Formula One set to decide on Bahrain

Governing body to announce decision to hold Grand Prix, two days after Gulf Arab state ended emergency rule.

    An ongoing crackdown against protesters in Bahrain may affect this year's Formula One race in Manama [Getty]

    Formula One's governing body is set to decide if the Gulf Arab state of Bahrain can host the Grand Prix later this year.

    F1 bosses were to decide on Friday whether or not to again reschedule the racing event for later this year.

    On Wednesday, the island's government ended a three-month period of emergency rule two weeks early, prompting activists to claim that emergency rule was ended early to increase the chances of hosting the Formula One race.

    Emergency rule had been imposed after one month of protests led by the country’s majority Shia Muslim population calling for political changes.

    The Sunni Arab monarchy invited troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to help quell the protest movement.

    The Formula One race, originally planned for March, was cancelled days after protests began in February.

    Meanwhile, a petition gathering more than 300,000 signatures calling on Red Bull and other Formula One teams not to take part in the Bahrain Grand Prix has gone up on the advocacy website Avaaz.

    The petition reads: "Sports boycotts have piled pressure on other regimes such as apartheid South Africa - we can do it again."

    The Reuters news agency reported that 28 out of 108 staff members of the state-owned Bahrain International Circuit , which hosts the Grand Prix, were fired from their work. All those fired were Shia Muslims, according to a colleague.

    Even so, a member of al-Wefaq, Bahrain's mainlly Shia opposition group, supported hosting the Formula One event. Speaking to Al Jazeera over phone from Manama, Jasim Husain said: "Hosting the event in Bahrain would provide a golden opportunity and a way forward for some of the challenges we are facing today."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and Agencies


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