Monday, June 29, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
El-Khayari is president of the Association for Human Rights in the Rif, an independent organization based in the Mediterranean coastal city of Nador. Before his arrest on February 17, 2009, el-Khayari had made numerous statements on drug-trafficking from northern Morocco to Europe, both to the international media and in conferences in Europe, accusing some officials
of complicity in the trade or laxness in combating it. El-Khayari is also an activist for Amazigh (Berber) rights and has spoken out against mistreatment of migrants and abuses by both Moroccan and Spanish security forces at the border with the Spanish enclave of Melilla. All of these factors make the Rif region a sensitive issue in Morocco. MORE HERE
But watching tens of thousands of Iranians take to the streets of Tehran this month, the 27-year-old pro-democracy activist has grown disillusioned. In 10 days, he said, the Iranians have achieved far more than his movement has ever accomplished in Egypt.
"We sacrificed a lot, but we have gotten nowhere," Sharkawy said. More in the Washington Post
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Egyptian State Security has placed only Coptic villagers under curfew since the Muslim assaults on Sunday. According to correspondent Mary Bassit of Copts United, The terrified villagers fear that being confined to their homes, while Muslims are free, might encourage Muslim fanatics to massacre them, especially with the bias of the security forces.
Lawyer Makkar Watany, who was detained with the 19 other Copts after Sunday's events, told Coptic News Bulletin on 6/23/09 that they were mistreated during police detention, with several Copts suffering broken limbs and wounds. "I was singled out as the police knew that I am a Coptic activist and have connections with the NGOs in Cairo. I was beaten by a junior office, in spite of being a lawyer." he said. "The other Coptic detainees told the police that they 'are ready to die as they have nothing more to lose.'" More HERE
On Monday 6/22/2009, El-Fashn prosecution issued an order for the village priest, Reverend Isaac Castor, to appear before them, on charges of sectarian sedition after three Muslim women accused him of hurling stones at them from inside the church. More on AINA
At this point, only the short-term future of Iran's clerical regime remains in doubt. The current protests could be repressed, but the unelected institutions of priestly rule have been fatally undermined. Though each aspect of the Islamic Republic has its own dynamic, this is not a regime that can last many more years.
When it comes to repression, Iran has a spectrum of security instruments that can be used synergistically. The national police can take care of routine crowd control; riot-police units can beat some demonstrators in order to discourage others; the much more brutal, underclass Basij militiamen enjoy striking and shooting affluent Iranians; and the technical arm of the regime can block cellular service to disrupt demonstrations, as well as stall Internet services. MORE on the Wall Street Journal
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Samhan was charged with slandering Islam by combining sacred words of the Quran with sexual themes.
And, more often than not, the same sentence is uttered or written by precisely the sort of self-trained autodidact whose own knowledge of Islam came from whatever he or she read on the Internet or some cassette he bought at the local market.
It has become rather commonplace for conservative Muslims – as well as conservative Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Jews – to claim monopoly over the discourse of Islam and to try their best to close off the space of public discourse on all matters religious for the sake of protecting the integrity and sanctity of that discourse.
Or so we are told. HERE MORE
Friday, June 19, 2009
The report, by the Berkman Center for the Internet and Society at Harvard University analyzed some 35,000 active Arabic language blogs in 18 different countries. MORE HERE
And HERE the whole report. (A pdf file)
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Both nurses were on a short-term internship at the Al Jumhuri hospital in Saada (North Yemen). It is supported by the humanitarian agency Worldwide Services in the Netherlands.
Anita G. and Rita S., members of a Baptist Church in Wolfsburg (North Germany), were abducted June 12 north of Saada on an excursion with a German couple and their three children, a British engineer and a South Korean teacher.
The two German women were first stabbed and then shot. Young-Sun I. (34) was also murdered, while the fate of the other hostages remains unclear. According to some unconfirmed press reports they have also been murdered.
Brake Bible School is in deep shock about the murder of the students. They were dedicated in their desire to help the needy. That was their sole motivation to go to Yemen.. Both women belong to a Baptist church made up mainly of ethnic German emigrants from Russia.
(c) ANS, Wolfgang Polzer
We regret to report that on Saturday 13th June an Egyptian court ruled against him.
According to human rights advocates present at the trial, Maher's application failed on both procedural and substantive grounds. Firstly, the certificate of conversion given to him by a Coptic priest had not been certified by the Coptic Orthodox Church, making it invalid. Secondly, while Egypt's Civil Code provides a procedure for the amendment of identity cards, the procedure requires submission of legal documents substantiating the need for any amendment. Because conversion from Islam to Christianity is not a legal concept, there is no competent body to offer Maher the necessary documents.
