Alzayani condemns violent Bahrain protests

Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed R Alzayani has condemned as terrorists those who use violence to protest in his country.

Motorsport News: Bahrain Protests

The February 14 Youth Coalition, an underground movement, this week embarked on a week-long campaign entitled 'volcanic flames', as part of their condemnation of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Slickly-produced videos have appeared on YouTube of the protesters blocking main roads with tyres before setting fire to them, sending the ordinary public travelling in their cars scattering to safety.

It is incidents such as those that anger Alzayani.

But the man behind the track that this weekend stages its ninth running of the event has no qualms with those who peacefully call for reform in this troubled Gulf island kingdom.

"I am totally against violence. No matter what cause you have you have no right to disrupt the normal process of life," said Alzayani.

"That is not democracy, that is terrorism. There are no two ways about it.

"Whether you do that hiding behind human rights, politics, religion, it's just wrong to do it.

"The country and the constitution allow people to protest in a civil, non-violent way, and that is being done, which is sanctioned by the police, going from point A to point B at a certain time of the day.

"That happens anywhere in the world, and I have no problem with that.

"But to go along and extend that to blocking roads, burning tyres, or attacking police and civilians, the minute you do that you cross the line.

"You have no right to impose that on others."

After the race was withdrawn from the calendar in 2011 following anti-government demonstrations that led to the deaths of many people, the event last year returned under a cloud.

One person was killed the week before the grand prix, and another during the week itself as police and protesters clashed on a daily basis, as the event went ahead against a taut backdrop.

One year on, and the build up towards the event, and the atmosphere surrounding it, is far less volatile, although protests still occur.

Alzayani appreciates that attention on Bahrain and the race is always likely to be heightened, in particular whilst the protest movement targets an event that is the country's most important in any year.

Alzayani added: "Our job is to make sure the event passes smoothly. We do our part, and whatever happens outside the track, somebody else is responsible for.

"I personally think it's safe to do the race, there is no problem.

"We have five per cent who don't like it, but the majority do, and we cater for the majority.

"I don't see any reason why we should worry about it (the trouble). Obviously, it would be nice not to have it.

"If it's there then we are just going to have to adapt and live with it. We managed to do so last year, and we're back here this year.

"And we'll be here in 2014, '15 and '16, and hopefully onwards."

One human rights activist yesterday claimed that since the race was first staged in 2004 it has run at a loss, and the promised economic returns and infrastructure have failed to materialise.

Alzayani categorically refutes the suggestion, adding: "The intention of the track was never to be a profit-making organisation.

"We know to be in Formula One is very expensive, but our intention has always been to promote Bahrain internationally.

"We've been very successful in doing that judging by the number of viewers of our race, and the exposure of Bahrain as a nation.

"The Grand Prix Development Board has issued an economic study on every race since we started, and the benefits to the economy far exceed what it costs to host the event.

"So whoever says there are no benefits has to look at the macro-picture and not the micro-picture.

"For us, the success of the event is how much it contributes to the nation, not what it brings to the BIC."

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