Saturday, June 29, 2013

Al-Jazeera Video: حديث الثورة/ الدعم الخارجي لسوريا، والمشهد المصري

Egyptians to Morsi: "We Don't Want You"

One year after President Mohammed Morsi took office, millions will march across the country on June 30 to demand his removal from office

"Egypt is bracing for June 30. Anticipation for the first anniversary of the inauguration of President Mohammed Morsi has reached a fever pitch, as millions prepare to take to the streets to demand his removal from office. Fears of a showdown between protesters and the president’s supporters have led people to stock up on food and fuel supplies. The military and police are deploying extra forces and barriers around public buildings and army tanks have reportedly taken up positions outside the capital.
One year ago, many Egyptians had hoped the inauguration of the country’s first-ever democratically elected president would mark a turning point following decades of autocratic rule and a turbulent transition. Yet since Morsi took office, the political quagmire has only deepened, the economy has been in decline and daily life has become harder for most Egyptians.
The country is plagued by frequent fuel and diesel shortages that create long lines outside gas stations and cause incapacitating traffic jams. Electricity blackouts have become a daily routine during the hot summer months. Prices for food, medicine and other staple goods have sharply risen as the Egyptian pound has lost 10 percent of its value leaving already impoverished families less to live on. Unemployment is growing, tourism and investment are down sharply, the stock market hit an eleven-month low last week, while insecurity, crime and vigilante violence are on the rise......

While Tamarod organizers doubt Morsi will be forced out of office on June 30, they see the day as the launch of a newly galvanized opposition movement whose strength lies in its grassroots core that is unaffiliated with any political party. “We will continue to escalate like we did against Hosni Mubarak,” campaign spokesman Badr says. “We are calling for an open sit-in in front of the presidential palace, and we can escalate to a general strike and civil disobedience.”....."

Guardian Video: Clashes across Egypt after peaceful protests against President Morsi turn violent

"Police and anti-government protesters, who want the removal of Mohamed Morsi, clash in several cities despite a day of seemingly-peaceful protest in Cairo. Thousands of pro- and anti-Morsi activists held separate rallies to have their voices heard. Two people - one US citizen - were reported killed in Alexandria amid running battles between police and public."

Al-Jazeera Video: Violence flares in Egypt ahead of opposition protests

"An American teacher and an Egyptian journalist were killed in Egypt as clashes erupted during rival demonstrations by tens of thousands of people for and against President Mohamed Morsi a year after his election. AFP reported that at least three people have been killed in the protests in total, with tensions rising ahead of a mass opposition rally planned for Sunday. The US citizen, a 21-year-old who reportedly worked for an American cultural centre in the coastal city of Alexandria, was killed on Friday as he took photographs of a demonstration, officials said."

Friday, June 28, 2013

Video: The Latest Al-Barnameg: البرنامج - الحلقه 29 كامله

Al-Jazeera Video: Live reports from rival rallies in Egypt

UPDATE 2: US citizen stabbed to death in Egypt's Alexandria

Victim, whose name remains unconfirmed, reportedly worked as a journalistic photographer

Ahram Online

"A US citizen was killed in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria on Friday during clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi, bringing the city's total death toll on Friday to two.

The American man died from a stab wound to the chest, according to Amin Ezz El-Din, head of Alexandria's security directorate.
Ezz El-Din said the young American had been taking pictures with his mobile phone near one of the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which President Morsi hails, when he was attacked by unknown assailants.
The victim was rushed to a military hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
Security sources told Ahram Online's correspondent that the victim's name is Victor Andrew. He was a 28-year-old photojournalist.
The details have not yet been officially confirmed.
The report of his death was confirmed by Ibrahim El-Roubi, head of emergencies at Alexandria's health department, along with two other security officials.
In May, American academic Chris Stone was stabbed in the neck outside the US embassy in Cairo. Stone, however, survived the attack.
Stone's attacker, Mahmoud Badr, 30, a commerce graduate, told interrogators that he had travelled to Cairo by train from Upper Egypt's Kafr El-Sheikh with the specific intention of killing a US national, Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website reported.
An Egyptian protester was also killed Friday in Alexandria in clashes between supporters and opponents of President Morsi. "All kinds of weapons, including live fire" were used in the melee, said Ezz El-Din."

We are all fascists

By Bassem Youssef

"“He deserves it,” “we taught them a lesson,” “have anyone appear in the street, and he’ll see what will happen to him.” These statements are from those who are supposed to be Egypt’s liberals, or at least supporters of the civil state, after they beat up Islamist activists. This is not the first such incident.
The truth is, if you are a tourist visiting Egypt and witnessing this, you would ask yourself: “What kind of intellectual people are these, and what kind of dialogue and democracy do they speak of when they resort to violence and brag about winning a street fight?”
But, dear tourist, have you forgotten what previously happened in this country, and what led the sweet, secular liberals to violence and fascism? We have a president who promised that a balanced constituent assembly would work on a constitution that everyone agrees on. We have a president who promised to be representative, but placed members of his Muslim Brotherhood in every position of power.

Broken promises

We have a president and a party that broke all their promises, so the people have no choice but to take to the streets. Brotherhood members and supporters have also taken to the streets - beating up, torturing and besieging people - so their victims have no choice but to confront violence with violence and hatred with hatred.

We were not all like this before, but when you have a group whose members practice violence and obstruct the judiciary and the law, and when you have a president who uses his authority to pardon terrorists and killers of intellectuals, then you have a government that has adopted violence as a methodology, torture as a means, and terrorists as an intimidating factor. So do not be surprised when the rest of the people turn into bloodthirsty fascists.
The dangerous game that the Brotherhood has been playing since day one - exploiting religion for its own benefit - has not only backfired against it, but against a wide segment of religious people.
Mobs no longer differentiate between the Brotherhood and the wider religious community. Anger over the poor economic situation is being directed towards bearded men and fully-veiled women. This did not even happen during the worst days of Hosni Mubarak’s rule, during which the public opposed the government’s persecution of them.
Have you seen what our religious, bearded president has done, dear tourist? He has caused the spread of hatred among people of all social and economic levels. This is the natural result of mixing politics with religion.
Perhaps you can gain votes by presenting yourself as a uniting representative of religion. Maybe you can convince people that your rivals are against God. However, when you fail to keep your promises, anger will be unleashed, and it will burn you and those you have used to intimidate people. If you degrade religion by using it to win the dirty game of politics, do not be surprised when people degrade their behavior when dealing with religion.

Good for you, Mr. President, and good for your group. You have succeeded in uniting people in hatred and racism. We have all become fascists."

François Hollande cosies up to Qatar with his principles in his pocket

The French president's trip to Doha shows he is prepared to sideline his socialism if the petrodollar price is right,
Francois Hollande in Qatar
"....France is certainly in crisis too, with the cost of living spiralling along with the unemployment rate. Domestic recession has combined with the eurozone slump to send Hollande's approval rating into freefall, making him one of the most unpopular presidents in French history.

But just as Sarkozy – a man once laughably dubbed the "Gallic Margaret Thatcher" – achieved next to nothing during his single term in office, apart from a kind of showbiz ignominy (the Paris home he shares with his pop singer wife, Carla Bruni, was raided by anti-corruption police within a few days of him losing presidential immunity from prosecution), so Hollande appears set on a course of unprincipled mediocrity. His relations with Qatar do not necessarily rule out his claim to be a socialist, but they certainly suggest he's prepared to overlook it if the price is right."

