A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, April 20, 2012

Formula Wrong: Is Bahrain's F1 Grand Prix Race Backfiring?

The decision to go ahead with Bahrain's Formula 1 Grand Prix race this weekend may have seemed like a good idea at one time: try to show that the country is back to normal after last year's disturbances; give Bahrain some positive PR instead of the negative ones engendered by clashes with the opposition, and so on. It isn't quite working out that way. Major protests have erupted demanding cancellation of the race, and of course the media eye is focused on Bahrain precisely because of the race, so the protests are getting coverage. Jane Kinninmont at Foreign Policy recently went into some detail about the complexities of the situation (it's not just a government vs. opposition thing as some in the opposition supported the race), but whatever happens in the race itself, today's demonstrations have made sure that the world is reminded of the situation in Bahrain.

The Crown Prince says the race will go on, but now the race itself has become a lightning rod, and the PR strategy may have backfired.

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