Anonymous has taken the Formula One site down as part of its #OpBahrain (Operation Bahrain), in a show of solidarity with Bahrainis who are protesting in advance a major race in the Middle Eastern island nation.
In response to Arab Spring protests against the nation's constitutional monarchy, Bahrain's leaders cancelled the Bahrain Grand Prix Formula One race last year for the first time since it launched in 2004.
But the eve of the race is at hand, and increasingly violent protests have swept across the nation of about 1.2 million people, leading to the deaths of at least 13 civilians, and pro-Democracy groups are calling on King Hamad bin isa Al Khalifa and the royal family to cancel the race again this year.
The loose Anonymous hacktivist organization has gotten in on the action, using DDOS (denial of service) tactics to bring down the official Formula One website Formula1.com on Friday afternoon, and replacing the website f1-racers.net/ with a lengthy message (excerpted below) as part of #OpBahrain:
For over one year the people of Bahrain have struggled against the oppressive regime of King Hamad bin Al Khalifa. They have been murdered in the streets, run over with vehicles, beaten, tortured, tear gassed, kidnapped by police, had their businesses vandalised by police, and have tear gas thrown in to their homes on a nightly basis. ... We demand the immediate release of human rights worker Abdulhadi Alkhawaja who has spent over 70 days on hunger strike. He has committed no crimes and is being punished by the regime for advocating people's basic human rights. Free him and all other political prisoners in Bahrain. End torture. Deport all mercenary police and stop the use of tear gas against civilians.
The grand prix, which is one of the most high-profile races each year, appears to have gotten underway despite the protests and the Anonymous action, but it is garnering a lot of negative attention for King Hamad bin Al Khalifa's regime.
Anonymous sent out a press release on Friday calling on folks worldwide who are concerned about the situation in Bahrain to help shame those who are involved in the race, as well as express their displeasure with the nation's leadership:
Beginning tomorrow, and lasting for the duration of this race - Anonymous will turn your web site (www.formula1.com) into a smoking crater in cyber space. We will also jam your phone lines, bomb your E-Mail inboxes - and wreck anything else of yours we can find on the Internet. You can god damn well expect us. And to anyone in the world who watches this race, either in person or on television - you also have the blood of the Bahrain Freedom Martyrs on your hands.
The Bahrain Grand Prix Formula One race ends April 22.