MARCH 20, 2004
Meanwhile in Bahrain
While the Formula 1 authorities continue to talk up Bahrain's forthcoming event there continue to be quiet worries that the arrival of the sport will cause some reaction from some of the more extreme locals. Last Wednesday for example a group of around 40 Bahraini youths attacked a restaurant in a suburb of Manama, protesting against the sale of alcohol in Bahrain. The crowd, armed with sticks and knives, attacked the La Terrasse restaurant, demanded that the customers leave and then torched the restaurant. One of the attackers was stabbed with his own knife by one of the customers. There was also damage to a number of parked cars. The owner of the restaurant accused members of parliament of provoking the attack by inciting the youths with their hard-line attitudes.
"They are shooting themselves in the foot by driving investors away," he said.
The attacks were condemned by Sheikh Abdullah Al Aali, one of those the owner blamed, who called on the rioters to stop the attacks for the sake of the country's image.
A week earlier rioters in Manama attacked houses where illegal alcohol was being sold, destroying 10,000 bottles - and before the attack there was a separate assault on the home of a distillery owner.
The attacks have caused a certain amount of panic in the business community, which is keen to exploit the Grand Prix.
"What are these misguided people trying to tell the world by perpetrating such crimes?" businessman Dr. Esam Fakhro told the Bahrain Tribune. "When the Government and the private sector are working so hard to attract foreign investors to Bahrain to create employment for Bahrainis, these forces of intolerance are destroying the good work. I think we must deal with such atrocities immediately and firmly through the Ministry of Interior so that the message goes out that such violence and lawlessness won't be tolerated."
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