Bahrain Grand Prix organizers have received a major boost after winning the support of a leading United Nations war crimes expert for this year's race to go ahead.
Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni, who headed up the critical report of last year's political troubles in Bahrain, believes it vital that the event goes ahead this season after it was canceled 12 months ago. Writing a public letter to Bahrain circuit's chairman Zayed R. Alzayani, Bassiouni explained that hosting the event would provide an important steppingstone in helping the Gulf state to move forward.
His views on the matter are important because Bassiouni has in-depth knowledge of the political situation in Bahrain, having last year compiled the Bahrain Independent Commission on Inquiry that looked into the causes of the political troubles, and the way in which the security forces handled the situation.
In the letter, Bassiouni writes: "This is an important initiative, which gives another opportunity for the people of Bahrain to come together again after all that has happened in the last year. The grand prix is a significant national event, which is of great interest to a substantial percentage of the population and all of its communities. It is therefore an event of deserved national pride, which you have used in this year's launching as a way of promoting national healing and reconciliation.
"Aside from the economic, publicity, and public relations advantages that the grand prix brings to Bahrain, it is, on this one year anniversary of the February/March events of last year, an important point of departure for the People of Bahrain to forge ahead in their national efforts toward reconciliation.
"You and the respective organizations involved are to be commended on this initiative. I hope there will be many in Bahrain, during this year and in the years to come, who will consolidate the processes of national reconciliation, and that all elements of society will add their support and positive encouragement to this and other similar endeavors designed to enhance national reconciliation."
Bassiouni copied the letter to Formula 1 commercial manager Bernie Ecclestone and FIA president Jean Todt.
The Bahrain Grand Prix is scheduled to take place on April 22, with tickets for the event having gone on sale last week.