F1 handed Bahrain more than just a propaganda victory

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Start, Bahrain, 2012F1 gave the Bahrain regime a propaganda victory from the moment they arrived in F1 to put on a race billed as “UniF1ed – one nation in celebration”, until they left the circuit, passing banners bearing the new legend “UniF1ed – we did it!”

Last year the Bahrain royal family shelled out ??25m ($40m) for a race that never happened after pro-democracy protests were brutally suppressed. This year they were determined to get their money’s worth.

Eyeing a pay day estimated at $220m, much of which will filter its way back to them, the ruling royal family could afford to spare no expense when it came to security.

Those who came to race, and more importantly those who came to write about it, were cocooned in a Truman Show world into which Bahrain’s pro-democracy protesters could not intrude.

Clearly, some preferred life that way. The day after Bahraini protester Salah Abbas Habib Musa was found dead in a nearby village, Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost lavished praise on those running F1 for keeping them from being inconvenienced:

“I want to thank his royal highness prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa crown prince, the FIA, its president Jean Todt as well as Bernie Ecclestone and the organisers, especially their chairman Zayed Alzayani for their work in ensuring this race took place. From our perspective, we encountered no problems, neither at the race track nor in Manama.”

Manipulating the media

The transparently manipulative PR tactics of the Bahrain government provide further evidence of how F1 was used to push a politically convenient view of the country. Those who came to report on Formula 1 were allowed in. Those who came to report on the country, by and large, were not.

After the race Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley – whose own team members witnessed a petrol bomb attack – insisted that “the Bahraini authorities… have laid themselves bare to the world’s media. If that is not transparency, what is?”

In fact, they did nothing of the sort. The Bahrain government plainly wanted to restrict journalists to writing about how wonderful their race was and nothing else.

That much was made clear when a member of the ruling family and government spokesman Sheikh Abdul-Aziz bin Mubarak al-Khalifa tried to peddle the “transparency” line to one of the very news organisations his country had attempted to shut out:

The Bahrainis blocked the attempts of journalists to report the real situation in the country, while cosying up to those who kept their eyes fixed on the track.

But even those who tried to ask questions they thought the authorities would approve of were censured for not being sufficiently sycophantic.

Those media outlets which wished to see both sides of the story sent their F1 reporters beyond the confines of the paddock. It created friction between those who had seen what the Bahrainis wanted them to see, and those who had been out the examine the country for themselves.

“I like those who criticise journalists doing their job from the beach in Dubai and one, incredibly, who thought was all quiet from Starbucks,” said The Times’s Kevin Eason, the latter remark seemingly directed at an article by Joe Saward.

“They should be ashamed that they call themselves journalists. They treat the word with great disrespect. Apologist perhaps.”

F1 supports the Bahrain regime

Ferrari demonstration, 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix,In light of the Bahrain regime’s blatant attempts to manipulate reportage of the event, claims by those in F1 that the media “politicised” the race don’t hold water.

F1′s presence was not wholly negative – it gave wider attention to the protesters and a chance to make their voices heard. But it was of far greater value to their oppressors, both in presenting a misleading view of life returning to normal in Bahrain, and in lining their pockets – all those security forces need paying for, of course.

The backing of F1 acts as an inducement for the Bahraini government to continue stalling the reforms its people are crying out for. By its complicity F1 endorsed the governemnt’s policy of repression.

If those responsible for the sport – be it Jean Todt, Bernie Ecclestone, the team owners or their employees – choose to believe otherwise, or insist it was merely a media creation, they are deluding themselves. To the rulers of Bahrain, the media were just another inconvenience to be manipulated.

F1 put on pretty little show without questioning why it was there or what its presence was being used for and spent a weekend in the service of a cruel and oppressive regime.

After the race

It remains to be seen where Bahrain will go from this. The hunger striker whose appeal was, quite cynically, scheduled for the day after the race, faces another delay in his hearing.

The authorities say they will investigate the protester’s death. A doctor who inspected they body unofficially found “shotgun pellet wounds, broken bones, friction burns and other injuries”.

Predictably, Bernie Ecclestone is adamant next year’s race will go ahead and the Grand Prix will remain on the calendar “forever”.

During the weekend Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn asked for a debate on their presence in Bahrain: “We are here now, and after this event we need to sit down and discuss it.”

Further developments over the next 12 months will be covered here.

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128 comments on F1 handed Bahrain more than just a propaganda victory

  1. Lotus49 (@lotus49) said on 25th April 2012, 13:12

    A brave and illuminating article Keith. Now watch your back!

    • AJ (@aj13) said on 25th April 2012, 15:28

      @Keith Collantine “Further developments over the next 12 months will be covered here.”

      Good on you Keith

      Great Article. I’m sure Bernie Ecclestone hopes that everyone will put the events of this weekend to the back of their minds and resume F1 as usual.

      This appears to play into his modus operandi. Soon September will be upon us, a provisional calendar for next year will be published and before any opposition can organize themselves, Bahrain will be on the 2012 calendar.

      Once it’s on the calendar we’re back on the same old treadmill where the only people who can call it off except for safety reasons are the promoters.

