Muataz Washaha: Murdered by Israel as “peace” talks continue

The funeral of Muataz Washaha in Birzeit.

Words fail me. There are no words that can do justice to the martyrs that fall every day, the pain that intensifies in our hearts, the floods of tears from the oppressed. Words lose their strength for a Palestinian people who face a daily stuggle to survive under a brutal occupation that doesn’t recognize their most basic human rights.

What is more painful and disappointing is that our supposed “leadership” is complicit in these ongoing crimes and shamelessly provides the first line of impunity and defense for the Israeli occupation to continue attacking and terrorizing us. Very aware of how the situation is deteriorating to an intolerable extent, the leadership stays committed to meaningless negotiations that bring no justice to us or to our martyrs. Israel has killed forty Palestinians since the beginning of US-backed negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

Before our people go to sleep each night, we always hope for a brighter morning with more security, freedom and justice. But everyday we wake up to witness more darkness, more brutality and more violations of our rights.

Cruel attack

On the morning of 27 February, we woke up to the news of an Israeli military raid on the central West Bank village of Birzeit, near Ramallah. The village lies very close to the Muqataa compound, where the Palestinian Authority lives with a delusion of having authority, guarded by an “army” unable to provide any sense of security to its people.

The Israeli forces besieged a house belongs to Washaha family, forcibly evacuated its residents and those of neighboring houses, destroyed parts of it and set the rest on fire.

Even more cruelly, the military kept its people watching as their belongings and memories burned and as Muataz Washaha, who was active in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was attacked.

The Israeli occupation forces had stormed the Washaha family’s house, looking for Muataz. They assaulted members of the Washaha family and detained his brother, Ramiz, as well as his friends Fadi Sedqi and Samir al-Qaisi.

A few months passed since 24-year-old Muataz Washaha was released from an Israeli jail. He knew very well what being imprisoned meant for he refused to surrender to the Israeli military. He prefered to barricade himself in a corner of his house and resist arrest. He chose to die within his home, where he had spent his childhood and youth.

“Do not worry”

“I will be free here. Leave and do not worry about me. I will stay here and not surrender. I will not return to prison.” These were the last words Muataz Washaha uttered to a civil defense worker, who was the last person to have access to him before the house was evacuated of everyone else.

The civil defense man had no choice than to kiss Muataz’s forehead and leave, respecting his wish.

Soon afterwards, the Israeli military located Muataz with its sophisticated technology and started shooting live bullets and shells at him. He was called on to turn himself in but Muataz would not. This unequal confrontation lasted for six hours, which were enough to kill Muataz a thousand times.

After the withdrawal of the Israeli forces,  Muataz’s body was found torn by tens of live bullets. His head had been hit by a rifle-fired Energa shell.

According to the Israeli military, Muataz Washaha was killed because he was “suspectedof terror activity.” How ridiculous to read such a statement.

After the countless acts of terror the occupation forces have committed against the Palestinian people, they should be the last ones to speak about terror or define what terror is.

Daily injustices

Observing the daily injustices that our people have to endure makes me frustrated — or, rather enraged — not against the occupation but against the Palestinian Authority. The question that I am wondering about is: what will be the reaction of the Palestinian Authority to the murder of Muataz Washaha?

Isn’t it the time for Mahmoud Abbas to be ashamed of himself for his commitment to the “security” of Israel and his declarations that it is “the utmost important challenge that the Palestinian security forces are dealing with”?

Why is the “peace process” continuing, when it is very obvious that Israel is not interested in peace?

The systematic ethnic cleansing process continues against our people in Jerusalem and settlements continue to expand as more “peace” talks take place. It is time for the PA to turn to the Palestinian people and stop compromising our rights.

The PA has to understand that our fight is about liberation and justice, not about a state and a flag, luxurious embassies all over the world, a few privileges or a travel document. Back in 1993, Edward Said wrote: “We should remind ourselves that much more important than having a state is the kind of state it is.”

Said insisted that “no negotiations are better than endless concessions that simply prolong Israeli occupation.”

Sadly, this is what we see happening on ground. More negotiations lead to more concessions.

(Source / 28.02.2014)

World must stop financing Israeli regime: O’Leary

The entire world must cut financial aid to the Israeli regime and put an end to its racist policies against Palestinians, a political commentator tells Press TV.

