Syrian Coalition Calls on ICRC to Enter Remaining of Besieged Areas

Spokesman for the Syrian Coalition Salem al-Meslet commends the relief operations carried out by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in the district of Mouadamiya in Rural Damascus, which has been subjected to crippling siege by regime forces since 2012.

He stresses the Assad regime has been using siege and starvation as a weapon of war and as a collective punishment against rebellious cities and towns.

He calls on the ICRC to enter the rest of the besieged areas across Syria, most importantly Eastern Ghouta, Al Waer district in Homs and Deir Ezzor to provide aid to the population, particularly now in the holy month of Ramadan.

The ICRC on Thursday described living conditions in Mouadamiya as dire after delivering aid there this week for the first time in six months.

The ICRC entered the town along with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and delivered medicines for chronic diseases to treat around 5,000 patients.

It also brought in medicines for children and medical equipment to help pregnant women during delivery. But it said around 40,000 people inside were still in urgent need of basic services including water and electricity.

“The humanitarian situation is desperate,” Marianne Gasser, head of the ICRC in Syria, said in a statement. She said the streets were empty and shops shuttered in a town that has had no electricity for two years.

“There is virtually no water and food is hard to come by…There is virtually no access to proper health care.”

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 19.06.2015)

Netanyahu shuts down Palestine 48 TV

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.  [File photo]

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu issued an order yesterday to shut down Palestine 48 television station just hours after a news conference was held in Nazareth to announce its launch. The station is affiliated with the official Palestinian television station Palestine, which focuses on Arabs living inside Palestine.

Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported that the Israeli prime minister, who is also the communications minister and the foreign minister, issued an order preventing the broadcast of the Palestinian channel through legal means. The launch of the channel was attended by Palestinian Communications Minister Riad Hassan.

Palestine 48 TV is the first satellite channel supervised by the Palestinian Authority which focuses on the affairs of Palestinians living in Israel. It was scheduled to go live on Thursday.

The total population in Israel is 8.345 million, of which 6.251 million – 74 per cent – are Jews. Palestinian Arabs make up 20.7 per cent, totalling 1.730 million. The population of non-Arab Christian Israelis is 364,000 according to this year’s official statistics.

(Source / 19.06.2015)

Third time’s the charm? Israel’s Gaza blockade to be tested by new Freedom Flotilla

Photo by Nadezhda Kevorkova

A group of pro-Palestinian activists has organized a new flotilla to make another attempt at breaking Israel’s Gaza Strip blockade, initiated in 2007. The flotilla, which consists of at least three ships, has sailed out from three Mediterranean Sea ports.

The launch date and list of participants had been kept secret, although it was known that among the activists are a former Tunisian president, as well as athletes, academicians, parliamentarians of different levels, diplomats and journalists, and a Catholic nun.

Photo by Nadezhda Kevorkova

Dror Feiler, 63, is a well-known musician and installation artist from Sweden. He has participated in all of the attempts to break through the Gaza blockade. He was born in Israel, served in the Israeli army’s support force, and immigrated to Sweden 40 years ago. His parents are well-known anti-occupation activists in Israel. His mother still lives in Israel, but he has been denied entrance to the country. He can’t enter Israel for any reason, not as part of the flotilla nor to see his mother. He can’t even get to the court to pick up the verdict explaining why he has been banned from the country.

“They’ve kept my saxophone for five years now – it was confiscated during the arrests of the First Flotilla, and they aren’t giving it back,” says the musician.

It is possible we won’t reach Gaza, but we will reach many hearts that will beat together with Gaza,” says Dror.

“We must go because our politicians fail to do their job – they fail to put enough pressure on Israel to lift off the blockade on land and sea,” he says.

In 2004, Feiler created an art installation in support of the Palestinians: he sailed a little white ship in a tank of water tinted with red paint, with a portrait of a Palestinian woman who blew herself up in an attack on a checkpoint. The Israeli Ambassador to Sweden, who visited the exhibition, reacted by drowning the lights of the piece in the tank.

In a 2011 effort to reach Gaza, Dror was on the only boat of the flotilla’s 11 that actually attempted to break the blockade, as unknown persons had succeeded in sabotaging the other 10 boats right before launch.