      I was reading this week, that the BBC is to begin negotiations in 2013 with the R&A over the next TV contract to cover the open. The current one expires in 2016. Sensible organizations give themselves time to discuss and debate matters so that time deadlines don’t become dominant.

      But this isn’t how Bernie operates. I was sat with a team boss in Jerez this year and he explained to me how the negotiations traditionally go. Bernie will go to a top team and offer them a deal, a deal better than the others will get but it’s only available (allegedly) for a short period of time, then he’ll go elsewhere.
      So of course, the teams act in their own interest and fall for this old Sales trick.

      Take the present Concorde agreement. It expires at the end of this year. We heard in Australia that most teams had signed up, well in fact this is not true. Mercedes F1 (backed by global car manufacturing giant) have not signed the Concorde agreement knowing it is vital to Mr. Ecclestone’s plans to float F1 with a mooted valuation of $10bn.

      The teams should have stuck together with FOTA (or whatever they want to call it) and been organising themselves 12 months ago. At the time of the signing of the last agreement, a number of teams threatened to form a breakaway “World Championship Grand Prix Series” and at the 11th hour a deal was struck.

      Surely there are better ways to run such a global sport. The interesting part of all this, is that if the teams did stick the metaphorical 2 fingers up the Bernie, his FOM company would be worthless. So that $10bn payday would be a $0 payday. Ecclestone has the commercial rights to the F1 brand alone, a series by another name would leave him out in the cold.

      When you consider the FOM paid a $1.5bn dividend last year, there’s more going to them than the teams and the FIA.

      When are the teams going to wise up. They should sign a 2 year extension to the present agreement and use the time wisely to get themselves organized. If they sign and 8 year agreement (Concorde agreements are usually 4-5 years) the opportunity to reclaim some of their birthright will be gone for a long long time, and we’ll be back in Bahrain before you know it.

      • AJ (@aj13) said on 25th April 2012, 15:29

        sorry 2013 calendar

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 26th April 2012, 3:50

        @aj13, yes indeed and it is not just teams that are being robbed of the income they alone generate it is us the fans that are being robbed, robbed of the opportunity to see racing between cars made as fast as modern technology will allow, development is curtailed by spending limits and development bans, not for the teams but so FOM can take all that money out of the industry without bankrupting the teams. Without the FOM drain on finances, the teams could share the extra income and use it to produce better engines,chassis and tyres. We get bread and circus’ while Bernie gets caviar and castles.

    • Villeneuve27 said on 25th April 2012, 21:16

      Brave and informative? It falls apart right from the title – no way was this past weekend a propaganda victory for Bahrain! Hell, this article actually proves the fact.

      • Hotbottoms (@hotbottoms) said on 25th April 2012, 23:46

        Exactly. The Bahrain regime has never had a reputation this bad. No one cared about the protests in Bahrain until F1 came there. Of course F1 came into Bahrain for money and nothing else, but nevertheless it’s hypocritical to blame that Bahrain GP wasn’t a PR victory for the opposition.

  2. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 25th April 2012, 13:29

    I didn’t watch the race. I was ashamed of the sport and I still am now. I just hoped that someone, anyone, in the sport would speak out about the situation, but alas.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th April 2012, 14:27

      @magnificent-geoffrey Mark Webber came closest:

      I’m looking forward to getting on a plane. It’s time to go back to Europe. Yeah, I am pleased the weekend is over. There should be no real celebrations today. We can leave. We saw the size of the crowd today.

    • Villeneuve27 said on 25th April 2012, 21:19

      So what now? Will those people who boycotted the race be boycotting the rest of the season? Or do their morals only stretch so far as boycotting the “evil dictatorship supporting FIA” for one weekend?

      • Daniel Thomas (@iamdanthomas) said on 25th April 2012, 23:18

        It’s not the FIA people were boycotting but the single race in Bahrain. There’s nothing wrong with the FIA racing in Italy and the USA, for example.

        It’s a shame that the FIA were so blind and insensitive as to keep the race on, but what can anyone do about that?

        • Solo (@solo) said on 26th April 2012, 19:18

          Well USA killed a lot more people that the Bahrain government did. And a not talking about the past. So why isn’t there anything wrong?
          They have people in cells with no trial or charges. That is against human rights isn’t?

        • vjanik said on 27th April 2012, 10:16

          Daniel,

          The USA is supporting the Bahrain royal family in case you didnt notice. Their fifth fleet has its main port in Bahrain, and it is against their interest to have a democratic government. because then the Shia majority would not want the US navy in their country.

          So whoever thinks that all of this is just an isolated issue is dead wrong. the USA have a major role in this. Your comment shows how powerful the media can be in shaping people’s view of the world, in spite of the facts.

          And leaving Bahrain for a while, the US government is responsible for more deaths in the past half a century than any other country/dictator. Their war on terror is the biggest paradox you can think of. Its aim is supposed to be to protect the world from terrorists. But by invading other countries and supporting dictators throughout the world, they are actually increasing terror (both theirs and that of retaliation). Just shows that reducing terror is not their true aim. (please bear in mind that i am talking about the US government controlled by the corporate sector, not the US people)

          So the examples you give for a non-controversial race shows how deluded we all are.