“We need to pull the financial rug from underneath Israel the way we did it with South Africa. The financial rug must be pulled. Israel must be made accountable to the international community,” Anna O’Leary said in an interview with Press TV on Thursday.

She added that Israel is receiving USD 11 million a day from the United States, where the powerful Zionist lobby – the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – is based.

A global campaign has been launched for the boycott of Israeli-made products in the occupied Palestinian territories.

In January, two of Europe’s largest banks, Nordea Bank of Sweden and Danske Bank of Denmark, announced that they would terminate all joint operations with Israeli banks, which deal with the settlements that Israel is building in the West Bank.

“The world is fed up with the myth that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, when in fact Israel is a cruel body of people engaged in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine,” said O’Leary.

She said the Tel Aviv regime has been moving ahead with its “ethnic cleansing” in the occupied territories.

Israel occupied the Palestinian territories of East al-Quds (Jerusalem), the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank during the Six-Day War of 1967. The Tel Aviv regime withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but Israeli forces have been carrying out regular deadly forays into the sliver ever since the pullout.

(Source / 28.02.2014)

Amnesty: pattern of Israeli “war crimes” in West Bank

Israeli soldiers seize a Palestinian man in Jalazoun refugee camp earlier this month.

Evidence suggests that Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are guilty of “wilful killings, which would amount to war crimes,” according to a new report published by the human rights group Amnesty International.

The report – “’Trigger-happy’ Israeli army and police use reckless force in the West Bank” – documents Israel’s excessive killings and brutalization of Palestinians in the West Bank over a three-year period. From January 2011 through December 2013, as a result of Israeli forces’ use of live ammunition, 41 Palestinians were killed, and at least 261 were  injured.

Among those killed by live ammunition was 15-year-old Saleh Amarin, who was shot in the forehead by an Israeli soldier near his home in Aida refugee camp (near Bethlehem) on the afternoon of 18 January 2013.

One witness told Amnesty International that there was no stone throwing taking place at the time:

[The soldiers] went back in and went up the sniper towers. But when I was standing there near the [entrance of the camp] there was nothing much happening. Then I heard a single gunshot and I saw Saleh Amarin fall. Then I saw young men run towards him and try to carry him. He fell out of their hands the first time, then they got a grip of him and took him away.

The report notes that “even if he had intended to throw, or in fact succeeded in throwing, a stone, he would have posed no threat to the lives of Israeli soldiers who were inside a fortified military base with observation towers.”

This is only one of dozens of harrowing stories documented in the report.

“Non-fatal” weapons kill

Israel often defends its assaults on protests in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, by pointing to its use of so-called “non-fatal riot dispersal means” – beatings, tear gas, stun grenades, skunk water and rubber-coated steel bullets, among others.

These weapons, however, severely injure Palestinians and are often fatal.

Two Palestinians were killed by rubber-coated steel bullets last year. In December 2011, another was killed after being shot in the face with a tear gas canister at point-blank range.

On 1 March 2013, Mahmoud Awad, 26, was shot in the back of the head by a rubber-coated steel bullet near Israel’s Qalandiya military checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah. He died as a result of his injuries eight months later.

Citing statistics provided by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the report also observes that more than 8,500 Palestinians were injured by “weapons other than live ammunition between January 2011 and December 2013.”

From that total, over 1,500 were children.

In late September 2013, six-year-old Mousab Sarahnin lost his eye after an Israeli soldier shot him in the face with a rubber-coated steel bullet in Fuwwar refugee camp, as Dylan Collins and I reported for The Electronic Intifada at the time.

Targeting journalists and others

Amnesty International also documented several cases of Israeli forces directly targeting journalists, human rights defenders and medics.

Mohammad al-Azzah, 23, is a freelance journalist from Aida refugee camp. He was shot in the face with a rubber-coated steel bullet on 8 April 2013. Israeli forces confronted him as he took pictures of them clashing with Palestinian youth in the camp. After al-Azzah noticed that a commander was repeatedly pointing at him while speaking to other soldiers, he became worried:

I decided to stop photographing and go home. I closed the window, then came back to close the door, and one soldier shot directly at me. I saw the shot leave his gun … the bullet hit me in the right of the face and penetrated inside. I screamed, and my colleague, who was also working late, came running to me. He took me down the stairs and called an ambulance and then tried to call someone to get a car. When he opened the door to take me out, the soldiers shot at the door. He yelled at the soldiers that they had killed me, and then decided to take me through. We ran out of the building for 150 metres. Then a neighbour came and took me to al-Hussein hospital.

