FIA reassured Bahrain Grand Prix will be safe
|By Jonathan Noble||Thursday, April 12th 2012, 05:57 GMT|
The FIA has been reassured that Bahrain will be safe for next weekend's grand prix, despite concerns about the situation there.
Ahead of crunch meetings between teams and Formula 1 bosses in China this weekend to discuss whether or not the race goes ahead, FIA president Jean Todt has been told that matters are not as bad as some have portrayed.
In a letter that was sent to him on Wednesday by former UK head of counter terrorism John Yates, Todt was informed that there was no major worry.
Yates, who is an advisor for the Bahrain's Ministry of the Interior, wrote: "I am aware of the very real concerns that those involved in F1 may have regarding the holding of the fixture here in Bahrain next week.
"I have listened to the recent exchanges on the UK BBC Radio 4 Today programme and read related stories in the media with interest. It is clear from this and other reporting that the real picture of life in Bahrain and the very real reforming efforts being made at a number of levels are not reaching the ears of those that matter.
"I am particularly concerned that those intimately involved in F1 - drivers, teams, sponsors, media and supporters wishing to attend – are being presented with a distorted picture. This picture is being shaped by a huge amount of inaccurate and often deliberately false information being spread through social media forums."
Yates did say, however, that there were some troubles in the Gulf state – but these were isolated incidents.
"Some troubles do still exist," he said. "The almost nightly skirmishes that take place in certain villages are a potential block on progress and are putting those involved in their policing and innocent members of the public in significant danger. However, in spite of how these events may be portrayed through the medium of YouTube and other outlets, their significance should not be overplayed.
"These are now lawful protests, which are permitted, but violent conduct by a very small minority – often groups of 15-20 young men. These are criminal acts being perpetrated against an unarmed police force who, in the face of such attacks, are acting with remarkable restraint.
"These people are intent on causing harm to the police and the communities in which they live. They are not representative of the vast majority of delightful, law-abiding citizens that represent the real Bahrain that I see every day. Along with my family, I feel completely safe. Indeed, safer than I have often felt in London."
The letter from Yates came before a statement issued by the White House condemning the violent clashes that have taken place in Bahrain recently.
"The United States continues to be deeply concerned about the situation in Bahrain, and we urge all parties to reject violence in all its forms," White House spokesman Jay Carney was quoted as saying.
"We condemn the violence directed against police and government institutions, including recent incidents that have resulted in serious injuries to police officers.
"We also call on the police to exercise maximum restraint, and condemn the use of excessive force and indiscriminate use of tear gas against protesters, which has resulted in civilian casualties."