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Formula 1 kicks off in Bahrain amid protests

The 2015 Formula One World Racing Championship kicked off in Bahrain on Friday amid opposition protests calling for the event to be cancelled

17.04.2015
Formula 1 kicks off in Bahrain amid protests

DOHA

The 2015 Formula One World Racing Championship kicked off in Bahrain on Friday amid opposition protests calling for the event to be cancelled and for the release of political detainees in the small Arab monarchy.

The race is expected to last until April 19.

The event began at the Bahrain International Circuit in capital Manama in the presence of a large number of fans, according to Bahrain's official news agency.

The race will be accompanied by a variety of entertainment activities and musical concerts, the news agency added.

Bahrain's February 14 Revolution Youth coalition – which has been designated a "terrorist" entity by the government – also called for the event's cancelation.

The coalition said on Twitter that a number of its members had staged protests in capital Manama against the race.

The opposition Al-Wefaq Society, for its part, said it would stage a major protest in Manama to demand the release of its secretary-general, Ali Salman, who was jailed weeks ago and is now expected to stand trial on April 22.

Bahrain has been rocked by revolt since 2011, when pro-democracy protests erupted in the tiny Gulf state.

The government blames Al-Wefaq for the upheaval, accusing the Shiite group of pursuing an "Iranian agenda."

Al-Wefaq, for its part, denies the allegations, saying it wants to see a "constitutional regime" in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.

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