No Snowden Anywhere

Rick McKee, Cagle Cartoons, The Augusta Chronicle

Egypt Split ‘Between Egyptians and Islamists’

Analysis by Hisham Allam

"......The new appointments included the controversial decision to award governorship of Luxor to a member of the hardline Islamist group Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya. The move sparked public outrage – it was this group that was believed to have orchestrated the attack on Luxor’s West Bank in 1997 in the Temple of Hatshepsut that killed 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians.
The new appointments have led to a wave of protests in several governorates, and clashes between Brotherhood supporters and opponents. This has led further to general unrest across the country. Clashes continue to erupt nationwide between Morsi’s supporters and ‘rebel’ campaigners in the run-up to the Jun. 30 demonstrations.
There have been several moves to fill top posts with Brotherhood men. Morsi spent more than three weeks looking for his prime minster and then appointed Hisham Qandil, ending up placing both the executive and legislative authority in the hands of the Brotherhood.
Kamal el-Helbawi, formerly a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, told IPS that the failure of the President to implement his promises, and his poor performance were the most important factors behind the anger of the people, and spurred their desire to overthrow him on Jun. 30.
He was not straightforward with the Egyptian people,” the former veteran member of the Brotherhood said. Morsi’s failures began early, he said, and allies who had stood next to him abandoned him after he went back on his promises.
“The biggest problem now,” el-Helbawi told IPS, “is that the President believes that the non-Islamist role ended after the completion of the revolution.” Morsi forgot, he said, that today’s enemies were yesterday’s allies and partners in the revolution."

Torture in Iraq: ‘I did not recognize him because of the torture’

Amnesty International
28 June 2013

"The torture had so disfigured him that even his own mother had trouble recognizing him when she visited him in prison.
But as Ahmad ‘Amr ‘Abd al-Qadir Muhammad’s mother explained, what happened to her son behind bars is not unusual in Iraq.
"For a year I thought he was dead and then I was told that he was in prison. On my first visit I did not recognize him because of the marks of torture on him … The burn on his shoulder, the burn on his leg, the injury from a drill in his arm,” she told Amnesty International.
Her son Ahmad, a Palestinian born in Iraq, was arrested on 21 July 2006 in the Zayouna district of Baghdad, at the height of the sectarian violence that crippled the country, and held incommunicado for more than a year.
The authorities accused him of being a member of an armed group that was planning to plant explosives, and sentenced him to death 17 May 2011 after a trial marred by torture allegations.
When he saw his mother for the first time in a year, in a detention centre in the al-Baladiyat district of Baghdad, he just said:
They tortured me to force me to ‘confess’.”

A medical examination carried out by the Forensic Medical Institute around two years after Ahmad’s arrest documented “brown large scars” on various parts of his body, congruent with his account......."

Syria rebels seize strategic position in Daraa city

The Daily Star

"BEIRUT: Syrian rebels advancing from the Jordanian border seized a strategic army position in the southern city of Daraa on Friday as deadly fighting raged in the surrounding province, activists said.
"They seized two buildings in the provincial capital that regime forces were using to keep the whole city under surveillance," Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman said.
"This is the most important army position that the rebels have seized in Daraa" in 27 months of conflict, Abdel Rahman told AFP.
"The province could act as a key conduit for arms to stream in from Jordan to rebels in Damascus province," he added.
The Los Angeles Times reported last week that US special forces were providing training in Jordan to Syrian rebels, that included instruction in the use of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons.
Officials in Amman denied the report, which came as Washington said it was to begin delivering arms to the rebels.
The rebel advance came as the army stepped up its shelling of rebel-held areas of Daraa province, killing at least four women and four children, the Observatory said.
It also came after five people were killed in a mainly Christian neighbourhood in the historic heart of Damascus on Thursday, the Observatory said, revising an earlier toll."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Analysis: Egypt prepares leap in the dark. Again

Protesters light a poster of President Mohamed Mursi on fire in Tahrir square as they listen to Mursi's public address, in Cairo June 26, 2013. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih
Protesters light a poster of President Mohamed Mursi on fire in Tahrir square as they listen to Mursi's public address, in Cairo June 26, 2013.
Credit: Reuters/Asmaa Waguih
CAIRO | Thu Jun 27, 2013 6:07pm EDT

"CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt is heading for a "dark tunnel", says the head of its armed forces. How he and his generals respond to a political showdown in the streets may determine whether its new democracy survives to see the light.
The warning at the start of the week from General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was presented as a wake-up call to the rival factions, President Mohamed Mursi and his Islamist allies on one side, a disparate coalition of liberals and a mass of Egyptians simply frustrated by economic stagnation on the other.
But the velvet glove of Sisi's language, urging politicians to find consensus and avert bloodshed, could not conceal an iron-fist of possible intervention, even if he was widely believed when he said the generals, secure and prosperous in their new role, have no wish to go back to running the country.
One thing is clear. The "consensus" Sisi urged politicians to reach this week is absent. A vague offer from Mursi of collaboration was met with disdain from the opposition.
So whether the generals step in, with their half million men, U.S.-funded hardware and a 60-year-old sense of entitlement, now depends on how the next few days play out at flash points like Tahrir Square and Mursi's palace in Cairo and on the streets of a dozen other major cities across the country.

The numbers on the street will matter. So too will violence......

The military source who spoke to Reuters said a turnout at opposition protests on the scale of 2011 - many millions drawn from across society and prepared to stay on the streets for days or weeks - could see Mursi obliged to relent: "If the protesters' numbers exceed those seen during the revolution, then everybody's position will have to change," he said.
"No one will be able to oppose the will of the people," he added. "At least, not for long."

Veteran commentator Mohamed Hassenein Heikal, who has close ties to the military, told a television interviewer the army was concerned at a lack of vision for the future among politicians: "The army will always side with the people," he said. "Whether their will is expressed at the ballot box or in some other way."......"

غنتس: سورية تنزف والنيران بدأت تشتعل بعباءة نصر الله


"في كلمته أمام خريجي دورة طيران في سلاح الجو الإسرائيلي، مساء اليوم الخميس، قال رئيس أركان الجيش بني غنتس، إن "سورية لا تزال تنزف دما، وفي لبنان بدأت النار تشتعل بعباءة نصر الله. ومقابل هذا الواقع المتغير يجب أن نكون أكثر جاهزية واستعدادا".
وقال غنتس إن سلاح الجو هو "الذراع الإستراتيجية الدقيقة والفتاكة للجيش، والقادرة على جباية الثمن من كل من يسعى لإيذائنا في كل زمان ومكان".
ونقلت "يديعوت أحرونوت" تصريحاته، مشيرة إلى أن تحديثه بشأن الأمين العام لحزب الله حسن نصر الله تأتي بناء على تقديرات الجيش الإسرائيلي، والتي تشير إلى أن "حزب الله وصل إلى حضيض لم يعرف مثله منذ سنوات". بحسب تقديرات الجيش.
ونقلت الصحيفة عن مصادر في الجيش قولها إن حزب الله فقد نحو 200 مقاتل خلال المعارك مع المعارضة في سورية ولبنان، في حين أصيب الآلاف من مقاتليه.
كما كتبت الصحيفة أنت تقديرات الجيش تقول إن حقيقة أن نصر الله اضطر في خطابه هذا الأسبوع للاعتراف بأن حزب الله يشارك في القتال في سورية لصالح النظام السوري يأتي في إطار فكرة معارضة الحفاظ على قوة حزب الله في المنطقة، وأن هذه الحقيقة، بحسب تقديرات الجيش، تعبير عن معارضة في داخل لبنان لنصر الله بسبب مشاركته في القتال في سورية.
إلى ذلك، كتبت الصحيفة أن قائد سلاح الجو الجنرال أمير إيشيل ألمح في كلمته إلى نشاط الجيش الإسرائيلي خارج الحدود. وبحسبه فإن "الواقع فرض علينا القيام بعمليات كثيرة خلال السنة الأخيرة، غالبيتها بعيدة وخفية عن العين وتقترب من حدود الخيال".
وأضاف أن المطلوب من سلاح الجو أن يكون جاهزا لكل طارئ بما في ذلك اندلاع القتال على أكثر من جبهة واحدة. وقال أيضا إنه لا يوجد فرصة ثانية، وأن سلاح الجو سيرد على كل تهديد يبرز يوميا.  
تجدر الإشارة إلى أن رئيس الحكومة بنيامين نتانياهو شارك في الاحتفال اليوم، وألمح بدوره إلى أن سلاح الجو نفذ عمليات في السنة الأخيرة ضد "جهات معادية في جبهات كثيرة".
وقال نتانياهو إن سلاح الجو جاهز لكل مهمة يطلب منه تنفيذها، سواء كانت بعيدة أم قريبة. وقال "من يجب أن يعرف أننا لا نقول فقط، وإنما نفعل أيضا، يعرف ذلك".
وقال أيضا "في السنة الأخيرة عملنا في جبهات كثيرة، بعضها معلن وبعضها خفي، وفي جميعها تم إنجاز المهمة من قبل طياري وملاحي سلاح الجو".  

