Sunday, May 30, 2010

Next drought in Africa can lead to war over Nile waters

Unless the current standoff between the Nile riparian states is broken to provide for a unified management of the Nile basin for the first time then the next great drought could send the region back to the brink of a water was, predicts The Independent HERE

Bangladeah blocks facebook over blasphemy

Bangladesh says it has blocked the popular social networking website Facebook over a page that urges people to draw images of Islam's prophet Muhammad.  Chief telecommunication regulator Zia Ahmed said Sunday that access to the site has been temporarily blocked because it was publishing caricatures that may hurt the religious sentiments of people in the Muslim-majority nation.

Thousands of Muslims protested in Dhaka last week against what they called the website's "blasphemous content" because of a page called "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" that encouraged users to post images of the prophet.

Pakistan earlier blocked Facebook over the same page.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Osman Mirghani: Arabs neglect their 20 million handicapped

When one visits a western country, he can see disabled people in the streets, and on buses and trains, and in supermarkets and offices, meeting their own needs and living their lives without feeling isolated or alone. As for our Arab world, we hardly see people with special needs in the street for in most cases they are prisoners in their own homes, unable to leave the house and move around due to the absence of facilities, or they are socially excluded and under the legal guardianship of hospitals and private clinics. MORE HERE

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Morocco expelled 100+ missionaries in past 3 months

Morocco has expelled 100 foreign Christians since March because they allegedly tried to convert Muslims, the harshest crackdown in decades, Worthy News learned Saturday, May 22. Morocco's Islamic Affairs Minister Ahmed Toufiq said in published remarks that the deportations, were needed for "order and calm" and to avoid a clash between faiths.

The latest expulsion was that of Spaniard Francisco Paton Millan, the head of a small energy company, who was ordered last week to leave the country for trying to convert Muslims to Christianity, church workers and European diplomats said. MORE HERE

Pakistan blocks 'blasphemous' web pages

Pakistan has blocked 800 web pages and URLs to limit access to "blasphemous" material, extending a crackdown that has already banned access to Facebook and YouTube, an official said yesterday. The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) banned access to Facebook, YouTube and other links, which included restricted access to Wikipedia, in view of what it called "growing sacrilegious content" this week.
"At least 800 individual web pages and URLs have been blocked since the government's orders to shut Facebook and YouTube," Wahaj us Siraj, a spokesman for the Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan said.
Mr Siraj's remarks came hours after the Facebook user who organised an "Everyone Draw Mohammed Day" competition to promote "freedom of expression" evidently took down the page along with a separate blog about the campaign. MORE HERE

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Interview with Gaza's Army of Islam - Palestine is an Islamic Waqf

"Salafism is not only in Gaza, it is all over Palestine and needs no license to practice in the heart of Tel Aviv or in Washington," Jaish Al-Islam (Army of Islam) leader Omer Al-Ansari told Ma'an during an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

"But enough about the movement, its time to move is subject to its men and their ability to stand in the face of the tyrannies," Al-Ansari said from his secret hideout and weapons store, settling in for an in-depth discussion on the relationship of the movement to Al-Qaeda, tensions with the ruling Hamas party, and its vision for the Palestinian national struggle. MORE HERE

Monday, May 17, 2010

Morocco continues to expel Christian expats

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that 23 foreigners have been notified of expulsion from Morocco since May 10, marking a second wave of Christian deportations from the country.

A spokesman for the US Embassy in Morocco in an interview with ICC said, “We are very concerned about thisWhile there were fewer Americans in this round than there were in the first round of this in early March, we’re still following it very closely, and we have expressed concern, as have other diplomatic missions here, to the Moroccan authorities about this.

