Posts Tagged ‘Gaza’
Over in Egypt events are moving on a pace, with the removal of the symbols of the Mubarak period, the New York Times reports:
““Egyptians have adopted this habit for centuries — since the time of the pharaohs, when the image of pharaoh was everywhere,” said Mr. Sabry, doing a little walk-like-an-Egyptian maneuver with his hands and head. “Corrupt people should not be honored. I do not want to delete 30 years of Egyptian history, but I want to remove that name.”
The name and face have been scraped away piecemeal since Mr. Mubarak was overthrown Feb. 11 after three decades as president. Mr. Sabry’s lawsuit, filed in Cairo Expediency Court on March 1, seeks a court order to mandate “deMubarakization” in one fell swoop.
The idea draws widespread, but not universal, approval. A brief legal hearing on the issue on Thursday ignited a heated skirmish outside the downtown Cairo courthouse between those seeking to preserve the Mubarak name and those wanting it expunged.
Given that the once universal billboards bearing Mr. Mubarak’s portrait have largely come down, the sudden profusion of his picture held aloft by more than 100 supporters seemed alien. “
Khaled Abu Toameh has had some thoughts on Syria:
“Just as Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Seif ul Islam, was once praised as the new, liberal and democratic hope of Libya, so Bashar was projected eleven years ago as representing a new generation of Arab leaders willing to break away from a dark and dictatorial past.
But the events of the last few days in Syria, which have seen unarmed demonstrators gunned down by government forces, prove conclusively that when push comes to shove, Bashar is actually not all that different from his late father. As some of his critic comment, “The apple does not fall far from the tree.”
His handling of pro-democracy protests that have erupted in several Syrian cities since March 15 is a reminder that Bashar is a dictator who, like Colonel Gaddafi and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, will not surrender power gracefully.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal several weeks ago, Bashar boasted that the Tunisian and Egyptian models did not apply to his country and that there was no fear for the survival of his regime. He was right in the first part of his analysis: both neither the Egyptian nor Tunisian presidents chose to fight their people to the last drop of their blood.
But the second part of his analysis is faulty: Syria is far from immune from the political tsunami of popular uprisings currently sweeping through the Arab world.
Syrian human rights organizations have expressed deep concern over the Syrian authorities’ ruthless and brutal crackdown. They note how in many instances children under the ages of 15 were arrested by the notorious “mukhabarat” secret service for allegedly painting anti-government graffiti on city walls.
In another incident that took place in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, Bashar unleashed his commandos against peaceful worshippers who were staging a sit-in strike in a mosque; he killed dozens and wounded many others.
Syrians are asking: Will the son go as far as his father in stamping down on all protests? The public has not forgotten the terrible events of 20 years ago in the city of Hama, when government forces using artillery and air power killed an estimated 20,000 civilians. “
Reuters’ live coverage on the Middle East is useful.
Human Rights Watch has news of Hamas torturing Palestinians.
“Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that Hamas police and plainclothes security officials prevented a demonstration at the Unknown Soldier square in Gaza City on February 28, 2011, without giving any reason, and detained and tortured one of the organizers, Ahmad Arar. Arar, 31, gave Human Rights Watch a detailed accounted of the abuse he said he suffered, an attempt, he said, to make him confess to being a Palestinian Authority agent. Since late February, Hamas internal security officials have threatened, confiscated equipment from, and repeatedly questioned young activists trying to organize similar protests for March 15, the activists said.
“The Hamas government has shown time and again that it cares little about the rights of Palestinians who peacefully challenge its policies,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Hamas says it’s fighting for liberation from occupation but is repressing people living under its control.
Other witnesses to the February 28 events told Human Rights Watch said that Hamas security officials threatened to assault journalists who tried to cover the protest and that they had assaulted a journalist trying to cover a similar demonstration on February 11. ”
Within Gaza, Hamas place serious restrictions on books, newspapers and other media according to HRW:
“On January 23, 2011, Hamas police officers entered three bookstores in Gaza City and confiscated copies of two books, saying they were allegedly “against Shari’a” without providing any basis for their actions in written law or court order.