Al-Jazeera Video: ما وراء الخبر- خيارات البنتاغون تجاه الأزمة السورية

Ecuador to US: We Won't Be 'Blackmailed' over Snowden

Vowing not to be bullied, nation cancels trade pact preemptively and offers US human rights training

"The clear message from the Ecuadorean government on Thursday is that it would not be bullied or 'blackmailed' by the US government over the possible asylum of Edward Snowden.
At a government press conference held in Quito, officials said the US was employing international economic "blackmail" in its attempts to obtain NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, but that such threats would not work.
Snowden, who remains inside an airport terminal in Russia, has become a flashpoint between Ecuador and the US after confirmation that the 30 year-old intelligence contractor has sought asylum in the Latin American country.

On Wednesday, led by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the US threatened to deny Ecuador preferential trade status if it accepted Snowden's application for political asylum after he leaked a trove of classified documents that revealed details about the NSA's vast surveillance programs in the US and abroad.
“Our government will not reward countries for bad behavior,” Menendez said in a statement from Washington. “If Snowden is granted asylum in Ecuador, I will lead the effort to prevent the renewal of Ecuador’s duty-free access under GSP and will also make sure there is no chance for renewal of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act. Trade preferences are a privilege granted to nations, not a right.”
But on Thursday, Ecuador nullified the US threats—and made it clear it would not be intimidated by the global superpower—by proactively cancelling the trade agreement.
"Ecuador unilaterally and irrevocably renounces these preferential customs tariff rights," government spokesman Fernando Alvarado said at the news conference.
"Ecuador will not accept pressures or threats from anyone, and it does not traffic in its values or allow them to be subjugated to mercantile interests," he said....."

Morsi military trials claims are false: Rights group

'No to Military Trials' rejects President Morsi's claim that no civilians were tried in military courts during his first year in office

Ahram Online

File photo of Egyptian activists with stickers that read: "No to military trials for civilians" at a
File photo of Egyptian activists with stickers that read: "No to military trials for civilians" at a rally. (Photo: AP) 

"The 'No to Military Trials' campaign has criticised President Morsi for claiming no civilians were tried by military courts during his first year in office.

"He claimed no civilians stood trial in military courts during his first year in office – this is untrue," campaign co-founder Mona Seif said via Twitter after the speech on Wednesday night.
Seif added that she had received calls from relatives of detainees after the speech asking her if their loved ones had been released.
Campaign member and human rights lawyer Ragia Omran said via Twitter, "I reject Morsi's statement that no civilians have received military trials during his first year in office. We are in contact with detainees' relatives and there are civilian detainees who are still awaiting military trials."
'No to Military Trials' Facebook page published the names of civilians who are facing or have faced military trials during Morsi's first year in power, such as 17-year-old Mohamed Ihab who was sentenced to 15 years in jail by a military court for attacking an army officer and breaking a curfew.
Activists also criticised Morsi's threat to use his position as armed forces commander-in-chief to sue critics in the media under military law.
"Mubarak tried Muslim Brothers in military courts because civilian courts acquitted them. Today Morsi is threatening to use the same military courts against his opponents," prominent activist Wael Ghonim said via Twitter."

UAE: Reports of systematic torture in jails

"United Arab Emirates state security officers have subjected detainees to systematic mistreatment, including torture, say hand-written letters from detainees smuggled out of jails, Alkarama, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.

The groups obtained 22 statements written by some of the 94 people on trial for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government. The mistreatment described in the letters is consistent with other allegations of torture at UAE state security facilities, and indicates that torture is a systematic practice at these facilities. 

The statements describe conditions in pre-trial detention in varying levels of detail.  Several detainees describe mistreatment that clearly meets the definition of torture as outlined in article 1 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which the UAE ratified in July 2012. “I was beaten with a plastic tube all over my body,” one detainee said. “I was tied to a chair and threatened with electrocution if I didn’t talk. I was insulted and humiliated.”

The UAE’s judicial system will lose all credibility if these allegations are swept under the carpet while the government’s critics are put behind bars,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Unless the government investigates and takes action, it will be hard to avoid concluding that torture is routine practice in the UAE.”......"

Egypt: Lynching of Shia Follows Months of Hate Speech

Police Fail to Protect Muslim Minority

"(New York) – The lynching of four Shia by a mob apparently led by Salafi sheikhs in the village of Abu Musallim in Greater Cairo on June 23, 2013, came after months of anti-Shia hate speech at times involving the ruling Muslim Brotherhood and its political party, Human Rights Watch said today. The episode shows that the government needs to recognize that Shia in Egypt are at risk and to take protective measure to ensure their protection and equal rights.

The investigation ordered by President Mohamed Morsy needs to look into the police failure over a period of three hours to intervene to halt the mob attack on a house where a group of Shia had gathered for a religious feast. The investigation also should address the role played by Salafi sheikhs against Shia families in Abu Musallim, Human Rights Watch said. Morsy should state unequivocally that Shia in Egypt have the right to practice their religious beliefs without fear and intimidation, something he has failed to do, Human Rights Watch said.

“The brutal sectarian lynching of four Shia comes after two years of hate speech against the minority religious group, which the Muslim Brotherhood condoned and at times participated in,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “This horrific incident in Abu Musallim shows that Shia can’t even gather in the privacy of their homes to celebrate and heightens fear of persecution among all religious minorities in Egypt.”

The anti-Shia hate speech by Salafis, who consider Shia Muslims heretics, and the Muslim Brotherhood has been going on for two years, Human Rights Watch said. Muslim Brotherhood members and officials at Al Azhar, Egypt’s main center of Islamic learning and authority, have publicly called for an end to the spread of Shiism in Egypt........"

Further unrest across Egypt's Delta, Morsi speech fails to placate critics

Clashes in Egypt's Nile Delta leave one dead and dozens injured, President Morsi's late-night speech sparks further protests

Ahram Online
mohammed morsi egypt speech
"One person was killed and 298 injured in violence across Egypt's Nile Delta late on Wednesday, health officials confirmed.

In Daqahliya's Mansoura opposition protesters came to blows with hundreds of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group that propelled Mohamed Morsi to power.Two hundred and forty-three were injured in Daqahliya governorate, 53 in Sharqiya and two in Gharbiya in clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi.
Dozens of Brotherhood supporters are still trapped inside Mansoura's Al-Gamieya Al-Sharaiya Mosque by angry residents who have besieged the building since Wednesday afternoon. Police are at the scene but have failed to disperse the protesters.

Morsi's speech

Similar confrontations took place in Gharbiya and Sharqiya on Wednesday night, hours before the president gave a lengthy televised address reviewing his first year in office.
In the Nile Delta's Menoufiya governorate opposition supporters locked horns with around three thousand pro-Morsi protesters in Shibin Al-Koum city.
Morsi acknowledged failures, offered reforms and listed achievements, but otherwise seemed uncompromising amid mounting demands for his removal.

