Our Bloomberg Column: Bahrain Grand Prix Has a Winner, and It’s Not Arab Monarchies
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Bahrain Grand Prix Has a Winner, and It’s Not Arab Monarchies
Having been relegated to the minor headlines in both the Arab and Western media, the anti-government protests in the tiny Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain finally had their moment this weekend.
With foreign journalists and other outsiders descending on the island country for Sunday’s Grand Prix race, critics of the monarchy stepped up their activities to take advantage of the audience, while government forces responded as they have all along — with a strong arm. One activist was found shot dead on a roof, raising suspicions he may have been targeted by security forces. More than 50 protestors and several policemen have been killed since anti-government protests started in February 2011 in Bahrain, which has a population of 1.2 million.
In an editorial, the London-based, Palestinian-owned Al-Quds al-Arabi wrote: “The Formula 1 race generated results that went completely against the government’s wishes.” The concurrent protests “allowed the whole world to see that Bahrain is not as stable as the government is promoting and that it features a strong opposition demanding legitimate democratic change.”
On the other hand, commentators writing for newspapers supportive of Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa, as well as some other papers financed by Gulf governments, didn’t see what the big deal was. They expressed exasperation that other media, including the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera website and TV network, had devoted so much attention to the unrest…
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