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Bahrain Grand Prix: Protests pose no 'direct threat'

Organisers of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix said sporadic protests against the race and unrest in the country do not pose a "direct threat" to the event.

Zayed Alzayani, the chairman of the Bahrain International Circuit, said the security measures put in place at the circuit this week were no different to those for past races.

"We don't feel there is a direct threat to the track nor have we received any threats to the track," Mr Alzayani said. "But we take everything into account. For us, we want to produce an event that is memorable for those who attended".

Preparations are under way at the Bahrain circuit ahead of Sunday's Grand Prix. Credit: REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

He insisted that Sunday's race is a unifying force and that a majority of Bahrainis were backing it.

Ticket sales are up 20 percent over past year with 25,000 fans expected at the race, Mr Alzayani said.

"The race has been endorsed by all members of society, including the opposition. If there are people who are against the race, that is fine. They are entitled to express their opinion within the confines of the law", he added.

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Video: Bahrain protesters allegedly clash with police

Amateur videos posted on a social media website allegedly show protesters and riot police clashing in Bahrain ahead of Sunday's Formula One Grand Prix.

One of the clips, said to be shot in the village of Nuwaidrat, purports to show masked protesters throwing petrol bombs and lighting tyres in a street. A second clip, also said to be filmed in Nuwaidrat, purports to show riot police firing in the street.

ITV News and Reuters cannot verify the content of these video clips:

F1 boss has 'no concerns' about Bahrain Grand Prix

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone rejected pleas for the Bahrain Grand Prix to be cancelled, saying he had "no concerns" that it would become a target for anti-government protesters.

Mr Ecclestone told Reuters last week that he believed the situation in Bahrain had improved.

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone. Credit: James Moy/James Moy Photography/Press Association Images

"I haven't had any negative reports from anybody there," he said. "Somebody who actually lives there came to see me yesterday and said everything's very normal".

"I think they [both sides] are talking now anyway ... so I don't think they'll upset the talks by making protests", he added.

F1 'ignoring' human rights abuses in Bahrain

Bahrain faces international scrutiny as human rights groups accuse the island kingdom of quashing protests. Credit: PA

Formula One organisers are "burying their heads in the sand" and putting the Grand Prix in Bahrain ahead of human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch claimed today.

The group said international racing bodies responsible for scheduling the race, which begins on Sunday, have taken no steps to address human rights violations linked to the event.

"The Formula 1 organisers apparently prefer to bury their heads in the sand, risking holding their race against repression it has provoked."

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch

Bahrain criticised over Formula One protest arrests

Bahrain has been criticised by Amnesty International after several protesters were arrested during demonstrations ahead of Sunday's Formula One race.

We are seeing nothing but crackdowns and token gestures to clean up the country’s image

– Amnesty International statement

The human rights group warned that the Gulf Arab state was inviting a repeat of last year's violent Grand Prix clashes.

Bahrain's state news agency reported last night that a male suspect in custody had confessed to burning a car that had exploded in the country's financial district on April 14.

Four others were arrested in connection with stealing and burning a car and another person was detained over an accusation he blocked a main road and caused damage to a Bahraini's car.

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Bahrain blocks sites showing anti-Islam film

Bahraini medic has jail term cut by nine years

Dr Saeed Al Samahiji, an eye consultant at Salmanya hospital, had his jail sentence reduced from ten to one year today.

He was accused along with several of his colleagues in assisting with last year's uprising against the ruling royal family in Bahrain.

It is not yet clear whether the Bahraini medical professional will actually have to return to jail as he has already spent a considerable amount of time in detention.

He said: "I am ready for my people and my country. They can do whatever they want against me - I will go to jail anywhere for my people."

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