  3. Vettèl said on 25th April 2012, 13:32

    Ok, can we drop the whole “guilty liberal, Bahrain is a bad place ruled by evil people and we should be upset about it” routine? we get it, Keith. You, and the sensationalist media that has surrounded this event, have made it into something much more than it is. I suggest you leave your yellow-journalism to those who actually attended the race and experienced Bahrain firsthand. Joe Saward gives a much clearer picture of the whole matter, in my opinion. I suggest you start with him.

    • Nigel1 said on 25th April 2012, 13:44

      “yellow journalism” ?
      How frightfully 19th century of you.

      For the recored, I think both Joe Saward and Kevin Eason (surprisingly) did a decent job of journalism in Bahrain. There is no single ‘truth’ in these matters, and I value diverse opinions.

    • Girts (@girts) said on 25th April 2012, 13:59

      I’m afraid I cannot agree with you. One can, of course, say that 1) Actions of journalists like Kevin Eason were provocative 2) These journalists didn’t possess the background and knowledge that’s needed to report on the political situation in Bahrain, which is undoubtedly more complex than it often seems from the headlines. But that doesn’t change the fact that Bahraini authorities acted like authorities of a typical dictatorship and that what’s happening in Bahrain now isn’t exactly ‘business as usual’.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th April 2012, 14:18

      I’m not going to waste much time responding to someone who distorts what I write into something that’s easier to argue against.

      Suffice it to say I’m not sure why you think I need telling to read an article I’ve referred two twice in the past 48 hours.

    • damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 25th April 2012, 17:14

      Joe Saward has lost every ounce of credibility he ever may have had. I highly recommend you read this, @KeithCollantine .

      • Maciek (@maciek) said on 25th April 2012, 18:39

        Thanks for posting that @damonsmedley A very interesting – and damning – read indeed.

        • Bernieslovechild said on 26th April 2012, 10:46

          Read that yesterday. People need to realise that ranting is one thing, but doing something is even better.

          I will not click on Joe’s links again and deny him my website visit count, which will deny him a tiny % of advertsing revenue.

          Yesterday I went to buy a shirt. Instead of my regular Hugo Boss fix, I chose something else and tweeted #hugoboss and told them so and why.

      • dysthanasiac (@) said on 25th April 2012, 19:08

        @damonsmedley

        I must admit that I had a lot of fun laying into Joe Saward on his blog over the weekend. I’d always thought him to be egregiously pretentious and a very poor journalist, but I was never quite sure if that was a reflection of reality or if it was simply because something about him rubbed me the wrong way. It’s nice to finally see that it wasn’t at all an issue of perception.

        I was utterly shocked to see just how easily this grown-ass man was led astray by forces who had absolutely no interest in the truth, and I was saddened by the praise he received from people who obviously neither have nor want a clue. However, I was very amused that it only took one or two hard questions for him to feel cornered and find the need to resort to incredulity and name-calling. To me, that says it all.

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 25th April 2012, 22:05

        @damonsmedley, thanks for the link. I think Saward can be a good sleuth when it comes to what’s happening in business dealings behind the scenes in F1, but he was clearly manipulated quite easily in this instance by the “Truman Show” bubble that @keithcollantine referred to above. Highly disappointing.

        The fact that largely the entire established world of legitimiate journalistic agencies were denied entry to the country should be enough to put every single thing we read over the weekend in a very suspicious light. Those who bought into the rose-tinted accounts of the proceedings are either ignorant or incredibly naïve.

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 26th April 2012, 4:01

          “either ignorant or incredibly naive ” or know how to brown-nose their way into the GLAMOROUS world of F1, parties, hookers, yachts and maybe an inside tip from Bernie.

      • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 26th April 2012, 21:27

        Thanks @damonsmedley
        To me the gist of Joe’s article wasn’t everything is totally normal, but more like hey guys, there’s a third party – a silent majority.
        Now, Joe has been fooled by people who were indeed plants from the government side. But still, I think there must be a silent majority.

        Earlier I recalled the role of my people (dutch) in WWII: while I learned at school that ‘almost everybody was part of the resistance’, I learned later that even more people had collaborated with the Germans to send as much Jews to the kamps as possible. But even a lot later, I learned that the vast majority of the people just tried to live on. This third group is the morally tricky one in these situations. By living on you are possibly a silent supporter of the situation. But as a father of one kid and another on her way, I can understand it.

        Now, for the record, the event was made politic and should’ve been cancelled as soon as the UniF1ed slogan appeared. And for the rest I maintain my view that not going for another reason than the politisation would’ve been a very tricky, sliding slope.

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 25th April 2012, 18:18

      Mark Webber was there too, wasn’t him? Coming from a driver who is among the most “protected” people on the ground makes it even more disturbing. A Formula One GP weekend is suppose to be a festive occasion otherwise it’s pointless to stage a race.

    • Dev (@dev) said on 25th April 2012, 20:29

      Joe is a worst kind of liar you’d meet. 0 credibility.