Dr. Talaat al-Safadi, the owner of the Ibn Khaldun bookstore near Al Azhar University in Gaza City, told Human Rights Watch that two police officers in street clothes and another in uniform came to his bookstore and confiscated seven copies of A Banquet for Seaweed, a novel by Haidar Haidar, and one copy of Chicago, a novel by Alaa’ al-Aswany.
“The police didn’t tell me why they were taking the books and I didn’t ask them, but I insisted that they prove they had the right to take them, and eventually they showed me a note from the Ministry of Interior,” al-Safadi said. The police refused to give him a receipt for the books, he said, telling him to go to the al-Abbas police station, which he refused to do.
“A Banquet for Seaweed was written and translated into many languages 20 years ago, and people these days can download novels anyway,” al-Safadi said. “There’s no point in confiscating them.”
Also on January 23, members of the General Investigation Bureau confiscated copies of Chicago and A Banquet for Seaweed from the al-Shurouq bookstore in Gaza City, and Internal Security Service officers ordered employees at the Samir Mansour bookstore, near Gaza City’s Islamic University, not to sell any copies of the novels, said the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, a nongovernmental rights group based in Gaza. “
It is just a matter of time before Hamas start burning books.
(H/T: Adam Holland)
Update 1: Meanwhile in Bahrain, HRW reports:
“We were at the anti-government demonstration in Rifaa, south of Manama, where King Hamad’s palace is located. It turned violent. Several pro-government protesters or Rifaa residents broke through the police line and began chanting and hurling rocks toward the anti-government demonstrators. Some in the latter group reacted and did the same. After a minute or two of these exchanges the police began shooting tear gas in the direction of the protesters and hundreds began running away. I saw lots of teargas, and dozens of people fell on the ground due to inhalation, being struck by canisters, or simply falling over. The firing of tear gas canisters stopped after about a minute, and some protesters went back to the front line again. But after half an hour or so the crowd began to disperse. Ambulances on the scene took some of the injured to the hospital.”
News is just filtering out from Nigeria that some 13 containers of weapons, more than likely destined for Gaza, have just been intercepted.
Update 1: Now some pearls of wisdom from the ‘moderate’ Hamas leader, Mahmoud Al-Zahar.
Mr. Al-Zahar gives Reuters his views:
“”We have the right to control our life according to our religion, not according to your religion. You have no religion, You are secular,” said Zahar, who is one of the group’s most influential and respected voices.
“You do not live like human beings. You do not (even) live like animals. You accept homosexuality. And now you criticise us?” he said earlier this week, speaking from his apartment building in the densely populated, Mediterranean city.”
Engage highlights Hamas’s Holocaust denial:
“Hamas said it believed UNRWA was about to start using a text for 13-year-olds that included a chapter on the Holocaust.
In an open letter to local UNRWA chief John Ging, the movement’s Popular Committees for Refugees said: “We refuse to let our children study a lie invented by the Zionists.”
UNRWA spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna said: “There is no mention of the Holocaust in the current syllabus.” Asked if UNRWA planned to change that, he declined to comment.”
I wonder what Western sympathisers of Hamas will say to that?
My bet is that they’ll probably cough and change the subject rather quickly.
We are often told that those on the Flotilla to Gaza were humanitarians and peace activists, and it is conceivable that some of them were, but news is coming out of a slightly less savoury group of passengers on the Mavi Marmara, fascists.
Well, more accurately neofascists from the Turkish, Büyük Birlik Partisi (BBP)
The BBP is renowned for its connections with the Grey Wolves movement, older readers will remember the activities of those neofascist terrorists in the 1970s and their murderous campaign of bombings and killings.