Thousands of angry protesters went on several mass marches in Kafr El-Sheikh governorate after the president's speech, which lasted almost three hours and ended after midnight.
Morsi's address came just two days before planned nationwide protests to demand his removal.
In the canal city of Suez, hundreds of protesters from youth and revolutionary movements took to the streets in the early hours of Thursday to voice their anger at the speech.
In Cairo, thousands gathered outside the defence ministry and in Tahrir Square where big screens had been set up to broadcast the speech.
Some protesters in Tahrir Square held their shoes aloft in a sign of contempt during the speech, while others held up red cards in reference to mounting demands for the president to step down.
Some protesters in Tahrir Square began a sit-in following the speech, setting the stage for protests on 30 June, state news agency MENA reported."

"Moderate" in the White House, by Khalil Bendib

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Media analyst convicted over France-2 Palestinian boy footage

Philippe Karsenty convicted of defamation after accusing state television network of staging video depicting boy being killed

The Guardian,
France 2 footage showing Muhammad al-Dura crying beside his father in Gaza in September 2000
France 2 footage showing Muhammad al-Dura crying beside his father in Gaza in September 2000. Seconds after shots hit the wall over their heads, the boy was fatally struck in the abdomen. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty Images

"A French media analyst has been convicted of defamation for accusing a state television network of staging a video that depicted a Palestinian boy being killed in a firefight between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces.
The footage more than a decade ago galvanised anti-Israeli sentiment, and shaped perspectives of the Middle East conflict during the second Palestinian uprising. The al-Dura case has long stirred emotions in Israel, tapping into a larger sense of the Jewish state being victimised in the media.
The footage by France-2 broadcast on 30 September 2000, showed the terrified boy, Mohammed al-Dura, and his father amid a furious exchange of fire in the Gaza Strip. It then cut to the motionless boy slumped in his father's lap. The report blamed Israeli forces for the death....."

Al-Jazeera Video: French court convicts pro-Israel activist of libel

"A man has been convicted of defamation in France - for his claims about widely-publicised video which showed a Palestinian boy's death."

Egypt’s Fateful Day

The Rule of Democracy or the Rule of the Mob


"........Regardless of which scenario unfolds Egypt will be facing difficult times. But for wisdom and rationality to carry the day, Egyptians of all stripes must come to their senses and realize that no group can ignore or marginalize the others. The MB-dominated government must realize that it must be inclusive and transparent, while the opposition must respect the democratic rules of the political game. If the opposition succeeds in dislodging Morsi, no future president would be able to finish his term in office because the other side would also use the same disrupting tactics. If the opposition groups have millions behind them as they claim, they should head for parliamentary elections as soon as possible. If they win a majority of the seats, they not only could form the next government, but they could also change the constitution, and act as a check to the powers of the president in a democratic and civilized fashion that would earn the world’s respect. But if they opt for the use of violence or undemocratic tactics in order to have their way, then this remarkable revolution would have been in vain- a feat that would delight Mubarak loyalists and Egypt’s enemies."

Russia removes military personnel from Syria: Report

Russian media reveals that Moscow has withdrawn all its military personnel from Syria and left its strategic Tartus naval centre unstaffed because of the escalating security threat in the war-torn country

AFP , Wednesday 26 Jun 2013

"Russia has withdrawn all its military personnel from Syria and left its strategic Tartus naval centre unstaffed because of the escalating security threat in the war-torn country, the Vedomosti daily said Wednesday.

The source said the decision was taken to limit the dangers posed to Russians amid a raging civil war and to reduce the threat of political damage that could result from Russians being killed by either side.The respected business daily cited an unnamed source in the Russian defence ministry as saying that no Russian defence ministry military or civilian personnel were now present in Syria, a Soviet-era ally of Moscow.
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov had appeared to confirm the evacuation of military staff in an interview with the London-published Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat published on Friday.
"Today, the Russian defence ministry does not have a single person in Syria," he said.
"In Tartus, we never had a base in the first place. It is a technical facility for maintaining ships sailing in the Mediterranean," he added.

The facility in the Mediterranean port of Tartus, located in the Alawite Muslim heartland region of President Bashar al-Assad's regime, is Russia's only such asset outside the former Soviet Union.
Created as the result of an agreement between Damascus and Moscow in 1971, the Tartus facility was believed in recent months to have been staffed by just a few dozen Russian defence ministry personnel.
Russia always insisted on calling it not a base but a "point of military-technical supply of the Russian Navy". But analysts have always seen its sheer existence as a huge asset for Moscow......"

Can Rouhani solve 'the Iran nuclear issue'?


".....The Iranian nuclear crisis is no crisis at all. It is a fabricated issue, a red herring, instigated by Israel and its Zionist propagandists in US and Europe to distract attention from their systematic thievery of Palestine. Even if Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, and there is absolutely not a shred of evidence to that effect, Israel is the last entity on planet earth to point a finger at Iran. The only sensible and meaningful solution to the horror of nuclear weapons is a regional and in fact global dismantling of all these WMDs. Not only Iran should not have any nuclear warhead nor should Israel, or Pakistan, or Russia, China, and above all the only country that has actually used it once the United States.

If the "Iranian nuclear crisis" is a red herring, as I propose it is, then what is the issue? Here is the issue: The US/Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey and their more minor allies on one side, with China, Russia, and Iran on the other are vying for power in the midst of the revolutionary conditions that will ultimately endanger all their short term interests. Syria and Syrian people today are the victim of this proxy war between all these unsavoury forces. With the mandate handed him by a massive landslide, will Rouhani decouple Iranian real "national security" interests from this ghastly game and rely on the will of his people to live in peace and with dignity in the world? He has the hopes and aspirations of his people if he were ever to muster the courage to do so. ....."

Qatar: The making of Machiavelli's 'The Prince'

Qatar's emir is an expert in Machiavellian politics


"Eighteen years after executing a bloodless coup that kindled a passion for modernising and rebranding Qatar, Emir Hamad bin Khalifah Al Thani now upgrades statecraft to a new level: a voluntary transfer of power to the younger generation.

Through this masterful "game-changer", Emir Hamad effectively exorcises the ghost of his own father whom he deposed in 1995. More importantly, he sets Qatar on a transitional trajectory for his soon-to-be successor Crown Prince Tamim bin Hamad to follow and measure up to.

Paraphrasing Niccolo Machiavelli, Emir Hamad proves himself not to be the kind of prince motivated by preserving the status quo, but rather by overthrowing it. As Qatar, the Middle East and North Africa, and the world await the transfer, which is expected to be formalised in August, one question remains: How will the 31-year-old Sandhurst-trained Crown Prince Tamim, will borrow this leaf from his father's book?........"

Al-Jazeera Cartoon: The Road to Geneva 2

كاريكاتير: جنيف2

Abbas Scraps Demands as US Threatens to Blame Him for Peace Talks Failure

Will Now Settle for US Lip-Service on 1967 Borders

"Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has abandoned the bulk of his preconditions for peace talks with Israel, according to officials familiar with the situation, after Secretary of State John Kerry threatened to publicly blame him for the talks not restarting.
Abbas had long made his position on the talks clear, wanting the 1967 borders to be used as a “starting point” in the talks, as called for in the Arab League plan the US has been so keen on. He also wanted settlement freezes and the release of certain detainees from Israeli custody.
Now, Abbas has abandoned most of that, saying some US lip-service to the 1967 borders would be good enough, since Israel is clearly never going to agree to it, and that official settlement freezes are unnecessary too, so long as Israel restrains itself a bit from the rapid construction pace of earlier this year.
All that Abbas really wants anymore is the detainee releases, which are supposed to be what sells the process to the Palestinians. Netanyahu is said to be rejecting this condition, however, suggesting that Abbas may still end up with no talks and shouldering all of the official US blame even after giving up virtually everything he wanted."

Lebanon: Police Torturing Vulnerable People

Need Effective Redress, Oversight, Complaints Mechanism

"(Beirut) – Lebanese Internal Security Forces threaten, ill-treat, and torture drug users, sex workers, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in their custody, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The report was released on the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

The 66-page report, “It’s Part of the Job: Ill-treatment and Torture of Vulnerable Groups in Lebanese Police Stations,” is based on over 50 interviews with people arrested for suspected drug use, sex work, or homosexuality over the past five years who reported that members of the Internal Security Forces subjected them to abuse, torture, and ill-treatment. All of the members of these marginalized social groups interviewed by Human Rights Watch faced obstacles to reporting abuse and obtaining redress, leaving the abusers unaccountable for their actions.