    • Pamphlet (@pamphlet) said on 25th April 2012, 20:50

      Have to agree, especially now that a person over on the F1Rejects forums who seemingly attended the race agrees with you. MASSIVELY blown out of proportion, to the point where I, like some journalists, am starting to think that there really is a “silent majority” in Bahrain.

      • bernieslovechild said on 25th April 2012, 22:42

        Yeah right – 35 dead in 1 year. I guess they’re pretty silent de facto.

        Crown Prince compared UK riots as a similar situation. Der zero dead in the UK.

        • Pamphlet (@pamphlet) said on 26th April 2012, 1:47

          One person every 10 days? Not exactly successful then, and only proves my point.

          • HoHum (@hohum) said on 26th April 2012, 4:24

            In every dictatorship/kingdom there is an influential group of citizens for whom everything is rosy, in Bahrain it is about one third of the population, the Sunnis, these are not bad people, just afraid that change will be bad for them, fellow fanatic LAK would be a good example,( no doubt he enjoyed the race watching from the main grandstand ) among the remaining population there will be people who will gain little and worry they may lose the limited privileges they have worked so hard for, they may be silent but they are not a majority. I have written before and will write again this whole situation is unfortunate and unnecessary, of all the Arab states Bahrain was the most advanced and civilized. Had the Govt. not reacted so brutally and unjustly to the peaceful demonstrations of a year or so ago we could all have enjoyed this race with a clear conscience, after all from Magna Carta to a constitutional monarchy took Britain many centuries.

          • dysthanasiac (@) said on 26th April 2012, 4:38

            One of Mr. Saward’s interviewees, Yaqoub al-Slaise, is a member of a Sunni organization whose …youth faction…Sahwat Al Fatih, which has called for harsh crackdowns on demonstrations, celebrated the anniversary of the counterrevolution this year by teaching followers “new ways to insult Shiites,” according to Slaise. Bahrain’s prime minister recently lauded the new movement’s “unwavering, solid stances in defending the country’s unity and integrity from any damage.”

            http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2012/0422/Bahrain-F1-race-How-a-Sunni-backlash-kept-an-uprising-at-bay

            I think poor reporting on both sides of this issue – that does not include the CSM piece I just referenced – is making a mockery of what’s going on in Bahrain. That said, I think it’s reasonable to assume that this has been the goal of the Bahraini PR machine since Day One.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th April 2012, 8:33

            @pamphlet Is this really what the argument in favour of the race has come to now? The rate of deaths among the protesters isn’t high enough for you? Disgraceful.

  4. Xenon2 (@xenon2) said on 25th April 2012, 13:43

    Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt started off by calling the reports of protests hype that was made-up by unscrupulous journalists. When it became undeniable that the protests were real the line was that there are protests everywhere around the world and these are just the same. Finally Bernie suggested that they had actually done the protestors a favour by giving them a platform for protest. So a shift from ‘there are no protests’ to ‘we help the protests’ in 3 days. I think only Bernie or a notable dictator could get away with this remarkable shift of position. Fortunately F1 doesn’t do politics! Everybody in the paddock either kept their mouths shut or echoed Bernie’s view.

    • Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 26th April 2012, 14:00

      @xenon2

      That is exactly how I saw it. In fact, they also insisted that everyone was fine and 100% safe, and that the incident involving Force India staff (the Molotov cocktail) was nothing to worry about. Bernie even said “I’ll drive you to your hotel if you like.. ” – haha; Just childish, ignorant and inconsiderate.

      My message to Bernie:

      ————
      Dear Bernie,

      The probability for a randomly thrown petrol bomb to fall within a particular region is derived by the integral of the probability density function over that region. One can not predict the exact position where the petrol bomb lands. Furthermore, the more one knows about the exact position of a displaced petrol bomb, the less one can deduce information about how fast it is going and the exact direction that it is going. To say otherwise would defy the very laws of nature and the general Uncertainty principle.

      Regards,

      Maksutov
      —————-

  5. PJ (@pjtierney) said on 25th April 2012, 13:50

    “forever”? The only other race that gets that tag is Monaco.

    Strong words from Mr. E. indeed.

  6. katederby (@katederby) said on 25th April 2012, 13:54

    From the moment the “UniF1ed – one nation in celebration” slogan was announced it was apparent that the event would be and was, political. F1 has been used and it’s already dubious reputation for being obsessed with money has only been enhanced.
    How anyone at the race, tv or official can state there was nothing out of the ordinary surprises me when we’ve seen the images of burning tyre smoke from just outside the circuit.
    Thanks Keith for stating your opinion and airing it here.

    • Girts (@girts) said on 25th April 2012, 14:17

      I think that F1 is simply too big and too moneyed to be completely apolitical. Bernie, Todt & Co certainly haven’t increased their credibility by pretending that it’s not the case.

  7. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 25th April 2012, 13:59

    Eyeing a pay day estimated at $220m

    I don’t get this. Doesn’t staging a Grand Prix cost an enormous amount of money (especially when no spectators show up)?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th April 2012, 14:20

      It does but it also raises money within the local economy – and Bahrain gets more than most. The average local economic impact of an F1 race is estimated at $101m, according to Formula Money, which is where the figure in the article is from, too.

