Home > Democracy, Economic Development > More on Bahrain’s Formula 1 decision

More on Bahrain’s Formula 1 decision


I know Formula 1 is hardly NASCAR — where event attendees makes you wonder why things like human rights even exist — but the racing league’s decision to reschedule the Bahrain Grand Prix for October sends a strong signal to the protesters that profits reigns over all.

As I noted yesterday, Bahrain gets a lot of money from its tourism industry. And when your economy is in a standstill because your army is in a standoff with civilian protesters, well, I guess you’ll do just about anything to get a kickstart.

Formula 1’s former president put it best:

Max Mosley, the former president of the FIA, who was involved in a major sex scandal after videos of him were released on a British newspaper web site in 2008, was quoted on ESPN F1 as saying: “If I was president today, F1 would go to Bahrain over my dead body (…)They will be attempting to use the grand prix to support what they are doing, almost using F1 as an instrument of repression (…) To go will be a public relations disaster, and sponsors will want their liveries removed.”

Oh, but wait! The World Council of the International Automobile Federation did its homework in regard to human rights abuses because it called Tariq Al Saffar at the National Institute of Human Rights in Bahrain. Of course, this is the same Tariq Al Saffar who was appointed to that position by the current king, who, maybe you’re aware, is the guy authorizing all those tanks to kill all those unarmed protesters. Al Saffar is also the owner of Bahrain Financial Harbour, a 380,000 square meter real estate development that is a linchpin in the country’s highly important banking and financial industry. Oh, and the company has some pretty close and lucrative ties to the government.

Let’s keep in mind here that despite lifting its state of emergency, Bahrain is still cracking down on protesters and continues prohibiting human rights organizations from operating. F1 racing is kowtowing to a government that desperately needs to sell its loyalists on something — which is of course cars that can go really, really fast. Because, you know, Bahrainis need to be able to forget their troubles for a day, too, and this revolution thing must be getting a little tiring.

 

 

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