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Entries in Bahrain Grand Prix (9)


Bahrain (and Beyond) Live: The Protests, the Opposition, and the Grand Prix

See also Yemen 1st-Hand: When the US Drones Attacked My Village
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1540 GMT: Egypt

Minister of Justice Ahmed Mekki has offered his resignation, a day after President Morsi had stated there would be a government reshuffle and two days after thousands of Islamist demonstrators calling for the "purging of the judiciary"

According to judicial sources, Mekki complained about the demonstrations in his resignation statement. He also condemned attempts, led by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party to amend the judicial authority law to decrease the retirement age of judges without taking their view on the issue.

The amendment would mean the forced retirement of more than 3,000 judges.

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Bahrain Audio Feature: Protests, the Grand Prix, and a Gloomy Future --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

I spoke with Monocle 24's The Globalist this morning about this weekend's Formula 1 Grand Prix, protests by some opposition groups, and the political future.

Listen to discussion from 7:40 mark on The Globalist homepage or in a pop-out window

The take-away lines: 1) the regime, unless there is significant pressure, will not carry out reforms; 2) the opposition --- some of which are inside the National Dialogue, some of whom are outside --- are too fragmented to exert this pressure; and 3) the international community, notably the US, will also not be exerting any influence to push the regime beyond the appearance of the Dialogue.


Bahrain Special: How Regime Supporters Used a New York Times Reporter (Again) To Denounce the Opposition

Almost three weeks ago, in a feature and a follow-up, we revealed how three supporters of the Bahraini regime, amidst tension and clashes around the Bahrain Grand Prix, introduced themselves as the "silent majority" to three Formula 1 journalists. The men, with a great deal of success, promoted the monarchy, especially Crown Prince Salman, as the symbol of moderation and reform while characterising protesters as a violent, misguided, Iran-led minority.

Two days before that, we considered how Souad Mekhennet of The New York Times --- allowed, unlike other journalists such as her colleague like Nicholas Kristof, into the country --- proclaimed, "Bahrain Holds Grand Prix, Keeping Protesters at Bay". Indeed, she went farther, portraying the opposition as fragmented, with one faction denouncing another for the use of violence.

But could this propaganda success be extended by merging the two strands? Could Mekhennet, representing America's best-known newspaper, be introduced to people who would reinforce her denunciation of the opposition?

From Tuesday's New York Times, "Losing Faith With Protesters in Bahrain", written by Souad Mekhennet....

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Bahrain Follow-Up: The Regime's PR Mission and Formula 1 Journalist Joe Saward

See also Bahrain Special: How Regime Supporters Became The "Silent Majority" for 3 Foreign Journalists

Any analysis of the political situation in the Kingdom should acknowledge that there are strongly-held views in support of the regime's position and framing of the conflict. The point, which Joe Saward cannot or will not acknowledge, is that these do not necessarily represent the vast majority of Bahrainis. Any  journalist who wants to establish the complexity of opinion across the country --- rather than taking the easy answer of "all is well except for a troublesome group manipulated by Iran" --- would have to do more than drop in for three days and take the assertions of three Bahrainis as the gospel truth for all.

But that is only part of Saward's omission, and thus reduction of the conflict to his "silent majority".

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Bahrain Special: How Regime Supporters Became The "Silent Majority" for 3 Foreign Journalists

A PR Mission: The Starbucks in Juffair where 3 Bahrainis --- "the silent majority" --- converted three foreign journalists

THE FOREIGN JOURNALISTS: David Tremayne, Formula 1 correspondent for The Belfast Telegraph and The Independent of London; Brad Spurgeon of The New York Times; and Joe Saward, who has a leading blog on Formula 1

THE BAHRAINIS: real estate businessman Hasan Emad; university lecturer Yaqoob Salman Mohamed Al-Slaise; and banker Ahmed Al Mahri

THE MISSION: Persuade the three journalists that reports of discontent are exaggerated; that protesters are a troublesome, very small minority; and that the regime will ensure stability and order if media bias can be countered and exposed.