The judge accepted a State Council report which states that the religious conversion of a Muslim is against Islamic law and poses a threat to public order. A member of Maher's legal team commented that the State Council report fails to recognise both the Civil Code provisions and Egypt's commitments under international law to uphold religious freedom, and is instead based solely on Islamic principles and the concern to preserve public order
Maher's legal team is preparing to appeal this ruling. National human rights groups are confident of an appeal succeeding based on the fact that the judge's interpretation of the Civil Code was very restrictive.
Egyptian Christians request our prayers that:
a. Maher and his daughter will know the presence and peace of Jesus each day
b. All parties involved will act with integrity
c. Maher's legal team will know God's wisdom and enabling
d. The case will ultimately be successful, allowing them to have their identity cards changed and setting a precedent for other BMBs
e. All officials involved will be exposed to the claims of Jesus and be drawn to His offer of love and life.
(c) Middle East Concern
The Egyptian Ministry of Health has decided to place Sallum, the port city bordering Libya, under quarantine, and health checks are being conducted on everyone returning from Libya. Tubruq is located 93 miles from the border with Egypt. MORE HERE
HERE the report by BBC
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
A century ago, Christians constituted 20 percent of the population of the region. Today, the percentage has shrunk to 2-5 percent. The Christians in the Middle East are disappearing from the region with such a speed that the Catholic archbishop of Baghdad, Rev. Jean Benjamin Sleiman, has said he "fears the extinction of Christianity in Iraq and the Middle East.
Pope Benedict XVI, on 12 May 2009 in a Mass at the foot of Jebel az-Zeitun or Mount of Olives, in east Jerusalem Al-Quds spoke about the tragic reality of the departure of so many members of the Christian community in recent years. READ HERE THE WHOLE ARTICLE
Kidnapping foreigners has been common in parts of Yemen in recent years, though the usual pattern is that the hostages are released unharmed. This latest incident occurred in the northern province of Saada where there has been unrest for several years. The fifth war between the Houthi rebels and the government ended with a signed peace agreement with the government in July 2008. Generally the agreement has been kept by both parties, but violence has continued on a small scale in pockets. The Yemeni Government has accused the Houthi rebels of carrying out the abductions and murders, while other analysts consider that al-Qaeda may have been responsible. No group has yet claimed responsibility and the Houthi rebels have denied involvement.
Recently there have been increasing protests in southern provinces of Yemen, some of which have become violent. These are generally motivated by a feeling that the federal government in Sana'a is not giving some them a fair share of national resources. In view of these developments many expatriate Christians working in Yemen have been reviewing their security arrangements.
One new concern amongst expatriate Christians is that the murder of the South Korean might lead the Korean government to change the status of their current warning against travel to Yemen from 'advisory' to 'binding', effectively making it a closed country for South Korean nationals. (This currently applies to travel to Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia). This would force the significant number of Koreans working in Yemen to leave, which would have an impact on several Christian ministries.
Expatriate Christians in Yemen request our prayers that:
a. The families and colleagues of Anita, Rita and Young-Sun will know the comfort of Jesus
b. The perpetrators will be convicted by the Spirit and drawn to the forgiveness, love and true life offered by Jesus
c. All expatriate Christians in Yemen will know the Lord's guiding and protecting at this time
d. The South Korean government will not prevent its citizens from working in Yemen
(c) Middle East Concern
Monday, June 15, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Known for his sincerity and frankness, Omar Rebrab, CEO of one of the most important representative of a commercial vehicle brand in Algeria “Hyundai”, told us about his experience in the world of investment and business. He was able to make a name as one of the young investors who have managed to run a modern company based on the international economic criteria and standards and skilled Algerian youth trained by Algerian universities. MORE ON ENNAHAR ONLINE
The show was less than impressive. Despite efforts by the Ansar Hezbollah (Militants of the Party of God) and security services to manufacture a large crowd, the massive Maydan Vali-Asr (Hidden Imam Square) was unfilled. The official news agency put the number at "several hundred thousands" while eyewitnesses reported tens of thousands.
Even then, scuffles broke out on the fringes of the crowd as groups of dissidents tried to force their way in with cries of "Marg bar diktator!" (death to the dictator). That slogan may be on its way to replacing the normal greeting of salaam (peace) in parts of urban Iran. MORE in the WSJ
The hawkish Prime Minister insisted that Israel would never give up a united Jerusalem as its capital, and said that established Jewish settlements in the West Bank would continue to expand — despite explicit objections from Washington.
In a keynote speech that referred to a Palestinian “entity” far more frequently than an actual state, Mr Netanyahu tried to advance elements of his economic peace plan — whereby the Palestinians would get increased investment but only limited sovereignty — while still conceding to US insistence on the creation of an independent Palestinian country.
