Charities that fund the settlers; Egypt's vanishing migrants; Christmas extravagance in the Gulf, and an unhappy New Year
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 23 December 2010
"This is the start of a regular weekly look at the Middle East, focusing on some of the issues and stories that you may have missed......
As it turned out, the report on Israel didn't get a lot of media coverage, probably because it only confirmed what most people know already. The US state department, for example, noted: "Many of the issues covered in the HRW report are also covered in great detail in the state department's annual Human Rights Report."
But one important point from HRW's report has been largely ignored. This concerns the way illegal settlement activity is subsidised by American taxpayers through tax-exempt charities. The report urges Congress to investigate and "ensure that tax-exempt status is not granted to organisations that facilitate human rights violations or violations of international humanitarian law"......
No Saudi celebrations: And a miserable New Year to you all. That's the seasonable message from Saudi Arabia's religious police, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
Bang on cue, they have warned that anyone caught celebrating New Year in public will be punished – along with any shops selling "items symbolising the occasion".
Now, I know they don't like Valentine's Day or Halloween (though, judging by a recent WikiLeaks document, they have trouble keeping the damper on that), but what exactly is wrong with New Year? Where in the Qur'an does it say you can't have a party at midnight on 31 December?......"