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Protestors demand cancellation of GP

NEWS STORY
21/02/2011

Protestors in Bahrain are demanding that the Grand Prix scheduled to take place next month be cancelled, claiming that it is merely an ego trip for the Crown Prince and highlights the country's main problem, the gap between rich and poor.

In the eyes of many, the Grand Prix is the vanity project of Crown Prince Sheik Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and his family, and it is being claimed that following the shooting of protestors last week it was only once the Grand Prix was threatened that the Crown Prince withdrew his troops and offered to enter into negotiations with the protestors.

"There is a big connection between (the uprising) and Formula 1," said Hasan Dhani, a 23-year-old protester, according to AP. "The race has been the prince's dream since he was a child. He wants to negotiate so he can fulfil this dream, and it makes me sad that his dream is more dear to him than the needs of his people."

"His precious Formula One is more important than the blood of his people which he spilled," added 38-year-old protester, Mohammed Nimah. "We put pressure on the Formula One contract, the crown prince got scared and now he wants to negotiate."

In the face of growing worldwide unease, there is talk that a decision to postpone the race - rather than cancel it outright - will be made today.

However, other than the logistics of finding a new slot on an already crowded calendar, the fact is that the Middle East is going through a period of remarkable change, witness the fall of Mubarak in Egypt.

Despite the fact that the Sunni royal family has ruled Bahrain for 200 years, the largely Shiite population wants change. While the Grand Prix may well be the Crown Prince's pet vanity project, in the eyes of the majority of the people it represents all that is wrong with the country.

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