Ana Miranda, 44, is a Galician politician and Vice President of the European Free Alliance (EFA) European political party in the European Parliament that champions self-determination for repressed peoples. She was a MEP from 2012 to 2013. Now, she is participating in the flotilla and has brought a group of journalists with her.

“Galicians have the fight for freedom in their blood. I am a deputy, but we live like ordinary people – we ride on a bus, go about daily chores like all people and know all the hardships of the common people’s life. This Flotilla is the symbol of resistance for the entire world. The Flotilla for the freedom of Gaza is the banner of all who resist,” she said.

Norwegian Professor of Sociology Gerd von Der Lipper has long been studying the problem of sports in Gaza or, to be more precise, the problem of the absence of sports infrastructure or the ability to participate in sports in Gaza.

“Forward, people of the entire world – that’s the message of the Flotilla of Freedom,” she said.

The announcement of the new flotilla at a press conference in Messina, Sicily (Photo by Nadezhda Kevorkova)

The announcement of the new flotilla at a press conference in Messina, Sicily

One of the Flotilla’s crews held a meeting right under a huge Last Supper painting in the mayor’s office in the city of Messina, Sicily. Despite their different religious beliefs, all the participants kept looking up at it, as the implication of this painting for them was all too clear: Israel is doing all it can to stop the flotilla before it even sails out.

“We must be ready that there might be a Judas among us,” said one of the crew. All the participants in the flotilla have been warned against reacting to any provocations, because if they are captured by Israeli soldiers, any aggression could lead to them being severely beaten. “Jesus knew that Judas was close, but it didn’t stop him. We will also pursue our peaceful resistance.”

Before the flotilla sets off, all crews are trained on how to properly resist violence in a peaceful way. Everyone, including the journalists, is taught how to behave if Israeli soldiers take over their boat. In this event, it is possible that they will be held without food or water in the sun for many hours, and have their phones, money, bank cards and personal belongings confiscated, including recording equipment and cameras.

(Source / 19.06.2015)

Palestinian life in West Bank constrained by Israeli policies – UN expert

The West Bank barrier, along with checkpoints, roadblocks and permit system, has created a closure regime that has had a dire effect on all aspects of life for Palestine refugees

19 June 2015 – The international community must ensure the promise of universal human rights no longer rings hollow to Palestinian “living under the 48-year-long Israeli occupation,” today said a UN independent expert.

The crisis in war-torn Gaza is deepening. In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, there are daily infringements of Palestinian rights as land is increasingly lost to illegal settlements,” warned the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.

Reporting at the Human Rights Council, Makarim Wibisono said “that occupation policies constrain Palestinian life and push Palestinians to leave their land and homes, especially in area C of the West Bank, and East Jerusalem,” said the expert after his second mission to the region.

From 9 to 12 June, Mr. Wibisono visited Amman, Jordan, where he met with civil society and Palestinian local community representatives, UN agencies, and Palestinian government officials. He was unable to access the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), as the Israeli Government has not granted him access and has not formally responded to his requests.

“Accountability is critical for dealing with past violations as well as preventing future ones,” he explained. “This includes accountability for violations in the context of successive Israeli military operations, including the 2014 hostilities in Gaza. It is the only way to move forward.”

Nine months after the ceasefire, some 12,600 Gaza homes totally destroyed during the 2014 hostilities with Israel, “not a single one has been rebuilt”, stated the UN independent expert, claiming that multiple factors affect the slow reconstruction in Gaza, including unfulfilled donor pledges.

Mr. Wibisono noted that the blockade around the strip, now in its eighth year, imposes severe restrictions on Palestinian movement, imports and exports and has left Gaza dependent on international aid and with soaring unemployment.

“The bottom line remains that, if Gaza is to recover from the damage wrought by multiple rounds of hostility and a shattered economy, the blockade must be lifted. The people deserve help and realisation of their human rights, not collective punishment,” he advocated.

The Special Rapporteur was also briefed on the lack of access to health care in Gaza, where more than 11,000 Palestinians were left injured after last summer’s escalation of hostilities. “Health services too are affected by the blockade. There are prolonged and chronic shortages of drugs and medical supplies,” he said.