Abuse is common in Lebanon’s police stations, but it is even worse for people like drug users or sex workers,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The abuse of prisoners, especially the most vulnerable people in society, isn’t going to stop until Lebanon ends the culture of impunity in its police force.”......"

Young Jordanians back 'honour' killings

Shocking results from survey of teenagers

By Brian Whitaker

"Research by the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University has discovered alarmingly high levels of support for 'honour' killings among Jordanian teenagers. 
Such crimes are a particular problem in Jordan, where government efforts to discourage them have met stiff resistance from traditionalist elements. 
In 2009, for instance, the King Hussein Foundation launched a two-year campaign (funded by the European Commission) with the slogan: "There is no honour in honour crimes". That has clearly had little effect in changing attitudes.
The Cambridge researchers' full report can be purchased online, but here is the university's summary of their findings:

A study into the attitude of teenagers in Jordan’s capital city of Amman reveals that almost half of boys and one in five girls believe that killing a daughter, sister or wife who has ‘dishonoured’ or shamed the family is justified. A third of all teenagers involved in the research advocated honour killing. 
Importantly, the study found that these disturbing attitudes were not connected to religious beliefs. The research is published in the journal Aggressive Behavior.
Researchers surveyed over 850 students, and found that attitudes in support of honour killing are far more likely in adolescent boys with low education backgrounds.
After analysing the data, researchers concluded that religion and intensity of religious belief were not associated with support for honour killing. Instead, the main factors include patriarchal and traditional worldviews, emphasis placed on female ‘virtue’, and a more general belief that violence against others is morally justified....."

عقيد طيار سوري منشق: نظام الأسد لا يملك حاليا أكثر من 90 طائرة مقاتلة


"أسطنبول- (د ب أ): أكد العقيد طيار السوري المنشق زيد طلاس أن “نظام الأسد لا يملك حاليا أكثر من 90 طائرة حوامة ومقاتلة قدرتها النارية والقتالية متفاوتة، أقواها طائرة سوخوي الروسية الصنع التي تستطيع أن تحمل ثمانية أطنان من القنابل”.

وقال طلاس الذين انشق عن نظام الأسد منذ نحو عام ونصف لوكالة الأنباء الألمانية الأربعاء إن “سلاح الطيران في جيش النظام خسر نحو 190 طائرة حوامة ومقاتلة، قدرتها الفنية والعسكرية متفاوتة.. والنظام الآن يتحسب جدا لسلاح الطيران نظرا لحاجته الملحة له”.

وأشار إلى أن النظام السوري لم يكن يملك في السابق اكثر من 350 طائرة بينها ما هو مسجل في القيود لكنها كانت خارج الخدمة.

وأضاف طلاس الذي يقوم بـ”زيارة عمل لتركيا” أن نظام الأسد يستخدم حاليا أهم أربعة مطارات عسكرية بارزة بالنسبة له وهي مطار الضمير في ريف دمشق ومطار الشعيرات شرقي حمص ومطار تي فور بين تدمر ودمشق ومطار تدمر العسكري ، “دون أن نغفل أهمية مطارات أخرى مثل المزة العسكري أو مطارات إضافية منتشرة في مناطق عدة منها أيضا مطار الثعلة جنوبي البلاد”.

وقال طلاس، ابن عم مناف مصطفى طلاس العميد المنشق أيضا عن الحرس الجمهوري في نظام الأسد، إن “تعداد ضباط جيش الأسد، قبل الثورة، كان يصل إلى نحو 36 ألف ضابط، تقريبا 28 ألف منهم من الطائفة العلوية والباقي من السنة والأقليات، أي أن حوالي 75 بالمئة من الأجهزة الأمنية من الطائفة العلوية”.

وأقر العقيد الطيار السوري المنشق انه “لم يشارك في أي عمل عسكري ضد أبناء الشعب السوري”.

وأشار طلاس إلى أن “المعارضة السورية المسلحة الممثلة في الجيش السوري الحر تنتظر تسلم كميات ونوعيات من السلاح قريبا جدا وبعدها ستتغير المعطيات على الأرض كثيرا”.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Presidential Rule by Deception: Obama, the Master Con-man

By James Petras

"Introduction: In an electoral system, run by and for a corporate oligarchy, deception and demagoguery are essential elements - entertaining the people while working for the wealthy....

For sheer span of broken promises, of systematic lies in pursuit of wars and financial manipulation in the name of peace and social justice, of consistent and bold aggrandizement of executive power over the life and death of US citizens in the name of security, Obama has set the standard of political deception and demagogy far beyond past and probable future US Presidents.
The political context of his ascent to power and his deep links to the military-financial-Zionist networks insured his success as a premier confidence man.
President George Bush, Jr., the cringing, fading war-monger engaged in prolonged, costly wars and facing the collapse of the entire banking and financial sector, provided Candidate Obama with an easy target. Obama exploited the mass revulsion of the American people, longing for change. His soaring rhetoric and vacuous promise of ‘change’ attracted millions of young activists … The problem is that in their enthusiasm and blind adherence to ‘identity politics’ with its claims that all ‘blacks’ and ‘women’ are oppressed and therefore guaranteed to promote peace and justice– facilitated Obama’s con-game and political hustle.
Obama, once in office, not only deepened and widened the scope of President Bush, Jr’s wars, massive spy apparatus and corporate profiteering; he bamboozled the vast majority of his liberal-labor supporters in the Democratic Party! Barack Obama conned the Democratic Party Congressional liberals and they, in turn, conned their constituents into supporting this fraud.
The costs of President Obama’s two-faced policies are enormous: democracy has given way to a police state openly defended by the President and Congressional leaders; Wall Street’s recovery and corporate profiteering is fast destroying public health and social security...........

Unmasking the con-man is a first step requiring that we expose the tricks of the con-game. The politics of deception and demagogy thrives by directing popular attention to style and rhetoric, not substance. The solemn and pious cant of ‘Jimmy’ Carter distracted from his launch of the rabid Jihadists against the secular administration of Afghanistan. Uncle Ronald Reagan’s geniality and populist TV patter covered-up his blood baths in Central America and mass firing of the unionized air controllers and jailing of union leaders. ‘Bill’ Clinton’s show of empathy for the poor and embrace of ‘feel-good’ politics neutralized opposition as he bombed Yugoslavia into a pre-industrial age while his domestic policies kicked vulnerable single mothers from welfare programs. They all paled before the grand con-master Obama, billed as the ‘first black’ President, a community organizer (who disowned his sponsor into the black communities of Chicago, Rev. Wright, for his anti-war, anti-imperial stand) has capitalized on his racial credentials to garner the vote of guilt-ridden, soft-headed liberals and marginalized blacks in order to serve the interests of Wall Street and Israel....."

VIDEO: Anti-Morsi activists take Egypt's 'Rebel' signature drive underground

Egypt's anti-government 'Rebel' campaign appears to receive warm welcome from Cairo metro passengers, despite fears that upcoming 30 June rallies will be accompanied by violence

Ahram Online

".....Egypt is bracing for the highly anticipated anti-government protests on 30 June, called for by 'Rebel' campaigners, to demand the president's resignation and snap elections.

The campaign accuses Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, of "failing to implement policies to improve the life of ordinary people," citing Egypt's increasingly dire economic situation.

"Rebel" announced earlier this week that it would hold rallies inside Cairo’s metro on Tuesday and Wednesday in the run up to 30 June. Many metro passengers who were stopped by campaign members told them they had already signed the petition....."