The right-wing Israeli leader said the moderate Palestinian leadership in the West Bank must agree to recognise Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, as well as fight the Islamic hardliners Hamas, who now control Gaza, in return for the resumption of peace talks. MORE HERE on Times Online
More than four thousand Coptic villagers demonstrated on Thursday June, 11 against this forced change, vowing to fight to the end to keep the name of their village. They carried banners with slogans such as 'Let us all die and May Abu Hennis live for ever' and "We, the inhabitants of the village refuse the change in the name of our village and we want it to remain as it is. It is our right and our demand" MORE HERE
Saturday, June 13, 2009
The Egyptian government agents, the court in today’s case, are considered in the eyes of the international law as “Agents of Persecution” which can open the door open to an era of international condemnation of the Egyptian government position regarding Freedom of Religion. Al-Gohari and his daughter Dina 12, live in hiding in continuous fear since radical Islamists such as Sheik Youssef El-Badri and Dr Hamid Sardiq incited Radical Muslim mobs to kill Al-Gohari for his apostasy. (c) United Copts
WAM said drivers were queuing in temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) without access to basic facilities at the Ghuweifat border crossing as they "wait to complete formalities" to enter the kingdom.
It quoted Saleh Mohammed al-Mualla, secretary general of the UAE Red Crescent, as saying the aid agency was providing food and water for drivers stuck in the 32-km (20-mile) queue.
"The suffering of those truckers calls for the immediate removal of obstacles they face primarily during this difficult summer time," al-Mualla was quoted as saying.
The queue began forming three weeks ago, according to local media, with some speculating that a new finger-printing system introduced by Saudi customs was the cause.
A Saudi customs official told Reuters the Saudi authorities were investigating the reason for the delay. (c) Reuters, reporting by Raissa Kasolowsky; editing by Andrew Dobbie
The policy reversal, which is expected to go public this weekend, could help restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and allow the Israeli leader to steer a course between Mr. Obama's view and those of his own hawkish base. MORE HERE in the Washington Times.
I have been in Iran for exactly one week covering the 2009 Iranian election carnival. Since I arrived, few here doubted that the incumbent firebrand President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad would win. My airport cab driver reminded me that the president had visited every province twice in the last four years – "Iran isn't Tehran," he said. Even when I asked Mousavi supporters if their man could really carry more than capital, their responses were filled with an Obamasque provisional optimism – "Yes we can", "I hope so", "If you vote." So the question occupying the international media, "How did Mousavi lose?" seems to be less a problem of the Iranian election commission and more a matter of bad perception rooted in the stubborn refusal to understand the role of religion in Iran. MORE HERE
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Who doesn’t enjoy beholding something beautiful? So much of our time is spent in beautifying things, places and our bodies, that it must indeed be worth the extra effort to incorporate beauty into any endeavor. Whether it is a bunch of cilantro leaves adorning a dish, a long-stemmed rose in a vase accentuating a dining table, a scenic watercolor painting giving life to a bland room, or blooming flowers livening up a lush green garden during spring, a thing of beauty, as they say, is “a joy forever.” So much so that, one of the best traits of a believing Muslim wife is that when her husband beholds her, he is pleased. MORE HERE
Colonel Gadaffi knows how to celebrate. This September is the 40th anniversary of the military coup that brought the Libyan leader to power, and to mark the occasion, billions of pounds worth of infrastructure, housing and other construction projects will get under way.
This might appear to be the type of self-aggrandisement one would expect from the world’s longest-serving dictator, but it is also an indication of something more: the long-awaited Libyan construction boom. MORE HERE
With the weekend election victory of its political allies in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia's traditional clout over Middle East politics appears to be on the rebound, after years of frustration in Riyadh over Iran's regional ascendancy.
Invigorated Saudi influence could be an important crutch in the Obama administration's emerging strategy on Middle East peace. The staunch U.S. ally is seen in Washington as perhaps the only regional powerhouse that can bring unruly Arab neighbors, in particular Syria, into line with the U.S. goal of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace deal. MORE HERE on Wall Street Journal
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said that state, few days ago, security officers forced an owner of numerous internet cafes in Egypt to inform police officers with the name and ID number of those customers who browse “political” websites.
ANHRI released a detailed statement reporting that security forces raided an Internet cafe in Cairo and asked for the visitors' registration book with all details on visitors activities from the beginning of the café's work, the statement adds:
When the owner of the place told police that there are no books; they had taken his ID card and the license of the café. Moreover they confiscated the equipments of internet service, and took him along to the Security Directorate in Giza. There he was forced to sign a minute charging him of practicing ‘an activity without a license
This act has roots since 2005, as reportedly the state security officers forced the owners of Internet cafes to register the names and identity numbers of those who visit the cafes frequently. Usually the officials don't deny such an act, meanwhile there is no law or governmental decision for that.
Good to note that there is a big number of internet café all over Egypt, where people can access the web for entertainment, research and blogging; especially that internet prices are really cheap (1EGP=20cent/Hour). SOURCE: Global Voices Online
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Hosni made the remarks in April 2008 to Egyptian lawmakers to defend himself against charges of being soft toward Israel - and Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel and Jewish activists seized on them, warning in late May that Hosni was "a danger" if named to the UNESCO post.