Al-Azzah hid for two months, staying with friends and relatives, because Israeli forces were searching for him. He was eventually arrested during a night raid on his home, and an Israeli military prosecution subsequently issued him charges related to incitement.

The report documents several more cases of Israeli forces injuring journalists and human rights defenders, most notably in places such as the village of Nabi Saleh, where soldiers fired tear gas canisters into homes of well-known activists on several occasions.

Elsewhere, medics have been shot with rubber-coated steel bullets and foam-tipped bullets on several occasions.

Impunity

Though Israel’s culture of impunity surrounding military and settler violence against Palestinians is nothing new, the report observes that

UN agencies, local and international human rights groups and others have documented a pattern of war crimes and other serious violations of international law – both international humanitarian law and international human rights law – committed by Israeli military and security forces since they occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967.

Amnesty International goes on to stress that Israeli soldiers and officers, if investigated at all, generally go unpunished for killing or injuring Palestinian civilians, even when they do so in violation of Israel’s own legal system. It points to Israel’s long history of “flawed investigations” when looking into violations.

The report concluded by calling on the international community to suspend all weapons transfers to Israel “until substantive steps have been taken by Israel” toward accountability for previous crimes and to prevent future violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

This should include “munitions, weapons, and related equipment including crowd control weapons and devices, training and techniques.” Amnesty International called on the United States, in particular, to pay heed to this call.

Yet given the US track record of supporting, financing and protecting Israel’s systematic violations of international law and Palestinian rights, it is likely this call will fall on deaf ears.

(Source / 28.02.2014)

Bilin protest marks 9 years of resistance

 

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Protesters in Bilin marked the ninth anniversary of the popular struggle against the wall with a march through the central West Bank village on Friday that was violently dispersed by Israeli forces.

Israeli forces opened fire on marchers as they approached the wall as it passes near the village, injuring four protesters with rubber-coated metal bullets and detaining one.

During the march, protesters climbed the separation wall and raised Palestinian flags atop it.

Protest organizers said in a statement that nine years after first beginning their weekly marches to protest Israeli land confiscation, they were determined to continue.

They added that they would continue their weekly marches and their struggle against the occupation until the “liberation of all lands confiscated from the village and the liberation of the occupied Palestinian lands.”

Marchers were joined by numerous political figures from major Palestinian political parties, as well as leaders and activists from the popular resistance movement from across the West Bank.

The protesters wounded during the march were identified as: Talha Abd al-Sattar, 22, hit by a rubber bullet in the thigh, Ahmad Abu Rahma, 20, hit by a rubber bullet in the back, Ashraf al-Khatib, 34, hit by a rubber bullet in the back, and Muhammad Nasser Burnat, 14, hit by a rubber bullet in the leg.

The detained individual was identified as Sameh Ataya.

Dozens of international and Israeli peace activists suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation during the march.

The march marked the ninth anniversary of the resistance movement in Bilin, which has been ongoing since February 2005.

Since then, weekly protests by residents have managed to force Israeli authorities to return 1200 dunams (300 acres) of their lands that had been confiscated by Israeli forces when they built the separation wall.

Since 2005, two local residents, Bassem Abu Rahma and Jawher Abu Rahma, have died as a result of injuries sustained by Israeli forces’ attacks on the marches.

Additionally, organizers say around 1000 have been injured, and 200 detained.

Israel began building the separation wall in 2002, and the route has been the target of regular demonstrations by border towns whose land is cut off by its path. Israel has regularly confiscated large plots of Palestinian land in order to build the wall.

When the 435-mile barrier is complete, 85 percent of it will have been built inside the occupied West Bank.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that the separation wall was illegal and “tantamount to annexation.”

(Source / 28.02.2014)

From Riyadh to Beirut, fear of Syria blowback

BISARIYEH, Lebanon The once-tranquil, religiously mixed village of Bisariyeh is seething: Two of its young men who fought alongside the rebels in Syria recently returned home radicalized and staged suicide bombings in Lebanon.