The recent notifications of expulsion are officially attributed to proselytizing, which is illegal under Moroccan law.  Earlier this year, the enforcement of anti-proselytizing laws resulted in the deportations of approximately 40 US citizens and many other foreign expatriates from Morocco.  However, Moroccan authorities have refused to explain the charges.  “[The Moroccan government] has been very cagy about really giving any information to people, which has been disturbing,” said the US Embassy spokesman.  “But we understand it’s all based on alleged proselytizing.” MORE HERE

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sudan arrests Hassan al-Turabi - again

Sudanese authorities arrested Islamist opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi (picture) at his home late on Saturday, a month after the country's first competitive elections in 24 years, his secretary said.
"At around midnight (2100 GMT), a group of security officers arriving in three cars, came and took Hassan al-Turabi from his home," Awad Babakir told AFP.
Turabi, once President Omar al-Beshir's mentor but now one of his fiercest critics, had denounced last month's elections as fraudulent and said his Popular Congress Party would not join a future government.
Beshir was declared winner in Sudan's first multi-party election since 1986, a vote marred by an opposition boycott, logistical problems and accusations of fraud. MORE

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Arab Egypt and Sudan vs. Africa over Nile water

A controversial deal has been signed to share the waters of the world's longest river.  But Egypt and Sudan are not happy at four African countries signing a new deal on the Nile.  Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania signed the new framework on Friday while Kenya issued a support statement. Ten nations share the resources of the river.

Colonial-era agreements gave the biggest share of water to the two downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan.  But as Al Jazeera's Mohamed Vall explains, upstream nations are now pushing for a greater share. Watch this TV programs here

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Food shortages in Arab World

ARAB countries need to invest some $144 billion in agriculture over the next 20 years to meet the food demands of the growing population, an Arab agricultural organization has said.
Tareq A-Zadjali, director general of the Arab Organization for Agriculture Development, said much of the funding for agricultural expansion needs to be secured from private Arab investors.
"We have an annual food security gap of between 27 and 29 billion dollars," he told The Media Line. "We want to reduce this gap."
The population in the Middle East, currently numbering around 335 million, is projected to reach some 545 million by the year 2030, creating what A-Zadjali claimed will be a deficit of $71 billion should investment not be secured. MORE HERE

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Child labor in Arab World

From shoeshine boys on the streets of Sana’a to underage labourers on Egyptian farms, a new UN report warns of significant levels of child labour in the Arab world and a lack of effective monitoring to tackle abuses.

Child labour monitors warn that patchy data leave Arab policymakers struggling against a problem that sees young people exposed to toxic agricultural chemicals on farms and life-threatening machinery in factories and workshops.

The UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) presents an estimate of 13.4 million child labourers – about 15 per cent of the region’s junior population – but fears the real figure could be much higher because many work off the books.

“Take Egypt as an example; it is visible to any visitor to the country that child labour is a problem. You can see it on the surface – but that doesn’t give a basis for planning,” said Frank Hagemann, the ILO’s policy chief on child labour. MORE HERE

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Al Shabaab Militants Execute Christian Leader in Somalia

(Compass Direct News) - Islamic militants yesterday killed another leader of the underground church movement in Somalia, sources said. 
Before he was fatally shot on Tuesday (May 4) in Xarardheere, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Jowhar, 57-year-old Yusuf Ali Nur had been on a list of people the Islamic extremist al Shabaab suspected of being Christian, sources who spoke on condition of anonymity told Compass. Al Shabaab, said to have links with al Qaeda, has vowed to rid Somalia of Christianity.
The militants fighting the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Mogadishu had been engaged in a two-hour battle with a rival rebel group, the Ahlu Sunna Waljamer, which had taken control of the Xarardheere area, before they came across Nur. Nur had lived in Xarardheere since leaving Jowhar in July 2009. 
Eyewitnesses said that after al Shabaab took control of the area, they went from house to house looking for enemy fighters when they arrived at Nur's rented home at about 10:30 a.m. Sources said that upon finding Nur, one of the militants remarked, "Oh! This is Yusuf, whom we have been looking for," before they sprayed him with bullets at close range. 
Nur is survived by his wife, whose name was withheld for security reasons, and three children, ages 11, 9 and 7. MORE HERE

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Antony Loewenstein: 'Isolating Iran is part of the ‘great energy game’

Foreign Policy journal on Iran and US foreign policy:

The Middle East is witness to continuous developments these days, such as Iran’s active diplomacy to attract the indispensable 118-member bloc of non-aligned countries to support its nuclear program, the growing isolation of Israel in European countries and within academic circles in the U.S., Arabs’ fears of losing the power game in the Persian Gulf region, and the expansion of illegal settlements of Israel in the West Bank and its unremitting disobedience to United Nations Security Council resolutions. MORE HERE