      • So an F1 race with empty grandstands in a rioting country still brings thousands of (invisible) tourists who spend $200mln? Twice the average? Are you fking kiddin’ me?

        • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 25th April 2012, 21:20

          I imagine sponsorship plays a big part in that.

        • Villeneuve27 said on 25th April 2012, 21:34

          Totally agree, Keith’s figures are complete out of date and context. Hospitality was very quiet with a number of major sponsors not even bothering. There just wasn’t the international attendance there usually is and therefore there wasn’t the cash injection into the local economy.

          • Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta) said on 25th April 2012, 21:49

            Hospitality is usually paid for well in advance. It may even have been cheaper this way because they wouldn’t have spent money on things like food that weren’t needed, once it became clear that many people were staying away for the duration.

            The economy didn’t get the funding from this event, but F1 has attracted things like a WEC sportscar race (due to happen in October), which is likely to get a better attendance from neighbouring countries than “formula” racing. A full calculation of F1′s value to Bahrain can’t just include the F1 – it would have to include a portion of the other events the relationship engendered with the FIA creates, plus the improved international impression Bahrain got/wanted. In some ways, the race itself is a loss leader.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th April 2012, 8:38

            There just wasn’t the international attendance there usually is

            I’d like to see the figures you’re referring to here, if you have any. But I’ll point out the entire F1, GP2 and Porsche Supercup cavalcade was there (minus a few broadcasters and one Supercup team) and GP2 are there for another week.

            Of course the figure I quoted was an estimate based on past events. Until we get further hard data we can only make educated guesses on what the total was for this year. But I expect it will still be a significant sum.

        • Alfred (@afya) said on 26th April 2012, 5:36

          maybe thousands of reporters, journalisms, etc, etc. haha

  8. Nigel1 said on 25th April 2012, 14:35

    As an illustration of why holding a GP in Bahrain means dealing with the regime, here’s a list (not exhaustive) of public office holders in Bahrain.
    Note the family names (well, name actually):

    Prime Minister
    Khalifa ibn Salman Al Khalifa (Uncle of King Hamad)
    Minister of Foreign Affairs
    Khalid ibn Ahmad Al Khalifah
    Minister of Defence
    Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa
    Minister of Interior
    Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa
    Minister of Information
    Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa
    Minister of Finance
    Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa
    Minister of Justice & Islamic Affairs
    Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa
    Minister of Culture
    Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa
    Minister of Transport (also Deputy Prime Minister)
    Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa
    Minister of the Royal Court
    Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa
    Minister of the Royal Court for Followup Affairs
    Ahmed bin Ateyatalla Al Khalifa
    Minister of Royal Court Affairs
    Ali bin Isa Al Khalifa
    Deputy Prime Minister for Ministerial Committees
    Muhammad ibn Mubarak ibn Hamad Al Khalifah
    Deputy Prime Minister
    Khalid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa
    Minister of State for Defence Affairs
    Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa
    Supreme Commander of Armed Forces
    Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (King)
    Deputy Supreme Commander of Armed Forces
    Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (Crown Prince)
    Chief of Staff of Bahrain Defence Force
    Duaij bin Salman Al Khalifa
    Advisor to Prime Minister for Security Affairs
    Abdulaziz bin Ateyatallah Al Khalifa
    Chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council
    Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (King)
    Chief Justice of Bahrain (President of the Court of Cassation)
    Khalifa bin Rashid Al Khalifa
    Commander of the National Guard
    Mohammed bin Isa Al Khalifa (brother of King Hamad)
    National Guard Staff Director
    Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al Khalifa
    Commander of the Royal Bahraini Air Force
    Hamad bin Abdullah Al Khalifa
    Director of the National Security Agency
    Khalifa bin Abdullah Al Khalifa

    • sketchyterry (@sketchyterry) said on 25th April 2012, 14:49

      Wow thats crazy and not good…

    • LosD (@losd) said on 25th April 2012, 14:53

      While I in general despise the lies going from Bahrain, this is equal manipulation: You take a list of Barhraini family members in government, and make it look like an almost-complete list of government, only mentioning that it is “(not exhaustive)”.

      This whole list is a copy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Khalifa#In_public_office skipping the last 10 entries.

      • dirgegirl (@dirgegirl) said on 25th April 2012, 15:20

        Oh come on, it is not equal manipulation. The list includes the main seats of power, not roles like “under-secretary for pavements”. If there were that many members of the same family in similar positions of power in the UK (pop.: 62 million) there would be outrage at the nepotism.

        • LosD (@losd) said on 25th April 2012, 16:17

          Oh, I agree that it is nepotism of the worst kind.

          But copying a list exclusively made up of Al Khalifa public office holders, and painting it as a general list of office holders IS equal manipulation of facts to the Bahraini governments lies (of course on a much smaller scale, since he is only one).

          • Nigel1 said on 25th April 2012, 16:25

            I repeat the question: which significant offices of state are missing ?

            Note the list also includes the leaders of the armed forces, the intelligence and security chiefs and the head of the judiciary.

            Is there a Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and does someone other than an Al Khalifa head it ?

            Truly, I’m curious.

      • Nigel1 said on 25th April 2012, 15:48

        If you want to clue me in to the significant offices of state that are missing from the list, I’d be most grateful.

