F1 personnel arriving in Bahrain for this weekend's Grand Prix have been greeted with protests from people keen to see the current government removed from power.
A peaceful protest took place in the village of Al Dair close to the capital city Manama, with a number of F1 reporters making the short trip from the airport to see first hand what the protestors had to say.
The Daily Telegraph
F1 correspondent Tom Cary was amongst those to visit Al Dair where he was able to speak to people who gave the over-riding view that the race shouldn't take place.
“I have two emotions,” one local man said. “One is that I am proud to have such a big event in Bahrain. But the other part of me feels shame.
“You will be welcome here because you are guests in my country but you will be racing over blood this weekend.”
With more violent protests having taken place elsewhere in the country, including in Salmabad where Daily Mirror
reporter Byron Young and the Press Association's
Ian Parkes were witness to more serious clashes, there remains concern over whether the race will pass without serious trouble.
Quoted by Cary in The Telegraph
, former Bahraini politician Jasim Husain – who represented the opposition group Al-Wefaq before quitting in protest at last year's demonstrations – said there was concern about what might happen.
"I don't see lots of protests throughout the country, especially outside the vicinity of the racing area,” he said. "But yes, there is this fear, the fear is there that we could see some casualties. So it's now a challenge for the security forces who have to handle things properly. They should avoid using force.
"Of course, people should be free to express their views, but the responsibility is with the authorities who have to show professionalism in managing any protest. The good thing is people are peaceful, protesters are peaceful, that violence is not really any particular part of the political challenge in the country. But things have to be handled properly by the authorities."
Husain also expressed concern that the use of banners by the ruling regime stating 'UniF1ed – One Nation in Celebration' appeared to show that F1 was supporting the current rulers, with the race being used to suggest to the watching world that there is no cause for concern.
“It should not be presented this way," he said. "F1 is a sport, an economic positive, and I hope neither side will see the race as a political tool. We do have political issues which have to be addressed, and F1 coming or not coming does not mean those problems will go away.
"But certainly this is not a political event and should not have political implications. However, we are suffering from this problem because it is being presented this way. People are simply pressing for democratic reforms, and ensuring there is equal opportunity for all, to have real participation in decision making."