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Bahrain's Formula 1 Race Sparks New Round Of Protests

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Foreign laborers collect equipment they left behind against a wall sprayed with graffiti against holding the upcoming Formula One Grand Prix in Bahrain in the village of Barbar, west of the capital Manama, on March 31, 2013. (MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH/AFP/Getty Images) | Getty Images

MANAMA, Bahrain -- Thousands of anti-government demonstrators in Bahrain have joined a march that included breakaway protests against the scheduled Formula One race later this month.

The anger against the F1 event appears lower than last year but rights groups say security forces have expanded arrests and crackdowns near the track. Opponents of the race have vowed wider protests in the coming week.

The race is Bahrain's premier international event. It was cancelled in 2011 as the Arab Spring uprising engulfed the Gulf kingdom. In 2012 it went ahead despite huge demonstrations.

Friday's protest, authorized by the government, included a line of marchers more than 2-kilometers (1.2-miles) long.

Bahrain's majority Shiites have pressed for a greater political voice on the Sunni-ruled island, which is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

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