        Oh, and apologies for missing out the owner of the Bahrain circuit – also an Al Khalifa, I think.

        • LosD (@losd) said on 25th April 2012, 16:19

          I can’t, but if you look at the same article your copied your list from (you know, the one your painted as a general list, knowing that it was a list of Al Khalifas in government), you’ll read that about half the offices are occupied by the Al Khalifas.

          • Nigel1 said on 25th April 2012, 16:29

            OK, here’s the rest I left out from the same article. Seem to be quite a few Al Khalifas in there:

            Ambassador to London
            Khalifa bin Ali bin Rashid Al Khalifa
            Commander of the Royal Guard
            Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa (son of King Hamad)
            Chairman of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs
            Abdullah bin Khalid Al Khalifa
            Chairman of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sport
            Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa (son of King Hamad)
            First Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sport
            Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa (son of King Hamad)
            Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sport
            Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa
            President of the Bahrain Olympic Committee
            Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa (son of King Hamad)
            Secretary General of the Bahrain Olympic Committee
            Ahmed bin Hamad Al Khalifa (son of King Hamad)
            CEO of the Bahrain Olympic Committee
            Khalid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa
            President of the Bahrain Royal Equestrian and Endurance Federation
            Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa (son of King Hamad)

            Other notable members
            ▪ Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, crown prince and chief of the Bahrain Defence Force.
            ▪ Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, prime minister of Bahrain (16 December 1971 – ), son of Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa (Emir, 1941–1961) and brother of Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa (Hakim, 1961–1971; Emir, 1971–1999). The current King, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, is his nephew.
            ▪ Shaikh Rashid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, prominent Bahraini artist and patron of the arts.
            ▪ Mohammed bin Salman Al Khalifa, brother of Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa (Hakim, 1961–1971; Emir, 1971–1999) and Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa (prime minister since 1971).
            ▪ Mai Al Khalifa, culture minister.
            ▪ Meriam Al-Khalifa, a relative of the King, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa; married Jason Johnson, a United States Marine and a Mormon, against her family’s wishes and moved to the United States. They subsequently filed for a divorce on 11-17-2004, one day after their fifth wedding anniversary.

          • AJ (@aj13) said on 25th April 2012, 17:00

            Bloody Hell. If they’ve all got 3 or 4 wives and 4 or 5 kids per wife…then there’s the cousins, aunties, uncles, grandparents et al…… WOW! that’s half the population of Bahrain.

      • Nigel1 said on 25th April 2012, 16:52

        A little more digging gives a bit more information.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Bahrain
        “Bahrain has had only one Prime Minister since the country’s independence in 1971, Khalifah ibn Sulman al-Khalifah, the uncle of the reigning King Hamad ibn Isa al-Khalifah.”

        To be fair, in February 2011, a number of cabinet posts were given to non family members in response to the protests last year.
        Not as impressive as the family list above, but I guess it represents progress of a sort:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabinet_of_Bahrain
        Minister of Shura Council and Parliament Affairs
        Minister of Industry and Commerce
        Minister of Housing
        Minister of Education
        Minister of Labour
        Minister of Energy
        {Oil and Gas, Electricity and Water)
        Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs
        Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
        Minister of Health
        Minister of Municipal Affairs and Urban Planning

        Not impressed by Bahrain’s judicial arrangements:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judiciary_of_Bahrain
        “Judges of the middle and lower courts are nominated by the Ministry of Justice and appointed by decree by the prime minister. The Supreme Judicial Council, chaired by the King, appoints the members of the Constitutional Court.
        Many of the high-ranking judges in Bahrain are either members of the ruling family or non-Bahrainis (mainly Egyptians) with 2-year renewable contracts. To secure renewal of these contracts, judges may be prone to consider it necessary to take decisions not unfavourable to the wishes or interests of the Government….”

      • Nigel1 said on 25th April 2012, 18:06

        And of course, I forgot to add:
        Sheikh Abdulla bin Isa Al Khalifa
        President of the Automobile Federation of Bahrain and member of the FIA’s World Motor Sports Council
        http://www.fia.com/en-GB/the-fia/governance/Documents/wmsc-2010.pdf

        It is quite hard to argue that motorsport in Bahrain isn’t politicised when the same family that controls the government also owns the grand prix circuit and sits on the 26 member FIA governing body.

        It would be a like us having Queen Elizabeth Ecclestone; Prime Minister David Ecclestone; Chancellor George Ecclestone; Home Secretary Theresa Ecclestone; General Sir David Ecclestone; Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Ecclestone; Dame Stella Ecclestone of MI5 and Lord Chief Justice Ecclestone… to name but a few.

    • AJ (@aj13) said on 25th April 2012, 15:46

      I believe a certain B. Ecclestone is Minister of Public Relations

    • Andrew M said on 25th April 2012, 18:04

      I think we all knew that Bahrain wasn’t a democracy. Then again nor is China. (Oh I’ve gone and done it again.)

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 25th April 2012, 18:20

      NEPOTISM!

  9. FlyingLobster27 said on 25th April 2012, 14:48

    And now Bernie himself says that the UniF1ed slogan was a bad idea… (French article)

    UniF1ed – One Nation in Manipulation.