In addition, the expert was briefed on how the extensive damage caused to civilian infrastructure has worsened the provision of essential utility services. “One man described how ‘Gazans wake up every day to wash with salt-water and sleep at the end of the day without electricity’ – People are deprived of the means to help themselves and they cannot leave – this is a very dangerous situation,” he warned.

In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the independent expert noted the “interplay” between Israeli control of natural resources, such as land and water, and advancement of Israeli settlements.

“The impact of untreated sewage and waste from settlements on Palestinian crops and the environment is also concerning,” Mr. Wibisono added, stressing the situation of families that live under the threat of settler violence, home demolitions and forcible transfer.

“Occupation policies and practices go beyond control of land – they impact every aspect of life and wear heavily on the social fabric of communities,” he said.

Concerned by movement restrictions between Gaza and the West Bank, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and within the West Bank, including by the separation wall, the Special Rapporteur highlighted that Palestinians family and social life is “dictated” by the granting or refusal by the Israeli authorities of the right permit.

Finally, he expressed concern over Palestinian deaths and injuries resulting from excessive use of force by Israeli security forces, as well as detention.

(Source / 19.06.2015)

More than 2,000 Russians joined ISIS

Jihadi John Mohammed Emwazi

Foreign fighters not only swell up the ranks of ISIS but are a critical part of it’s media operations. Pictured above is the British-citizen Mohammed Emwazi, aka ‘Jihadi John’

The chief of Anti-Terrorism Centre of Commonwealth of Independent States (ATC-CIS), Andrey Novikov, said yesterday that approximately 2,000 Russians have joined the Islamic State (ISIS).

In an interview with Interfax news agency, Novikov said that according to the intelligence services, there are about 2,000 Russian citizens fighting amongst ISIS militants; however experts put the number at nearly 5,000.

Experts warn that the return of these fighters will increase the seriousness of the situation in the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which includes most of the former Soviet republics, at a time when several central Asian countries are facing the increasing danger of fundamentalism.

In the beginning of June, the director of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Alexander Bortnikov, estimated that the number of Russian citizens fighting in Iraq was about 1,700. He expressed concern about ISIS’s growing influence in Russia and called for increased cooperation with Washington and the West in this regard.

In recent weeks a number of young Russians have left their country and headed for Syria. The Moscow State University also reported the loss of a female student who left for Turkey where it is believed she will try to enter Syria.

A spokeswoman for the university told the international Russian news agency RIA Novostithat Maryem Asamailov was studying business management and marketing, noting that she boarded the plane to Turkey to join another female student from the university.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Vladimir Putin, expressed concern at the wave of departures of Russian students, saying that this is a “dangerous phenomenon”.

In early June, the Turkish authorities arrested 14 Russians, including a 19-year-old student, and four Azerbaijanis in Kilis as they were trying to enter Syria.

In light of the increased interest, in late May, ISIS launched a Russian version of its propaganda magazine Istok.

(Source / 19.06.2015)

‘Erratic and secretive dictatorship’: WikiLeaks releases thousands of ‘top secret’ Saudi govt docs

Reuters / Tim Chong

WikiLeaks has begun publishing around half a million ‘Saudi Cables’ documents, which include communiques from the Saudi Foreign Ministry, as well as ‘top secret’ reports from the kingdom’s intelligence agency and Ministry of Interior.

On Friday, the whistleblowing website released the first tranche of around 70,000 documents.

According to the group’s statement, the ‘Saudi cables’ provide an insight into the kingdom’s interior and foreign policies explaining “how it has managed its alliances and consolidated its position as a regional Middle East superpower, including through bribing and co-opting key individuals and institutions.”

The leaked documents also illustrate a “highly centralized bureaucratic structure” where even the simplest issues are addressed by the most senior officials, it said.


Commenting on the release, Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder said the documents “lift the lid on an increasingly erratic and secretive dictatorship that has not only celebrated its 100th beheading this year, but which has also become a menace to its neighbors and itself.”

The documents have been published as scanned images of Arabic text which have been made searchable through the WikiLeaks search engine.

