In contrast to previous years, the opposition failed to gain any significant media attention, apart from a few sympathetic articles by outlets like Qatar’s Al-Jazeera. It seems that the world has stopped listening to the opposition’s litany of fake statistics and false human rights allegations.
Funeral for a wanted murderer
Many of the major opposition processions over the F1 weekend were to mark the “martyrdom” of Hussain Sharaf, who was wanted for the murder of a 19-year old police officer. It is likely that Hussain died as a result of explosives stored in the location where he was hiding out.
Even known opposition faces like Maryam Al Khawaja and Ala’a Al Shehabi; or the opposition’s cheerleaders abroad, like Durham University’s Marc Owen Jones, were active on Twitter promoting and decrying the circumstances of Hussain’s “martyrdom”.
“Brutal repression” claims proved false
To the opposition’s great disappointment, there were no widespread arrests; and no major protester casualties. Police handling of protest rallies and rioting was restrained and low-key; giving the opposition nothing to shout about. Even reports by major human rights organizations like Amnesty International documented no significant incidents of concern.
Shunned by Bahrainis
Protest marches were poorly attended, and the protest movement has increasingly been left with a hard-core of violent militants, who only further discredit the movement.
Tens of thousands of Bahrainis ignored the opposition’s boycott and attended the Grand Prix and associated events like the Scorpions concert; or were glued to their TV screens watching the tense showdown between the two members of the Mercedes Team, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Discredited by violence
In contrast; opposition activities were marked by violence against police. Several police were injured when rioters went on the rampage at the funeral of Hussain Sharaf; a car bomb was detonated in Manama; and on the final night of the Formula One several localities across Bahrain were brought to a halt by tyre-burning, blocked roads and rioting.
A missed opportunity
The worst thing for the opposition is that the Formula One is always their last big opportunity to gain global media attention for nearly a year. Particularly as the hot summer months are nearly upon us, during which few hardened rioters dare to venture out of the comfort of their own homes.
However the opposition has missed its biggest annual chance to gain publicity and won’t have a similar opportunity till next year’s GP; the opposition’s dwindling momentum and further government reforms should help ensure next year’s race goes off without a hitch.
A rejection of Dialogue?
After two months of violent rioting, murderous attacks against police and anti-Bahrain agitation it will be little surprise if few Bahrainis are enthusiastic about Al-Wefaq Islamic Society and other opposition groupings returning to the National Dialogue table. However we urge all parties to keep an open mind to Dialogue.