The phenomenon is being watched anxiously across the Mideast, particularly in Saudi Arabia, where authorities are moving decisively to prevent citizens from going off to fight in Syria.

The developments illustrate how the Syrian war is sending dangerous ripples across a highly combustible region and sparking fears that jihadis will come home with dangerous ideas and turn their weapons against their own countries.

In Lebanon, where longstanding tensions between Sunnis and Shiites have been heightened by the conflict next door, the fear of blowback has very much turned into reality.

The social fabric of towns and villages across the country is being torn by conflicting loyalties and a wave of bombings carried out by Sunni extremists in retaliation for the Iranian-backed Shiite group Hezbollah’s military support of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In the past few months, at least five Sunni men have disappeared from Bisariyeh, an impoverished, predominantly Shiite village in south Lebanon, and are believed to have gone to fight in Syria.

Two of them — Nidal Mughayar and Adan al-Mohammad — returned and blew themselves up outside Iranian targets in Beirut. The blasts, by Mughayar on Feb. 19 and al-Mohammad on Nov. 18, killed scores.

“He was a good man with a good heart, but it seems that people who have no conscience brainwashed him,” Hisham al-Mughayar said of his 20-year-old son.

As news spread in the village that Nidal was one of the bombers, angry Shiite residents marched to his parents’ home and set it on fire along with the family’s grocery and four vehicles.

“He destroyed himself and destroyed us with him,” said the father, as he took an Associated Press reporter on a tour of his torched, two-story house, much of its furniture reduced to ashes.

Concern about such radicalization has sent Mideast governments scrambling into action.

After years of often turning a blind eye to jihadists taking up arms abroad, Saudi Arabia is enacting new laws and backing a campaign to stop its citizens from joining Syria’s civil war. The intention is to send a clear message that those who defy the law are to fight to the death and are not welcome back.

The move, in part, reflects pressure from Saudi ally the U.S., which wants to see the overthrow of Assad but is alarmed by the rising influence of hard-line foreign jihadists — many of them linked to al-Qaida — among the rebels.

Many Saudis have been easy recruitment targets for jihadist organizations. Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi. The oil-rich kingdom was among several nations that backed the anti-communist mujahedeen forces fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and Saudi fighters have traveled to other Muslim hotspots around the world since then.

More recently, at the urging of Saudi preachers and even judges, thousands of fighters from Saudi Arabia — home to a strict, puritanical strain of Sunni Islam — have joined the 3-year-old uprising against Assad, whose government is dominated by members of his Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

Saudi officials said fewer than 3,000 Saudis are believed to be fighting in Syria, but analysts and other estimates put the figure as high as 15,000.

While Saudi Arabia continues to support opposition groups in Syria with weapons and other aid, King Abdullah issued a decree in the past month: Any citizen who fights abroad faces three to 20 years in prison. And anyone who incites people to join foreign wars can get five to 30 years.

“The Saudis are very much concerned about a repeat of the 2004 jihadist insurgency inside the kingdom, led at the time by Osama Bin Laden,” said analyst Bilal Saab, referring to a wave of militant attacks inside the country.

“It took time and a considerable amount of resources to counter the insurgency then. If it were to happen again in today’s regional environment where radicalization is on the increase, Saudi counterterrorism efforts will face even more formidable challenges,” added Saab, a senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.

History is rife with examples of militants returning home from wars with radical intentions.

Thousands of Muslims worldwide who went off to Afghanistan during the 10-year Soviet occupation returned home fired with the fervor of jihad and sought to overthrow their own, sometimes secular-leaning governments. Many established radical groups in Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, the Caucuses and elsewhere.

The shift to criminalize fighting abroad is gaining traction in the Middle East and North Africa. Egypt’s military leadership has taken a stricter stand, and Bahrain is drawing up legislation. Tunisia said it has prevented 8,000 from going to Syria and is putting together a database to monitor hundreds of fighters who have returned.

Tens of thousands of foreign fighters have flocked to Syria to take part in the war to topple Assad. Thousands of Shiites, including Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon, have rushed to Assad’s defense.

A perpetually troubled country with a weak central government, Lebanon has been a prime victim of the spillover violence.

