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House of Lords Member: Drivers Like Hamilton May Have to Consider Boycotting F1 Race in Bahrain in Protest against Najah Yousif's Arrest

2019-03-07 - 8:44 p

Bahrain Mirror: Formula One bosses have been accused of turning a "blind eye" to the plight of a woman jailed after protesting against the Bahrain Grand Prix, the American Sky News website said.

Najah Yousif's case escalated after refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi has urged Formula One fans to boycott this year's Grand Prix in Bahrain if she is not released.

Al-Araibi has changed into an international icon for the rights of refugees and intersection between sport and human rights, after being arrested in Thailand at the request of the Bahraini authorities. His arrest caused an international outcry, which ended after nearly 70 days of imprisonment by being released by the Thai authorities after being under severe pressure and in coordination with Bahrain that said it retracted from his pursuit there.

Najah Yousif was sentenced to 3 years in jail after protesting against the 2017 race on her Facebook page. Najah said she was beaten and sexually abused while in custody.

Lord Scriven, who was involved in the Al-Araibi case, said he will meet with Formula One bosses next week.

Scriven told the Sky News that drivers like Britain's five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton may have to consider boycotting the race. "The first port of call is the Formula One organizers itself but if they continue to hold the race there, drivers like Lewis Hamilton may have to consider a boycott," he said,

The Guardian newspaper revealed in November that Formula One admitted to having "concerns" about Yusuf's case. However, in a letter to Human Rights Watch and the Bahraini Institute of Rights and Democracy (Bird) on Monday, F1 said it had been assured Yusuf's conviction "had nothing to do with peaceful protest around the Bahrain grand prix".

Bahrain was widely criticized for its pursuit of refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi, who had previously criticized the regime. He spent two months in a Thailand jail after Bahrain issued a red notice through Interpol for his extradition before they eventually relented under huge political pressure.

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