The flap illustrates the role Hosni has played in 22 years as culture minister in an authoritarian nation where he must negotiate a path between liberals and conservatives, knowing who to appease and when.
As the longest-serving member in Egypt's Cabinet, the 71-year-old Hosni has won a reputation as a slippery political survivor. MORE HERE IN HAARETZ
Many people have the following questions in mind: Was Muhammad a liar? Was he just a social reformer? Did he invent the teachings of Islam by himself? Or was he a true prophet like all the Noble Prophets that preceded him? To prove Muhammad's prophethood 'beyond doubt', the article highlights '11 logical proofs'.Read them HERE
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Along with the Internet, satellite broadcasting has enabled remarkable change in the way that Arab societies, which tend to favor traditional and group-oriented values, engage in discussions about politics and society. Since the early 1990s, satellite broadcasting in the Arab world has proliferated to yield more than 200 channels reaching an audience of approximately 325 million. In 22 countries spanning from Morocco in North Africa to Yemen in the Persian Gulf, this Arabic-speaking audience has a combined population accounting for a quarter of the Muslim world. HERE the whole article
Monday, June 8, 2009
With few other attractions, Bahrain's booming tourism industry thrives on the island's reputation as a freewheeling oasis just a short drive from major Saudi cities. Bahrain has little oil of its own; tourism, mostly by the four million Saudis who cross the causeway each year, accounts for a tenth of its economy.
All of this is endangered, as Bahraini legislators press to scrap the country's drinking laws -- currently the most liberal in the Persian Gulf -- and to impose near-total prohibition. MORE HERE IN THE WSJ
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Official results for Sunday's election were not expected until later Monday, but the winners were already celebrating by shooting in the air, setting off fireworks and driving around in honking motorcades.
The election was an early test of President Barack Obama's efforts to forge Middle East peace. A win by Hezbollah would have boosted the influence of its backers Iran and Syria and risked pushing one of the region's most volatile nations into international isolation and possibly into more conflict with Israel. THE WHOLE AP STORY HERE
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Latest election polls show that a few seats and districts either way could swing the results from the government to the opposition. (For considerations of space, I'm leaving out a lot of detail but I'd like you to finish reading this diary before the elections tomorrow!) Follow me below the fold as I go through the players and give my views on likely outcomes. HERE THE COMPLETE GUIDE
Friday, June 5, 2009
Bishop Miguel Ángel Sebastián Martínez of Lai, Chad, spoke of the rapid growth of the Church in his country when he addressed the synod of bishops last October.
He explained the importance given to the Word of God and the Eucharist, noting that Catholics cannot always attend Mass each Sunday because of a lack of priests, but that they gather to read and pray the Bible, and to seek "what they should do to change that in their lives which is not in conformity with the Gospel." Source: Zenith.org
The Pope named Jesuit Bishop-designate Henri Coudray to be the first apostolic vicar of Mongo. The French bishop-designate has been the apostolic prefect in Mongo since 2001. He is a specialist in the Arabic language, Islam and interreligious dialogue. Henri Coudray was born in 1942 and studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, the Sorbonne, and received a licentiate in Arabic and Islamic studies in Lyon. He was ordained a priest in 1973 and made his profession in the Society of Jesus in 1980.
The Catholics of the vicariate, some 6,000 out of a population of 1.7 million, are distributed in six parishes, attended by nine priests, 13 women religious, five men religious, eight lay missionaries, and two seminarians.
At the Dora junction, the image of a woman in designer sunglasses and orange lipstick, pouting Je vote orange, is ubiquitous. Orange is the colour of popular Christian leader Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement, which has arguably led the billboard war in appealing to its largely middle class, youthful support-base. MORE HERE
Thursday, June 4, 2009
In what may be a defining moment of his presidency, Obama laid out a new blueprint for US Middle East policy, vowing to end mistrust, forge a state for Palestinians and defuse a nuclear showdown with Iran.
"So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace," said Obama, who was greeted with a standing ovation as he stepped up to the podium at Cairo University. MORE HERE
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
“When I got close I tried to throw the stone and at that moment the explosion happened,” said Mr Labid, 19, a refugee from Western Sahara.
The accident happened in April, when Mr Labid joined a protest march beneath a security barrier that seals most of the desert territory annexed by neighbouring Morocco in 1975 as Spanish colonisers departed following the death of the dictator Francisco Franco.
The march ended in disaster when an anti-personnel mine blew off most of Mr Labid’s right foot. “I knew there were mines,” he said from a hospital bed in the nearby city of Tindouf, Algeria. “But when you see the berm up close you just lose your patience.”MORE HERE