In Bisariyeh, Hisham al-Mughayar has moved in with his parents. His daughters have stopped going to school, and his other son is no longer going to work for fear of more reprisals.

“Had I known where my son was, I would have gone and got him. We are innocent of all he did,” he said. “This is a catastrophe that struck us, although we have nothing to do with it.”

(Source / 28.02.2014)

Syrian Coalition: Assad Regime Not Interested in Meeting its Obligations or Preserving Lives of Syrians

Khalid Saleh, head of the Media Office, denounced the Assad regime’s closing of Babila crossing in rural Damascus, which was opened for one day only after the truce that was signed with the FSA in order to lift the siege and to deliver humanitarian and medical aid to the besieged civilians. “This proves that the Assad regime does not care about the life of the Syrian people and that it does not intend to meet its international obligations with regard to allowing the entry of humanitarian aid. The Assad regime pursues inhuman and immoral policies to keep its hold on power,” Saleh stresses. He also said that “laying siege to civilian population to subdue them constitutes direct breach of international humanitarian law. This also demonstrates the regime’s disregard of the international community and UN Security Council Resolution No.2139, which demands immediate lifting of the siege imposed on Syrian cities and giving unhindered access of relief and humanitarian convoys to the besieged areas.” organizations to ” Furthermore, Louay Safi, spokesman for the Syrian Coalition, warned of the regime’s attempts to sign a truce with opposition forces in some areas “to use it as an interim step in order to regroup his forces and deploy them to other areas within the country to ease up pressure on the capital. “The Assad regime still insists on using siege of civilians as a card to put pressure on the opposition forces, which proves that that these forces are an integral part of the civilian population. The Assad regime has been applying collective punishment on the Syrian people who rose up against tyranny and to build a free and democratic state,”
(Source: Syrian Coalition / 28.02.2014)

ARE REPORTS OF “175 OPPOSITION FIGHTERS” KILLED IN DAMASCUS SUBURB IN FACT ANOTHER ASSAD REGIME CIVILIAN MASSACRE?

By Peter Clifford                  ©               (http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-3)

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-3

Disturbing reports are emerging that the Assad regime ambush on Opposition fighters on the outskirts of Otsibs in the Eastern Ghouta region to the east of Damascus, was in fact largely a massacre of civilians.

The Syrian Government has claimed triumphantly that they ambushed and killed “175 members of the Al Nusra and Islamic Fronts”.

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news

Kafranbel Comments on Assad’s Savage Inhumanity

In fact, the ambush, which took place in the early hours of Wednesday morning, appears to be an IED explosive attack on civilians trying to escape the fighting in the area.

The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) has called on the UN to open an investigation into the attack.

According to their information a large group of civilians accompanied by a small number of Opposition fighters for protection were leaving the area because of the scarcity of food and medical supplies when Government forces detonated a string of mines planted by the roadside.

According to other information from activists in the area, the remaining survivors were then machine gunned by Iraqi and Hezbollah fighters backing Assad’s regular forces or later executed.

Some members of this massacre survived and were taken to an Opposition field hospital in Eastern Ghouta where they were able to report events. Their story is backed by video evidence.

The “killing of so many Opposition fighters” was given wide coverage on pro-Assad TV. However, activists are saying that the bodies of women, the elderly and children were removed by diggers before the remaining dead men were filmed.

Broadcast video however shows a stuffed teddy bear beside one of the dead men at 0.14 and 0.24, (Warning very graphic footage of dead bodies), HERE:

The attack took place between the villages of Al-A’teiba and Meed’a. Activists from East Ghouta say that the human convoy was one of 2 that left that night heading for Jordan and both were escorted by a company sized group of local fighters numbering several dozen men.

The SNC version of events, which described it as “the cowardly act of killing civilians who tried to escape the siege imposed by the Assad regime”, was backed up by the Islamic Front (IF), not normally a supporter of the political coalition.

IF said the escorting fighters were from their Islam Brigade and “175 fighters” would not move in single file along a road, particularly if enemy troops were known to be in the area.

