Why the change of heart? A recommendation from a commissioner of FIA, global motor sports' governing body, whose view of recent events in Bahrain and the human rights situation there is starkly at odds with generally accepted reality. (Blake Hounshell at Foreign Policy posted the FIA report and wrote about it yesterday).
FIA commissioner Carlos Gracia helpfully starts his report on his May 30 and 31 visit to Bahrain by recounting his meeting with the minister of tourism where he learned that "from a Cultural (sic) point of view, nothing has changed." He highlights a planned summer tourism promotion dubbed the "Victory of Joy."
He then moves on to the question of crackdown. He recounts his meeting with Interior Minister and royal family member Rashid bin Abdullah al-Khalifa, from whom he learned that "initially peaceful protests turned quickly into a very aggressive situation ... which saw brutal attacks on the police, resulting in four policemen being killed and 180 were injured." A hospital was "targeted" by protesters and Mr. Gracia relates that the situation "pushed police to act forcibly in order to restore security." No mention is made anywhere in his report of the at least 30 demonstrators who have been killed.
In his conclusion recommending a return for F1, he writes that he found an "atmosphere of total calm and stability" and that "life in Bahrain is completely normal again."
He should tell that to Ayet al-Gormezi, whose story was told by Caryle Murphy yesterday. In March, Ms. Gormezi was arrested, beaten, tortured with electric shocks, and had a toilet brush forced into her mouth. She's currently awaiting trial for participating in democracy protests and publicly criticizing the king or, as Bahrain has it, "breaching public security." Most Bahrainis that Ms. Murphy spoke with for the story asked her not to use their real names, fearing government reprisals.