Vettel Wins Bahrain’s Controverial Grand Prix Race

Posted April 22nd, 2012 at 2:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Bahrain's Formula One Grand Prix race finished Sunday without incident, despite a week of violent demonstrations leading up to the event.

Two-time world champion Sebastian Vettel held off Kimi Raikkonen to claim his title in a race marked by tight security.

Black smoke from burning tires still drifted over an area near the capital, Manama, that saw mass demonstrations in the day's before the race.

The opposition February 14 Movement had pledged “three days of rage” to coincide with the Grand Prix, as they denounced the event as a lavish spectacle by a ruling family that crushed Arab Spring protests last year.

Crown prince Salmon bin Hand bin al-Halifax rejected those calls to cancel this year's race, saying that would only empower “extremists.” Last year's race was postponed and later canceled because of demonstrations.

Bahrain's monarchy is the main backer of the Formula One race, and the crown prince owns rights to the event.

Demonstrators hurling fire bombs clashed nightly with police during the past week, and security forces responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and birds.

On Saturday, demonstrators took to the streets after opposition groups said a man was killed the day before during clashes with security forces.

Shi'ite account for about 70 percent of Bahrain's population of just over one-half-million people, but claim they face widespread discrimination and lack opportunities granted to the Sunni minority.

The country's leaders have offered some reforms, but the opposition says they fall short of demands for a greater voice in the country's affairs and an elected government.