  10. egsgeg said on 25th April 2012, 14:58

    What a terribly agenda driven article. Seems to me a lot of people are pretty tired of this site and how it goes out of its way to portray one side of the story.

    Very ironic article, considering it IS propaganda itself. I’m guessing for a British agency? Perhaps you can tell us.

    I was staying up to date on the situation the entire weekend, and I was amazed how nothing actually happened. One protester was killed on a roof. Apparently by the government. Some say he was killed by the Queen of England herself (see how easy it is to make false statements? Something this site LOVES TO DO).

    What is really sad is that many readers and Keith himself wanted more people to die and a lot more violence to occur so that their points would be proven. However the opposite happened. It turns out Keith had been crying wolf the entire time. And now that their face has been rubbed in it, they are using what little bits they can find, like ONE death and a molotov, repeating it over and over as if those are MASSIVE things. The truth is that a death during a mass protest is completely normal. The British had their protests and more people were assaulted by the security forces than in Bahrain.. lol. Guess we should just ignore that because Britain is already a democracy…

    • Maciek (@maciek) said on 25th April 2012, 15:30

      Dang, I wanted to write a spoof entry, but I’ll never top that.

    • HewisLamilton said on 25th April 2012, 16:09

      I think egsgeg, that it is simple for Keith to report the facts.
      What I think is assinine is people who prefer to bury their head in the sand, justify the murder of a protestor or maybe the mistreating of a journalist and say that it’s all media sensationalism.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th April 2012, 20:15

      agenda driven article

      It’s a comment piece, so naturally it expresses my point of view.

      That’s why it says “Comment” in big letters at the top and then, at the bottom, has a list of the five most recent comment articles, all of which are quite easily distinguished by the fact that the headlines express a particular point of view.

      see how easy it is to make false statements? Something this site loves to do

      Normally when people accuse me of getting something wrong they point out what it is in order that I can correct it. In the absence of this, you leave me to assume this is a false statement of your own.

      Keith himself wanted more people to die and a lot more violence to occur so that their points would be proven

      That is an appalling, disgusting and completely untrue claim. I certainly did not want anything of the kind and that goes for all concerned – protesters, police and participants in the race weekend.

    • Riffa said on 25th April 2012, 22:29

      It’s pretty darn easy to see who are real race fans and who are the posers. It’s also easy to see who the racers are. You know, the ones who work on their machine all week and then slap the money down and race for real. People who race do not take something like this lightly. No matter the racing discipline, the Bahrain race was a total disgrace to ALL racing. And if you don’t think so then you are not a fan, and you have never raced. Keith wrote an article true to form. This is NOT a hair splitting issue. The race should never have been ran and it hurt F1 and ALL of racing. I am severely disgusted at those who say it is a non issue and that it should be swept under a rug. Those who have, care little about racers, the people who organize races and how the world views all of us as fans and racers. I was on the fence about F1 after this race and I voiced it. I got hammered by a couple of bozo’s who felt more the need to tear into me than address the issue. And the little they did address the issue was not in line with being a true fan nor racer. It ****** me off so bad I knew I was gonna unload on em. Rather than do that, I let it tip me over the fence the direction they wanted me to fall, and I canceled my account. Keith produces the best F1 site on the web by far and damn near single handedly. It was not fair to him that I canceled, but I am not gonna get in to a battle of wits with a bunch of unarmed opponents. I’m so ****** right now at those who take this issue as a nothing to F1 and the racing community. For those who wish to sweep this under the rug, you are null and voided in my eyes. You don’t have a leg to stand on, and this issue will be resolved by people in this sport who realize what has happened rather than a bunch of hacks lettin their ****** overload their mouths and just want to move onto the next race like nothing happened. F1 is in damage control and you kiddies can go play till the next race and let the grownups do what must be done to make sure racers and races are respected and LIKED, and not viewed under the light the world is currently viewing it under. Just pathetic.

  11. d3v0 (@d3v0) said on 25th April 2012, 16:03

    Who are we as F1 fans to criticize the actions of a sovereign government already committed to reforms. How is one year a delay? The US has taken nearly the entire Obama administratin to pass a health care law reform, which is now being reviewed by our Supreme Court for ultimate constitutionality. Four years and thats for just one sector of government.

    Most people dont know anything about Bahrain and have become armchair human rights activists, which isnt our place as F1 fans.

    However, that being said – F1 SHOULD NOT have gone to Bahrain this year. Both sides politicized the event, and it was an opportunity for each to manipulate the popularity of it for their own gains. This is unacceptable. While no one was seriously in danger save an isolate incident, the political goals of BOTH sides -where premeditated- cannot coincide with a race.

    That is not to say that if there was no UniF1ed slogan, or no planned F1 protests (no blood for F1 or whatever) that the race would have been fine. If the FIA/Bernie were unaware of the political usage of the event, then it could have gone on. But because they were on notice that it certainly was being pushed through as the weapon of political agendas on both sides, it should have been postponed, and later cancelled if necessary.

