Bahraini police have fired tear gas and arrested demonstrators in two Shia villages during protests against the Formula One race to be held in the Gulf kingdom, activists said.
Dozens of young protesters gathered on Sunday in the village of Abu Saiba, west of Manama, and Tubli, south of the capital Manama, according to postings by the Coalition of the Youth of the February 14th Revolution on Facebook.
Police fired tear gas to disperse the small gatherings and made some arrests, according to provided footage.
Activists have intensified their campaign to push the Formula One governing body to cancel the Bahrain round of the world championship, slated for April 20 to April 22 at the Sakhir circuit southwest of Manama.
The race was canceled last year due to protests that gripped the Shia-majority state after a mid-March crackdown on protests demanding democratic reforms that would challenge the power of the Sunni Al-Khalifa ruling dynasty.
“We [object to] holding a sports race that belittles the sacrifices of our children and ignores our suffering and wounds,” said a statement read by a youth dressed in a white death shroud and a black hood, according to a video posted on the internet.
“Do not tarnish the reputation of the respected auto sport with the blood of Bahrain victims.”
On the internet site Twitter, a whole campaign has been launched against the return of the Grand Prix to Bahrain.
“Stop, my blood is flowing” and “Race over blood”, were two slogans posted by activists on Twitter, where hash-tags like “BloodyF1” and “NoF1” have generated scores of tweets.
Bernie Ecclestone, president of Formula One, has insisted that the outbreak of fresh violence will not affect this year’s race.
According to an independent investigation, 35 people were killed in the violence in Bahrain between mid-February and mid-March 2011.