protests, calling for the race to be canceled until reforms are introduced.
This year’s Grand Prix has highlighted the differences that have riven this island nation since anti-regime protests began in February 2011. The 2011 race in Bahrain was canceled due to the clashes.
Al-Wefaq, the largest Shiite group, accused government security forces yesterday of killing Salah Abbas Habib, 36, during a “brutal” April 20 crackdown on an evening protest in Shakhoura. “Some of the participants were cruelly beaten by different tools and weapons,” al-Wefaq said in a statement.
The Interior Ministry said Habib was found with a wound to his left side, according to the Information Affairs Authority. It said the ministry is investigating the death and asked “that people await the results of the autopsy and further updates rather than relying on speculation, including rumors spread through social media.”
The government quashed last year’s rallies by mostly Shiite demonstrators demanding equal rights and representation. Small demonstrations still take place regularly in Shiite neighborhoods, sometimes spilling into commercial areas of Manama.
Acts of violence have intensified in the run-up to the Grand Prix, the biggest international event in the kingdom since last year’s crackdown.
King Hamad said he was personally committed to “reform and reconciliation in our great country,” according to an e-mailed statement from the Information Affairs Authority.
“The door is always open for sincere dialogue among all our people,” the statement said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Donna Abu-Nasr in Manama at firstname.lastname@example.org
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