    • phildick (@phildick) said on 25th April 2012, 17:02

      @d3v0 So you say than an F1 fan can no longer be a human rights advocate? Even in his/her armchair? I have signed a lot of AI petitions sitting at my desk ;)

      And if there’s a public forum on F1 then we can’t/shouldn’t write about anything else? However… ;)

      And regarding to US laws (badly written and randomly enforced, says a joke): at least US Constitution establishes the freedoms of speech, belief and the right to manifest one’s views. I don’t think the Bahraini one contains those rights, or they clearly haven’t been enforced for some time now.

      • d3v0 (@d3v0) said on 25th April 2012, 21:56

        @phildick while the comparison to US laws is only relevant based on the time frame our slow country makes to change anything – my view is that if it appears that Bahrain is doing nothing, after a REASONABLE period of time (not just 1 yr) and fails to make changes, then there can be opposition from us F1 fanatics haha.

        My argument isnt that you cant be both an F1 fanatic and a human rights advocate. Not at all. Its that we as F1 fanatics are in a position to evaluate all sorts of things to do with F1 – not usually human rights! That’s not to say that someone cannot be experts in both, but it seems like alot of folks are shooting from the hip and calling Bahrain a “regime” as if its led by Saddam Hussein or something.

        • phildick (@phildick) said on 26th April 2012, 14:06

          @d3v0 I agree with you in general, I also see a lot of groundless extremism on both sides of the discussion. I generally restrained myself from giving my views as I didn’t have the time to dig into the human rights report on Bahrain which Keith brilliantly (as always) summed up in one of his pre-race articles.

          On the side note, while the obvious regimes are bound to fall or be isolated (e.g. Iraq, North Korea) I see an obvious, though dangerous tendency of tolerating softer or harder dictatorships which have power, money, resources, but also more or less corruption, nepotism and contempt for obvious human rights (of course I won’t claim that in my country the government et consortes are all squeaky-clean). We can’t fight authorities of China, Russia, Bahrain etc. in the open but it’s good to let them know what we think about it.

    • Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta) said on 25th April 2012, 22:10

      One year is a delay when one notes that the original version of the reforms were promised back in 2002 (the 2011 reforms are the second version). It comes across as foot-dragging, especially when paired with certain other actions taken elsewhere.

  12. damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 25th April 2012, 17:25

    To add to Eason’s/your point about Saward ignoring the “hot-spots”, I was sent this article by a friend. Obviously, whatever a journalist says doesn’t have to be gospel, but you really can’t help but believe him, especially when you see how much evidence is provided.

    I am still completely bewildered by the fact people are still defending Bernie, the FIA and the Bahraini monarchy. The “let’s leave it to people that were there” argument is nonsense. Do we have to have been a prisoner of war that was tortured to have an opinion on the torturers? No. And there was sufficient evidence from witnesses of some pretty shocking events (activists being beaten in front of the detained journalists) for us to make some sort of judgement.

    • d3v0 (@d3v0) said on 26th April 2012, 6:08

      @damonsmedley I think that these coincidental (or not) rendezvous with a few journalists were precisely as depicted by your linked article – then perhaps we should reconsider whether F1 journalists have any place in journalism?

      To assume -as this article does – that someone like Saward or Tremayne are so naive to do a complete about-face – I think is exaggerating the power of persuasion of these “planted” sources as well as underestimating these two vastly experienced journalists to evaluate the credibility of their sources.

  13. Maciek (@maciek) said on 25th April 2012, 17:44

    I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating I think: kudos Keith for keeping your head high – and your punches above the waist, given some of the gutter sludge thrown your way because you express an opinion that goes beyond ‘I want to be entertained, so stop annoying me with other people’s problems’. F1Fanatic is a class act, all the way.

  14. Chris Johnson (@therealcj) said on 25th April 2012, 17:53

    Saward’s blog was laughable. Basically, “I met three guys at a Starbucks and they said everything’s cool here.” To anybody that challenged him, “I was here and you were not, so shut up.” The weekend was a disgrace. All of the so-called “journalists” shouldn’t get a pass because their speciality is sport. Martin Brundle’s comment, “Bahrain has never looked so good” was disgusting. Even if they couldn’t be bothered to leave the track, where was reporting about the absence of spectators, lack of VIPs, etc.? Most F1 reporting has turned into glorified press releases, or gossipy drivel. You can argue that Kevin Eason’s reportage was a bit breathless, but at least he went looking for himself.

  15. walkindude said on 25th April 2012, 18:36

    Just a suggestion.Could all news related to Bahrain over the next months be moved to an Off-F1 section?You could add articles about all the atrocities happening all over the world too there and not just relating to Bahrain.There are racial,ethnic,political and religious issues and violence in the rest of the world too,not least in the west.The site is f1fanatic and f1 news is what should be at the top always.

    • walkindude said on 25th April 2012, 18:37

      Edit :

      Spoke too soon I guess.There is already a seperate place for bahrain related news.

    • Bernieslovechild said on 25th April 2012, 18:53

      Just did quick count. 27 of last 30 articles on this site about just racing etc.

      Here’s a thing which I understand is a little remote and may never have occured to you – why don’t you just not read the the articles going forward with “Bahrain” in the title?

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