The ultraconservative kingdom has also been widely criticized by the international community for its disreputable human rights record. On Monday Saudi Arabia performed its 100th public execution of the year. The figure surpasses the 87 recorded by AFP in 2014, however is below the highest figure of 192, recorded by the human rights group Amnesty International in 1995.



Saudi Arabia, the world’s second largest oil producer and largest exporter, is a major player in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that controls oil production and prices on the global market.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a hereditary dictatorship bordering the Persian Gulf. Despite the Kingdom’s infamous human rights record, Saudi Arabia remains a top-tier ally of the United States and the United Kingdom in the Middle East, largely owing to its globally unrivalled oil reserves,” Wikileaks said.

The Kingdom frequently tops the list of oil-producing countries, which has given the Kingdom disproportionate influence in international affairs. Each year it pushes billions of petro-dollars into the pockets of UK banks and US arms companies.”

The US has supported the Saudi-led airstrikes against Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen, providing intelligence sharing, targeting assistance, advisory and logistical support to the military intervention.

The WikiLeaks publication comes after a group calling itself the Yemeni Cyber Army allegedly hacked over 3,000 computers and servers belonging to Saudi Foreign, Interior and Defense Ministries in May. The hackers released only a small “sample” portion of the documents on file-sharing sites which soon fell under censorship.

The hacker group came to be known for the first time after it attacked the pro-Saudi news website, AlHayat in April protesting against what it called the Saudi “invasion” of Yemen. Since March, the Sunni-ruled Kingdom has led airstrikes against the Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen, after they took control of its capital, Sanaa, ousting Sunni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who then fled to Saudi Arabia. According to UN estimates, more than 2,600 people have been killed since the coalition began military operations in March.

WikiLeaks says its full trove contains thousands of times the number of documents released by the Yemeni Cyber Army.

(Source / 19.06.2015)

Pan-Islamic movement becomes political player in Palestine

Palestinian supporters of Hizb ut-Tahrir take part in a protest against satirical French weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which featured a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad on the cover of its first edition since an attack by Islamist gunmen, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Jan. 24, 2015

Palestinian worshipers who support Hizb ut-Tahrir protested the visit on May 22 of Chief Justice of Jordan and cleric Ahmed Halil’s visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque, after Halil’s bodyguards beat an elderly man who opposed the visit. This angered the worshipers and fueled the protests inside the mosque.

Palestinian worshipers in Al-Aqsa Mosque tried to stop Halil from delivering the Friday sermon by chanting slogans against him as soon as he approached the pulpit. Hilal was then forced to back away, and another preacher replaced him.

On May 23, Fatah spokesman Ahmad Alyan accused Hamas of inciting Hizb ut-Tahrir to attack the Jordanian guest.

Maher al-Jabari, a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir’s media office, denied that activists were responsible for obstructing Halil’s visit and sermon. He considered what happened as an expression of the popular opposition to the normalization of visits to Jerusalem under the protection of the Israeli occupation.

Hizb ut-Tahrir was founded in the Palestinian territories in 1953 by Judge Taqiuddin al-Nabhani. However, the party’s support for and analysis of the Palestinian cause were not based on national concerns, but were linked to other issues in the Islamic world, such as the European occupation of Arab countries following World War I and the Muslims’ suffering in Asian countries, such as China and India, following the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1924. The party views the Ottoman Empire as the last caliphate state, which is the core problem of Muslims around the world.

In regard to the conflict with Israel, Hizb ut-Tahrir has limited its action to the analysis of the political situation and raising awareness among Palestinians, without taking part in armed operations against the Israeli occupation. This has prevented it from being subject to any prosecution by Israel.

Israel has no specific stance on Hizb ut-Tahrir. However, the fact that none of the party’s members have been arrested or tracked down by the Israeli army is implicit evidence that Israel is not bothered by the party’s ideology, as long as it does not lead to a military armed action against it.

Nevertheless, Hizb ut-Tahrir still does not recognize the legitimacy of Israel and continues to be against any negotiations with it. It also refuses to refer to international bodies, such as the United Nations and the Security Council, which are considered a contradiction to the Sharia principles.