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Bahrain Analysis: Some Guy Wins Grand Prix, Regime Loses Legitimacy

Sunday's Grand Prix (Photo: Reuters)A Grand Prix run "without a hitch"? Not at all. The serious issue now is whether the regime will be successful in reducing the near-future to "just a hitch" which does not impede its legitimacy. The best it can hope for, however, is that media shrug their shoulders with the narrative of a "divided" Bahrain: that at least gives the authorities the Emperor's new clothes of stalwart support from a minority on the island, facing a more dangerous minority (Molotovs. Religious Extremism. Iran.) ---- and thus stability must be assured.<

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Bahrain Special: Regime PR Fails at Home But Succeeds in New York Times

The image accompanying today's New York Times' article on the situation in Bahrain: "A policeman tried to put out fires set by protesters in Budaiya, west of Manama, on Sunday" (Photo: Hamad Mohammed/Reuters)

We have often noted the Bahraini regime's efforts to put out the "right" story since mass protests began in February 2011, but this article from the Gulf Daily News --- posted after a Grand Prix when foreign reporters were turned away at the international airport, subjected to strict security checks, detained, and deported --- may take the prize for breath-taking audacity: "Taste of Bahrain's Hospitality for Foreign Journalists".

A piece which could well be satire --- but isn't --- proclaims: 

FOREIGN journalists who attacked Bahrain for hosting the Formula One race were spotted happily tucking into a free BBQ run by the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC).

Many of them called for the race to be scrapped but were seen enjoying Bahraini hospitality during the "Flavours of Sakhir Bahrain-style BBQ" at the Paddock area on Saturday, which was attended by teams, sponsors, media and other guests.

"There were many of them (foreign journalists) there, who had just weeks ago had been advocating the race should not be held in Bahrain and said they would not be happy at going there," said one journalist, who attended the event.

"They must have realised Bahrain is not the place to miss. Bahrain is certainly not Syria. It's a very hospitable country and life goes on as usual."

Perhaps not the best-measured "news" in the post-barbecue circumstances of Sunday's clashes and arrests. But if the Gulf Daily News has failed, Bahraini officials can celebrate success in a very different outlet --- The New York Times.

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Bahrain Document: Activists Appeal to BBC and Sky Not to Broadcast Grand Prix

A cartoon by Carlos Latuff is converted into a mural in Barbar village

With pressure mounting on Formula One to pull out of the forthcoming Bahrain Grand Prix, activists are beginning to target the organisations around the race. Earlier today, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and other Bahrain activists wrote a letter to the BBC and Sky --- who hold the broadcasting rights for the race --- calling on them not to broadcast the events on moral grounds. Speaking to the Guardian, Dr Ala'a Shehabi said of the campaign:

Formula One is all about advertising, marketing, it's more about the commercial side than the actual sport itself.

So we know that in broadcasting, you're encouraging all of the commercial interests in the sport which puts finance over human rights. That is what the major moral issue is here. If we can target the broadcasters, we can at least cut some of the possibility of profits made from advertising, at least.

The full text of the letter:

April 12 2012

Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC
Jeremy Darroch, Chief Executive, Sky

We are writing to ask you to consider canceling your planned televised coverage of the Formula One race in Bahrain on moral grounds and in consideration of the thousands of victims of state atrocities over the past year. On this small island, 85 people have been killed by security forces, and there are around 600 political prisoners. The majority of the people will not be watching or enjoying the race. In fact they will see it as a provocation.

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Bahrain Propaganda 101: Former Times Editor, Turned PR Man, Tries to Sell the Regime's Grand Prix (Hardigree)

David CracknellDavid Cracknell [is] the former Political Editor of The Sunday Times and current PR consultant for the Government of Bahrain. His company, Big Tent Communications, is one of many hired either directly or through other companies by the Bahraini government to "correct inaccurate reporting" on the situation.

Cracknell's first email to me came on January 11th, completely unsolicited and "on background" in a chummy tone of one journalist talking to another — despite being a consultant paid for by the government....His assessment of the situation was that Bahrain is overwhelmingly peaceful, that scuffles are on par with the rioting in London, and wants journalists to more thoroughly question reports that opposition leaders like Nabeel Rajab are fabricating the tales of abuse that end up in the Western press.

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