Hackers claiming to be from Anonymous have taken down the official Formula One website as protests grow over this weekend’s controversial Grand Prix in the Kingdom of Bahrain, according to The Register.
“The F1 Grand Prix in Bahrain should be strongly opposed. The Al Khalifa regime stands to profit heavily off the race and has promised to use live ammunition against protestors in preparation,” the group said in a statement.
“They have already begun issuing collective punishment to entire villages for protests and have promised further retribution ‘to keep order’ for the F1 events in Bahrain. The Formula 1 racing authority was well-aware of the Human Rights situation in Bahrain and still chose to contribute to the regime’s oppression of civilians and will be punished.”
The statement also called for the release of Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, a prominent local human rights activist who was arrested at his home in April 2011 and sentenced to life in prison two months later on charges of aiding terrorist organizations. Amnesty International has declared him a ‘prisoner of conscience’ and he is now in the 70th day of a hunger strike.
So far the race looks like it will be going ahead anyway, although some members of the Force India team have left the country following an incident earlier in the week where they were caught in a riot and tear gassed. The country’s Crown Prince said to cancel the race now would “empower extremists,” Reuters reports.
Bahrain was the first Middle Eastern state to hold a Formula One race in 2004 and the ruling family has a significant stake in the McLaren racing team. The 2011 race was cancelled after protests erupted across the country.