This grainy video footage from Al Manar shows the mines exploding on the horizon and the devastated survivors trying to run away, here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Coc7oFjhlbw

Al Manar’s footage has been watched on YouTube more than 220,000 times in the last 24 hours, but even some pro-Assad supporters on social media have expressed suspicions about the military value of the ambush or objected to the way it has been heavily promoted by the regime and its allies as a “victory”.

Elsewhere in Damascus province the Syrian Government has kept up its barrel-bombing campaign regardless of whether civilians are present or not.

Barrel-bombs have been dropped on the besieged Opposition town of Yabroud in the Qalamoun region as the Syrian regime tries to exert complete control of the main Damascus to Homs highway.

This video shows the most recent destruction in Yabroud, HERE: while another 2 barrel-bombs fell on the Damascus suburb of Daraya this morning, making a total of 284 such devices dropped since the start of 2014.

At the city of Qudsaya in Damascus province, for the 7th day running, Syrian Army troops have imposed a total siege with military checkpoints preventing civilians from entering or leaving and also stopping the entry of food, flour or medical supplies, following the killing of one of Assad’s officers.

The Army says it will not break the siege until the person who assassinated him is given up.

Tunisian Prime Minister replaces Islamist governors ahead of election

Tunisia's Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa speaks during a news conference in Tunis January 26, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Anis Mili

Tunisia’s Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa speaks during a news conference in Tunis January 26, 2014

(Reuters) – Tunisia’s prime minister replaced most state governors on Friday, bowing to a demand from secular parties to purge Islamists From key jobs before elections this year.

After a political crisis brought on by the killing of two opposition leaders last year, the ruling Islamist party stepped down to allow a caretaker government to take over until elections later this year under a new constitution.

The secular opposition accused the Ennahda Islamist party of placing party officials in senior state jobs just before it quit power, and had asked that the appointments be reviewed.

“Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa decided to change 18 out of 24 governors to overhaul the administration,” Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou said on the outcome of that review.

Ennahda leaders said they did not object to any review of their appointments but insisted the individuals should be judged by their performance, not party membership.

Under the agreement reached between Islamists and secularists, elections will be held during 2014, supervised by an independent body elected by parliament.

A successful election will be seen as proof Tunisia is managing its transition to democracy better than North African neighbors Egypt and Libya, still reeling from the aftermath of the “Arab Spring” revolts of 2011.

(Source / 28.02.2014)

Israeli air strike hits northern Gaza

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces launched an air strike on the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday evening targeting a rocket launch site, according to a statement by Israeli forces.

The statement said that the air strikes targeted a rocket launching site in order “to eliminate an imminent threat against Israel.”

Israeli website Walla said that Israeli aircraft targeted a rocket launch pad in the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip as it was preparing to fire rockets towards Israel.

Earlier in the day, Israeli forces opened fire on protests near the Gaza Strip border, injuring one Palestinian.

While Hamas itself does not routinely fire rockets, Israel says it holds the group, which seized power in Gaza in 2007, responsible for such attacks.

Hamas and Israel have maintained a fragile ceasefire since Nov. 2012, when Israeli forces launched a major assault that killed around 170 Gazans.

(Source / 28.02.2014)

Turkish PM Erdoğan calls protesters atheists, leftists, terrorists

AA Photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğanhas said those who have taken to the streets in protest at corruption and graft allegations are “atheists and terrorists,” speaking at a rally in the western province of Balıkesir.

“We opened a boulevard in Ankaraon Monday [Feb. 24] despite the [protests of] leftists, despite those atheists. They are terrorists, but the [main opposition Republican People’s Party] CHP is calling them ‘our youth,’” said Erdoğan at the Feb. 28 rally.

Erdoğan described the probe as a plot against his government, orchestrated by the Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who has been residing in the United States for the past 15 years.

In the Balıkesir rally, Erdoğan also criticized Gülen for allegedly telling female students to remove their headscarves in order to be able to attend schools during the Feb. 28, 1997, post-modern coup attempt.

“He [Gülen] was saying you may not wear headscarves. Why do you [Gülen] get involved? Because he does not have any children,” he said, referring to the fact that Gülen is unmarried and has no children.

The prime minister had previously criticized the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli for not having any children or family.

Addressing the Balıkesir crowds, Erdoğan also once again called on people not to send their children to private prep schools, a considerable number of which are run by people close to the Gülen movement.

(Source / 28.02.2014)