Egypt state media outlets blast Muslim Brotherhood 'interference'

Employees of state broadcaster and editor-in-chief of leading state daily decry alleged interference by Muslim Brotherhood, presidency in editorial policy

Ahram Online

"Egyptian state television employees are gathering votes calling for the dismissal of presidential media representative Ahmed Abdel-Aziz after accusing him of "interfering with editorial policy," Amer El-Wakil, news editor at the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (Maspero), said according to Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website.

Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist demonstrators gathered in a massive rally on Friday to support the president against expected mass protests slated for next week. The event received generous coverage on Egyptian television, while parallel counter-rallies by the opposition were largely ignored.Al-Wakil said on private-owned satellite television channel ONtv that Abdel-Aziz, who represents the presidency for media affairs, had demanded last Friday that coverage of upcoming protests should be restricted to pro-government rallies, while ignoring planned opposition protests against President Mohamed Morsi.
Maspero employees attempted to explain to Abdel-Aziz that opposition protests, too, especially one held at the Ministry of Defence, must also be covered, according to El-Wakil. He added, however, that he had been snubbed by Abdel-Aziz, who insisted that his initial instructions be followed.
According to Al-Ahram, El-Wakil said that the head of news at Maspero did not come to work on Saturday to protest alleged interference by the presidency.
Earlier, state-owned daily Al-Akhbar's chief editor, Mohamed Hassan El-Banna, criticised the Muslim Brotherhood – from which President Morsi hails – saying he had been contacted by one of the group's members who had condemned the paper's coverage.
"Some imagined that Al-Akhbar, as a newspaper falling under the auspices of the government ... will say 'Amen' to whatever the government says and conceal facts and information about the regime, deceiving its readers," El-Banna said, defiantly stating the impossibility of this scenario.
The Muslim Brotherhood and presidency are accused by Egypt's opposition of trying to wrest control of Egyptian state institutions in an attempt to impose single-party rule like its predecessor, ousted president Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party......"

Video: Salafist mob kills Shia Muslims in Egypt - Truthloader


"Four Shia worshippers were killed in a village near Cairo, Egypt on 23 June when a Salafist mob stormed the house in which they were gathered. Citizen journalist Hazem Barakat was there at the scene and describes what he saw."

Danger! Sunni-Shiite Sectarian Fight. By Emad Hajjaj

Click on the Cartoon to send it to a friend!

Best laid plans: Egypt's Islamist project on the brink

Despite decades of planning for Egypt's eventual transition into an Islamic state, only two years of post-revolution politics appear to have put paid to the Muslim Brotherhood's longed-for Islamist renaissance

Ahram Online

"As Egypt's first freely chosen president took the stage last summer, the thousands arrayed in Cairo's Tahrir Square roared their approval. After a knife's-edge vote, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi had clinched the country's most powerful civilian position – the secretive Islamist organization’s goal for over eight decades. Now, surely, an Islamic state was within its grasp.

But one year on, Morsi's unofficial inauguration in downtown Cairo seems more like the pinnacle of the Islamists' power then the emergence of a Sharia-compliant Egypt.

In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood’s dream of establishing an Islamic state in Egypt is nowhere close to becoming a reality. Some experts believe that, not only has Morsi’s first year in power tarnished the image of the 85-year-old group, but that of all Islamists......"

Amnesty urges Morsi to protect Egypt’s Shias

President Mohamed Morsi remained silent over sectarian hate speech before killing of 4 Shia Muslims by mob in Giza, Amnesty International says

Ahram Online

Amnesty International has warned of rising sectarian violence against Egypt’s Shia Muslims after Sunday's mob killing in Giza.

“Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi must urgently tackle the unprecedented level of sectarian violence against Shia Muslims and ensure they are protected from further attacks,” Amnesty’s statement read.The attack took place, allegedly led by Salafist sheikhs, in the village of Zawyat Abu Musalam. Hundreds of people surrounded the house of a local Shia leader after hearing he was hosting a religious gathering. The mob then beat him and his guests and set the house on fire, killing four.
Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International, demanded Egyptian authorities immediately order an investigation into the killings and “send a clear message that carrying out attacks and inciting violence against Shia Muslims will not be tolerated.”
Sahraoui criticised the police's failure to stop the killings and questioned whether hate speech played a role in inciting the mob.
Amnesty said eyewitness accounts show police officers and members of the Central Security Forces were present at the scene but failed to rescue the victims.
Accounts also allege that Salafist and other Islamist groups have been inciting hatred and violence against Shia over the past few weeks, including during Friday sermons and by distributing pamphlets calling for their expulsion from the area, the report stated.
Amnesty also mentioned that during a conference on 16 June attended by President Morsi in support of the Syrian revolution several prominent Sunni sheikhs, including Sheikh Mohamed Hassan, used sectarian speech against Shias, and Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya’s Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud called them “unclean.”
“By not disassociating himself and his government from the hatred and incitement against Shias expressed during an event at which he was a speaker, President Morsi failed to signal that attacks against Shia Muslims will not be tolerated,” Sahraoui said in a press statement.
“It is deeply troubling to think of security forces standing still in the face of such gruesome violence. Only political will can stop this pattern of inaction during sectarian violence,” she added.
President Morsi and Islamist parties have come under fire since the killings on Sunday, which many blame on sectarian hate speech.
Egyptians against Religious Discrimination, an independent group fighting sectarianism in Egypt, on Monday denounced what it described as a series of sectarian crimes under Muslim Brotherhood rule."

USA must not hunt down whistleblower Edward Snowden

"The US authorities must not prosecute anyone for disclosing information about the government’s human rights violations, Amnesty International said after Edward Snowden was charged under the Espionage Act.

The organization also believes that the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower could be at risk of ill-treatment if extradited to the USA.

"No one should be charged under any law for disclosing information of human rights violations by the US government. Such disclosures are protected under the rights to information and freedom of expression," said Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International.

"It appears he is being charged by the US government primarily for revealing its and other governments’ unlawful actions that violate human rights.”......."

Qatar's emir hands power to his son

... but autocracy continues

By Brian Whitaker

"is widely seen as a milestone – and rightly so. It breaks the long-standing Arab tradition of leaders who cling to power until the drop, or are forcibly removed from office.

Sheikh Hamad came to power in 1995, removing his father in a palace coup. His father was then 63.
Sheikh Hamad has decided to go a couple of of years earlier – he is now 61 – by voluntarily handing over to his son, Sheikh Tamim.

Sheikh Hamad's decision to step down has certainly set an example, though it's probably one that other Arab rulers will choose not to follow and Qatar still remains under autocratic rule.

Qataris have now begun pledging their allegiance to Sheikh Tamim – not that they have much choice in the matter. Ordinary citizens still have no say in choosing their leader and it appears that the country's first elections for a consultative assembly (not a real parliament) which were due to be held later this year have now been postponed as a result of the transition."

Monday, June 24, 2013

Lebanon clashes are new sign of region's strengthening sectarianism

Conflicts between hardline Sunni groups and Lebanese army are direct challenge to authority of fragile state,

    ".........The call to arms was a response to Nasrallah's speech on 25 May, in which he acknowledged his group's large-scale role in the border town of Qusair. His tone was perceived by some in the Sunni world as a direct challenge. And, ever since, an already grave situation in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon has been steadily worsening.

    Lebanese identity, only tenuously tied to the notion of nation state even in the best of times, is lurching ever closer to sect. In Iraq's Anbar province, Sunni resentment at the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad is palpable and an insurgency is again raging.

    All the while, a potent form of sectarianism appears to be calcifying well beyond the Levant. In Egypt, four Shias were killed and dozens wounded when their small community was stormed on Sunday. In Saudi Arabia, the eastern areas populated by Shias are again restive and fearful.

    In Bahrain, the scene of a failed Shia revolt against a Sunni-led monarchy in 2011, the effects of the latest regional deterioration are being keenly felt.
    Now it's getting serious."

    Where is Edward Snowden? Glenn Greenwald on Asylum Request, Espionage Charge; More Leaks to Come

    Democracy Now!