Not the sort of people that you would immediately associate with humanitarian aid? It doesn’t make much sense, until you remember that they are also renowned for their anti-Jewish racism.
Jean-Yves Camus in an article on the European Extreme Right and Religious Extremism describes the Turkish Extreme Right:
“There are two political parties form the Extreme Right in Turkey: the Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi (MHP) and its youth wing, Bozkurtlar (Grey Wolves), and the Büyük Birlik Partisi (BBP), led by Muhsin Yazicioglu. The former, which is very active in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, and to a lesser extent in France, is secular and mostly concerned about the ethnic essence of the Turkish Nation, although some experts within the German Verfassungschutz believe that there is one “Turkish nationalist” and one “Turkish-Islamist” wing within MHP. The latter split from MHP in 1993 precisely because it felt the party’s Islamist credentials were “weak”. It received 1.02 % in the 2003 general election and did not contest the 2007 election. It operates in Europe under the name of Avrupa Tûrk Birligi, or Verband der Turkischen Kulturvereine E.V. in Europa, and promotes a mix between the Atatürk tradition of nationalism and the Koran. Although BBP seems to have failed politically, while its rival MHP has become Turkey’s third political force with 14.29 % of the vote, the movement is worth monitoring, because of its extreme anti-Kurdish and anti-Armenian propaganda, and also because of its alleged involvement in violent activities.”
Not exactly natural bedfellows for humanitarians or peace activists, but violence would be second nature to these neo-fascists and might explain some of the activities on the deck of the Mavi Marmara?
From the IHH page, applauding the visit offered the BBP leader, Yalcin Topcu:
“Topcu handed over a letter to Bulent Yildirim, General President of IHH, which he wrote to Palestinian President Ismail Haniye, following his speech. After receiving the letter, Bulent Yildirim has offered his thanks to Yalcin Topcu and accompanying members of BBP who do not hesitate to give their support to the campaign. He also mentioned Muhsin Yazicioglu in his speech, deceased former leader of BBP, put great importance into the Palestinian cause and it would be a great honor to deliver the letter written by Yazicioglu’s followers to Palestine and to Ismail Haniye. “
The Z Word blog has more.
Did they deliberately decide to attack the IDF soldiers?
Did their own reckless conduct bring about these unnecessary deaths?
Was the attack premeditated ?
More information is coming out from the ship’s crew which sheds light on the activities of these supposed peace activists:
“According to the clip, released by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, the ship’s captain Mehmut Tuval had attempted to prevent a violent altercation by disposing of metal bars and chains IHH activists had cut ahead of the IDF takeover.
Mehmut said that “once we see that the boats [were] around us…actually not us, but around the total ships…about two hours [before the takeover]… I see they were cutting the steels…chains. And I said to the chief officer, he collected all of them and also we put it in the radio room in the bridge.”
The captain also indicated that he had thrown some of the bars and chains into the sea, while adding that he also asked IHH activists to pass over the bars and chains that had collected later on.
Tuval said he sent his chief officer to ask for the bars, “saying …he cannot take directly from the guys..he spoke with the IHH to collect the [steel bars and chains]…we asked them to drop them, drop in the sea, because if they take it from the bridge that’s when we have a problem…and [after that] we didn’t see any in their hands.”
The Mavi Marmara captain said he was indeed worried that the presence of the makeshift weapons would worsen the situations, adding he thought that nothing would eventually happen since the IHH commanders were at hand to prevent any violence.
“I was worried but if their [leader] on the ship that there would be no effect, nobody will fight… I said many of times because I know the end,” Tuval told investigators, adding that he thought that nothing would happen since there were civilians on the ship/
“I worried [that’s] why I collected the things to the bridge and I take how many I see in their hands and I drop them in the sea.”
Asked whether or not he knew if the IHH activists were preparing a violent welcome to the IDF takeover, Tuval said that “they were preparing to violence against the soldiers: Yeah from what I was informed.” “</blockquotes?