Bahrain: one dead as motorheads descend

A man was found dead April 21 after overnight clashes between the pro-democracy protesters and police in Bahrain, as the Formula One Grand Prix car-racing spectacle is set to open in the conflicted Persian Gulf mini-state. Some media reported the man had been beaten to death by riot police, while other said there were gunshot wounds on his body. Claiming Friday the 20th as the first of “three days of rage” against Bahrain’s rulers, some 50,000 anti-government protesters gathered in the capital Manama, 25 miles away from the Formula One site. Demonstrators called for the “overthrow of the regime” and demanded freedom for the dissident Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who has been on hunger strike in prison for more than 70 days. Police fired tear gas and sound bombs to disperse the crowds. The protest movement has called a boycott of the Grand Prix, but Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa rules out cancelling the event, saying such a move would only “empower extremists.” (AllVoices, April 21)

The Demotix website identifies the dead protester as Salah Abbas Habib. He was apparently a prominent leader of the movement, and the site shows a picture from last March of him standing in front of a column armored vehicles advancing on Manama’s Pearl Roundabout—invoking the iconic image from the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing.

We unequivocally support the Bahrain protesters and their boycott call, but we wish they wouldn’t keep repeating that they would welcome Formula One to a free Bahrain. The Grand Prix is an exponent of the global car culture sustained by the global petro-oligarchy, of which Bahrain’s reactionary monarchy is a pillar. It is time to start getting the big picture.

See our last posts on Bahrain and the Arab revolutions.

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  1. Abu Dhabi plans carbon-neutral city
    Even if primarily for public relations purposes, another one of the Persian Gulf petro-states has announced a visionary project to address the climate crisis. Abu Dhabi, one of the United Arab Emirates, is building a technopolis in the desert, to be called Masdar City, which will be developing alternatives to fossil fuel energy—ultra-efficient photovoltaics and the like. Planners boast that Masdar City, with a projected population of 50,000, will be a working model of a “carbon-neutral” future. Yes, it will actually be car-free. The energy company website Vattenfall tells us: “Abu Dhabi has pledged that green energy will account for at least seven percent of the country’s total power generation by 2020.” Way too slow to meaningfully address the global crisis, of course… Which is why we are suspicious (at best) of such techno-fix solutions that would leave the structures of global capitalism intact…