    "The international mystery surrounding National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has deepened after the former U.S. intelligence contractor failed to board a flight as expected from Moscow to Havana today. Snowden reportedly arrived in Moscow Sunday after fleeing Hong Kong. The developments come just days after the United States publicly revealed it had filed espionage charges against Snowden for theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and wilful communication of classified communications intelligence to an unauthorized person. “The idea that he has harmed national security is truly laughable,” says Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, who broke the NSA surveillance stories. “If you go and look at what it is that we published, the only things that we published were reports that the U.S. government was spying not on the terrorists or the Chinese government, but on American citizens indiscriminately.”.........."

    Egypt's Islamists under fire over Shia mob killings

    Salafist Nour Party condemns recent violence but warns against 'insulting and demonising' figures revered by Sunni Muslims

    Ahram Online
    Mob attacks Shias in their home in Egypt's Giza district leaving 4 killed 

    "Giza prosecutors have ordered the arrest of 15 people implicated in the murder of four Egyptian Shias in attack by Sunni Muslims in a Giza village on Sunday, an incident which has heightened sectarian tensions in an already polarised country......

    Inflammatory anti-Shia rhetoric by some hardline Islamist clerics has been on the rise recently, apparently as a result of the growing conflict in Syria, as well as a recent thaw in Egypt-Iran ties.....

    While some critics blame the Salafist-oriented Nour Party for igniting anti-Shia sentiment, the party has rejected any suggestion of involvement.
    "We have warned the regime about looming sectarian friction, amid acts of insulting and demonising the Sahabah [the companions of the Prophet Mohamed] which will shock the fabric of Egyptian society, but it paid no heed," party spokesman Nader Bakkar said via Twitter late on Sunday.......

    The hardline group, Egypt's second-largest Islamist political party after the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, has been largely blamed for the rising extremist rhetoric against Shia Muslims, with its statements warning against a potential spread of Shiism in Egypt......

    The Salafist Call, Egypt's largest Salafist movement in Egypt, has also been accused of arousing anti-Shia sentiment in sermons it sponsored as well as posters emblazoned with its logo seen across different cities demonising the sect and its followers......

    The already embattled president has been censured by his opponents for failing to curb sectarian utterances against Shia Muslims made by his Islamist backers at a Syria solidarity conference last week, during which he announced that Egypt would cut diplomatic ties with Damascus........

    The Egyptians against Religious Discrimination, an independent group fighting religious sectarianism in Egypt, denounced in its statement in response to the violence what it described as a series of sectarian crimes under the Muslim Brotherhood's rule.
    Morsi’s rule “opened the door for sectarian strife between Egyptians,” claimed the Monday statement."

    Al-Jazeera Video:Bradley Manning: Truth on trial?

    "This week, a special edition of the Listening Post with a special report on Bradley Manning and an exclusive interview with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange from inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London."

    Egyptian government faces blame in mob sectarian killing

    "(Reuters) - Egypt's government promised "exemplary punishment" on Monday after the mob killing of four Shi'ite Muslims near Cairo raised fears of wider sectarian bloodshed at a time of grave national crisis.
    But Shi'ite minority leaders and the liberal opposition accused the government itself, dominated by the Sunni Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, of whipping up sectarian anger over the war in Syria as a means of appeasing its own hardline Salafist allies.

    President Mohamed Mursi, under pressure from the army to end broader factional violence, condemned "this heinous crime" and promised "swift justice". Al-Azhar, Cairo's leading Sunni religious establishment, said the killings were contrary to the teachings of Islam and urged "harshest punishment".

    In Sunday's violence in the suburb of Zawiyat Abu Musallem, in sight of the Giza pyramids, a crowd ransacked and torched the house of a family, whose members told Reuters the attack began when a Shi'ite dignitary visited them for a religious festival.

    They yelled "Infidels!", said one woman who survived and who complained that police failed to intervene during the frenzied violence in the house and rubbish-strewn alley outside. "The Salafis and the Brotherhood - they're the ones who attacked us," added the woman, clearly in shock, sitting in her wrecked home.

    A video posted online by rights activists showed dozens of men and youths looking on as several others drag the bloodied body of at least one man along a street, one pulling on what may be a rope around his neck. In other sequences from the events on Sunday, a squad of riot police is present and a group of black-robed women on a crowded, narrow street chant "No God but God!"
    Tensions are running high across Egypt between the government and opponents who plan major rallies this weekend to demand Mursi resign. There has been scattered political violence and the army, which effectively ran Egypt for decades before the 2011 revolution, warned it would step in to quell any unrest.
    A government statement issued for Prime Minister Hisham Kandil said he "strongly condemned the terrible incident" and a accused the attackers of importing "sectarian strife" of a kind alien to Egyptian society. He would "ensure justice is done and that the culprits are made examples of by deterrent punishment".
    But Mohamed Ghoneim, a leading figure in a Shi'ite community of a few hundred thousand, was quoted by state newspaper website al-Ahram saying the Muslim Brotherhood was trying to appease hardline Salafist allies by not shielding Shi'ites from attack.
    Liberal opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood also accused the movement and President Mursi of stirring up sectarian passions by joining this month in Sunni calls for jihad against Syria's president and his Shi'ite allies from Lebanon and Iran.
    The opposition Dustour Party said in a statement that it saw "this heinous crime as a direct result ... of the disgusting religious hate speech that goes on escalating with the knowledge of the regime and the blessings of the president".
    But Essam el-Erian, deputy leader of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, insisted the movement condemned the killings - comparing them to the deaths of its own Islamist allies and supporters in factional clashes in recent days.
    "It is forbidden to Muslims to spill Egyptian blood," he wrote on Facebook. "All Egyptian blood - Muslim or Christian, man or woman, Sunni or Shi'ite, civilian or police. Whoever takes part in shedding blood, even in words ... or by hate speech, is taking part in a terrible crime."
    He said Egypt would not slip into civil war and that the army stood ready to step in and defend the nation.
    Mursi and the Brotherhood angered their Salafist allies by trying to improve ties with Shi'ite Iran since Mursi was elected a year ago. But as the Syrian civil war has inflamed sectarian passions across the Middle East, Mursi and the Brotherhood joined a Sunni conference in Cairo this month that condemned President Bashar al-Assad and his Shi'ite allies.
    Mohamed Zarea of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, said of the mob violence: "This did not just come from incitement by individuals but also the government. After the Syria conference, there was direct incitement against Shi'ites.""

    أهالي قرية مصرية يفاخرون بضرب أربعة شيعة حتى الموت وسحلهم

    عرب48 /وكالات

    "أبدى عدد من اهالي قرية مصرية شعورهم بالفخر بعدما اقدم المئات من سكانها على الاعتداء على أربعة من الشيعة وضربهم حتى الموت وسحلهم بسبب انتمائهم المذهبي، في أول اعتداء عنيف وكبير ضد الشيعة في مصر بعد انتشار التحريض ضد هذه الاقلية مؤخرا.

    وقال شهود عيان ومصادر امنية لفرانس برس ان مئات من اهالي قرية زاوية ابو مسلم في مركز ابو النمرس في محافظة الجيزة (نحو 30 كيلومتر جنوب العاصمة القاهرة) حاصروا واعتدوا على منزل احد شيعة القرية بعدما علموا بتواجد القيادي المصري الشيعي حسن شحاتة فيه برفقة اخرين. وحاول الاهالي حرق المنزل المتواجد في حارة ضيقة بزجاجات المولوتوف لكنهم فشلوا في ذلك.

    واسفر الاعتداء عن مقتل شحاتة وشقيقه واثنين آخرين وجميعهم من خارج القرية، بالاضافة إلى اصابة خمسة اشخاص آخرين.

    ويعد الشيخ حسن شحاتة (66 عاما) أحد ابرز القيادات الشيعية في البلاد، وسبق وان سجن مرتين خلال عهد الرئيس المصري السابق حسني مبارك بتهمة ازدراء الاديان، بحسب ما اكد عدد من اتباع هذا المذهب لوكالة فرانس برس.

