Manama, Bahrain - It was a scene the Bahraini government is hoping to avoid: Hundreds of young protesters clashing with riot police and chanting slogans against next month’s Bahrain Grand Prix, a race which many officials here describe as a watershed for the country’s struggling economy.
The demonstration on Saturday night attracted a small crowd, according to witnesses, and it drew a large response from the police, which deployed more than two dozen SUVs and armoured vehicles to Sitra. Protesters threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at them, and quickly dispersed after a volley of tear gas.
At least three people were arrested, and a woman was injured after being hit by a tear gas canister.
Last year’s grand prix was canceled because of widespread unrest in Bahrain, and this year’s race has become a battleground. The opposition is lobbying Formula One to cancel the race as a rebuke to the ongoing abuses committed by Bahraini security forces.
“No Formula One without human rights” was a popular slogan on Saturday. Another chant warned the race’s main backer, crown prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, that “your project will not succeed”