Tens of thousands of Bahrainis rallied along the Budaiya highway west of Manama on Friday, two days before the Formula One Grand Prix, demanding the cancellation of the race over Manama’s crackdown on protests.
The demonstrators also demanded democracy and called for the ouster of ruling Al Khalifa dynasty. Regime forces fired tear gas to break up the peaceful demonstration.
The rally comes a day after anti-F1 protests were held across the kingdom. Regime forces fired tear gas and birdshot at protesters in several town, including the Sitra and Diraz. Dozens of protesters were also arrested.
Bahrainis have repeatedly said that by holding the race in their country, F1 is turning a blind eye to human rights violations in Bahrain and even helping Manama’s in its brutal crackdown.
Bahrainis have held several anti-F1 rallies over the past few weeks, stressing that “as long as there are oppression, arrests and killings, there should not be a Formula One.”
Bahrain’s main opposition bloc al-Wefaq says more than 100 people have been arrested ahead of F1 race.
Formula One is Bahrain’s premier international event. Bahrain pays an estimated USD 40 million a year to host the race.
It was cancelled in 2011 as the result of mass anti-regime protests in the country, but in 2012 it went ahead despite protests.