    وقال الشيعي ضياء محرم باكيا ان “شحاتة كان يحضر احتفالا دينيا مع شيعة القرية بمناسبة ليلة النصف من شعبان”.

    وقال النجار ياسر يحيى لفرانس برس “عندما علم الاهالي ان حسن شحاتة في القرية طلبوا من صاحب المنزل تسليمه لهم، لكنه رفض ما جعلهم يهاجمون المنزل”.

    واضاف ان “الاهالي احضروا مطارق ضخمة وهدموا جزءا من حائط المنزل واخرجوا الشيعة واحدا تلو الاخر ثم قتلوهم ضربا في تلك الساحة”، مشيرا إلى ساحة كبيرة أمام ورشته شهدت واقعة السحل والقتل.

    وقال مصمم الاثاث سامح المصري “حاولت انقاذهم لكن الاهالي كانوا مصممين على قتلهم”، وتابع “سحلوهم حتى مدخل القرية.. لقد كانت لحظات بشعة”.

    وقال شهود عيان لفرانس برس إن مئات الاهالي كانوا يرددون “الله اكبر.. الله اكبر” و”الشيعة كفار” اثناء الاعتداء على الشيعة وسحلهم في الشارع.


    وسحل الاهالي الجثث إلى خارج القرية حتى سيارات الامن المركزي التي نقلت الجثث الاربع الى المشافي، بحسب شهود عيان.
    وتوجد نحو 20 اسرة شيعية في قرية ابو مسلم. ويتهم الاهالي القيادي الشيعي شحاتة بنشر المذهب الشيعي بين اهلها.

    وقال احد اهالي القرية لفراني برس طالبا عدم ذكر اسمه ان “الغضب كبير ضد شحاتة لانه تسبب في اعتناق عدد من شباب القرية للمذهب الشيعي مؤخرا”.

    واستخدم اهالي القرية، ومعظمهم لا تبدو عليهم مظاهر التدين، كلمة “كفار” لوصف الشيعة اثناء حديثهم عنهم امام مراسل فرانس برس الذي زار القرية.

    ولم يظهر الاهالي أي ندم او خجل من الواقعة، لا بل ان شباب القرية راحوا يتبادلون في ما بينهم مقاطع فيديو لسحل الشيعة الاربعة بفخر وحماس واضح.

    وقال المدرس محمد اسماعيل وهو يجلس امام منزله “نحن سعداء بما حدث. وكنا نتمنى ان يحدث منذ زمن”.

    وعادة ما يجد العنف الطائفي والمذهبي بمصر ارضا خصبة في المناطق القروية خارج المدن مثل قرية ابو مسلم الفقيرة والعشوائية.

    ويتهم الشيعة الدولة في مصر بعدم توفير الحماية لهم خاصة من مضايقات وتحريض السلفيين مذهبيا ضدهم. كما يشكون تعرضهم لتحريض مذهبي علني في القنوات الدينية.
    وخلال مؤتمر حاشد للاسلاميين عقد قبل اسبوع ل”نصرة سوريا” بحضور الرئيس محمد مرسي، تحدث احد قيادات الحركة السلفية، الشيخ محمد عبد المقصود، واصفا ب”الانجاس من يسبون صحابة النبي” محمد، في اشارة واضحة الى الشيعة.

    وقال بهاء أنور، المتحدث باسم شيعة مصر لفرانس برس “احمل الرئيس مرسي المسؤولية كاملة لما حدث لان هناك تحريضا طائفيا مستمرا ضد الشيعة في زاوية ابو مسلم منذ اسبوعين ولم يتدخل احد رغم ابلاغنا السلطات”.

    وقال أنور “الدولة تتخاذل مع دعوات التحريض ضدنا بل وتتبناها. ما حدث نتيجة لتحريض منظم ضد الشيعة في مصر وتشترك فيه الدولة”، واضاف ان “الشرطة لم تحم الشيعة المحاصرين رغم تواجدها في القرية”.

    وقال بائع الطيور عبد الله حجازي ان “الشرطة كانت موجودة خلال الاعتداء لكنها لم تتدخل لمنعه”.

    لكن اللواء عبد العظيم نصر الدين، نائب مدير أمن الجيزة، قال لفرانس برس “حاولنا التدخل لكن التجمهر الكبير للاهالي والشوارع الضيقة منعتنا من التقدم لتفريق الحشود”.

    وتابع وهو جالس بين قواته خارج القرية “الاهالي هاجمونا بالشوم والسنج (السكاكين) ما اضطرنا للانسحاب”.

    واكد اللواء نصر الدين ان “الشرطة نجحت في اخراج 25 شيعيا من المنزل المحاصر وهو ما قلل من عدد الضحايا”.
    وحتى الساعة لم يصدر اي تعليق رسمي من الحكومة على الحادث.

    من جهته قال الدكتور محمد البرادعي رئيس حزب الدستور الليبرالي المعارض في تغريدة على صفحته على موقع تويتر ان “قتل وسحل مصريين بسبب عقيدتهم نتيجة بشعة لخطاب ديني مقزز ترك ليستفحل”.

    وتنتمي الاغلبية الساحقة من المسلمين في مصر للمذهب السني، علما بان العاصمة القاهرة اسستها الدولة الفاطمية الشيعية التي حكمت مصر لسنين قبل نحو الف عام.

    ولا يوجد احصاء دقيق معلن لعدد الشيعة في مصر. وبحسب تقرير الحريات الدينية الذي اصدرته الخارجية الاميركية في العام 2006 فان الشيعة يشكلون أقل من 1% من عدد سكان مصر البالغ في حينه 74 مليون نسمة اي نحو 740 الف شخص.

    وظهرت بوادر تشدد مذهبي في مصر مع الصعود السياسي للحركات السلفية التي حصلت على اكثر من 20 في المئة من مقاعد البرلمان المصري في اول انتخابات تشريعية بعد اسقاط حسني مبارك عام 2011.

    وانتشر اخيرا توزيع سلفيين لمنشورات وكتيبات تحذر من الخطر الشيعي ومحاولة الشيعة نشر مذهبهم في مصر.


    Al-Jazeera Cartoon: Sunni-Shia Fight

    كاريكاتير: سنة وشيعة

    Al-Jazeera Video: Brazil's protest organisers sense sabotage

    US Interference

    Patrick Chappatte, Cagle Cartoons, The International Herald Tribune

    Syria: Detention and Abuse of Female Activists

    Women Detail Torture and Abuse by Government in New Testimonies

    June 24, 2013

    "(New York) – Syrian military and pro-government forces known as shabiha have arbitrarily detained female opposition activists as well as female relatives and neighbors of pro-opposition activists and fighters, and in a number of cases, subjected them to torture and sexual abuse.

    Human Rights Watch interviewed 10 Syrian women who were detained, either due to their own engagement in activities related to government opposition, or that of their family members. Eight were themselves activists who had been detained, all of whom said that security forces and shabiha had abused or tortured them in detention. The abuse included electric shocks, keeping them in stress positions, and using metal rods, wires and nightsticks to beat and torture them. The eight women had attended peaceful demonstrations, created posters for opposition groups, provided humanitarian aid and medical care to those affected by the conflict, transported defectors from the Syrian military, and assisted displaced Syrians. All said security forces detained them at checkpoints or during home raids, and held them for periods lasting up to nearly 14 months between February 2012 and April 2013. In two cases, the women said their captors raped them while they were detained at the Military Intelligence Branch in Tartous, and the Air Force Intelligence Branch in Mezze, Damascus.....

    “Beyond the daily gun battles, women have been a powerful voice in the opposition in villages and towns across Syria,” said Liesl Gerntholtz, women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. “In response, the Syrian government is punishing women for delivering humanitarian assistance, participating in protests, and supporting the opposition by subjecting them to detention, torture, and sexual assault.”....."