Hizb ut-Tahrir has intensified its public activities in the Palestinian territories in recent years, be they public seminars, hanging banners or publishing statements. They mostly focus on the suffering of Muslims around the world and the need to restore the Islamic caliphate, as a key introduction to resolve the Palestinian cause.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has taken clear hostile stances against most of Hizb ut-Tahrir’s activities. Most recently, on May 23, security services set up checkpoints at the entrances and exits of cities in the West Bank, to prevent the Caliphate Conference from being held in Ramallah.

On May 30, the PA’s security services arrested 10 members of Hizb ut-Tahrir in the West Bank and used violence when dealing with them. Hizb ut-Tahrir said that the PA actions toward it are repressive and represent acts of thuggery.

Adnan al-Damiri, the PA security services spokesman, said on May 24 that the PA met Hizb ut-Tahrir’s requests to hold activities on several occasions. But he added that what Hizb ut-Tahrir has done in Al-Aqsa Mosque on May 22 is shameful and indicates that it is a violent camp, and that their actions would harm the Palestinian-Jordanian ties.

Speaking to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, a Palestinian security official said, “Hizb ut-Tahrir is part of political Islam in the region, and its ideology is based on the idea of a global ummah [Islamic nation] more than on Palestinian nationalist principles. This is why it uses the Palestinian internal arena to express its positions on issues unrelated to the Palestinians, which sometimes harm ties with friendly states.”

He added, “While it’s true that unlike Hamas, Hizb ut-Tahrir does not have a military structure that poses a threat to the PA, its ideological principles are more extreme than those of Hamas. While the PA — at some point — could reach certain political understandings with Hamas, such understandings are unlikely, if not impossible, with Hizb ut-Tahrir.”

The PA’s position on Hizb ut-Tahrir seemed more in line with those of Arab countries that ban it, such as Jordan, Syria, Egypt and others.

There is also a contradiction in principles between Hizb ut-Tahrir and the PA. Hizb ut-Tahrir considers the latter void, because it was created by the Oslo Accord, and has called for boycotting the municipal, legislative and presidential elections. Furthermore, the educational curricula ratified by the PA was met with severe condemnation from Hizb ut-Tahrir. The latter waged a massive campaign against the curricula, and launched classes at mosques and sent delegations to schools to illustrate to the Palestinian public how the PA curricula contradicts Sharia.

In the Gaza Strip, where Hamas is in control, Hizb ut-Tahrir seems more at ease than in the West Bank and carries out its activities with greater freedom. Its most recent event was a public seminar held in Gaza City on May 4. It then organized a march in central Gaza City on May 17 to mark the 94th anniversary of the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

Hassan al-Madhoun, the spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir in the Gaza Strip, told Al-Monitor, “The fall of the Ottoman Empire is the reason behind the loss faced by Palestine and the other Arab countries. The establishment of a new caliphate state alone will fill the political vacuum faced by the Islamic nation and liberate Palestine.”

Madhoun added, “Muslim armies are called to direct their weapons against Israel rather than against [other] Muslims in Arab countries. Hizb ut-Tahrir rejects all calls to negotiate with the Jews.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir’s position on Hamas is influenced by the ideological dispute between the two. While Hamas calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state, Hizb ut-Tahrir maintains its call for founding a caliphate state on Islamic lands. In addition, Hamas calls for using armed action to achieve its nationalist goals, while Hizb ut-Tahrir focuses on peaceful methods to establish a caliphate state. With regard to the political division on the Palestinian scene, Hizb ut-Tahrir has warned Hamas against a rapprochement with Fatah, fearing that it would slide into the square of the peace process.

Although the number of its members in Palestinian territories is unknown, Hizb ut-Tahrir is considered a pivotal element of the axis of Islamic movements, along with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Salafists.

While Hizb ut-Tahrir continues to complain that it is being targeted by the PA, it is more likely to come to an understanding with Hamas. Hamas and Hizb ut-Tahrir agreed to search for common ground and turn a blind eye to the ideological differences that could set them apart. This is because both Hamas and Hizb ut-Tahrir do not wish to clash and want to keep the Gaza Strip an open arena where all Palestinian movements can coexist.

(Source / 19.06.2015)

Nachtelijke rust!

[Ramadanbericht nr 7]

Eén van de sterk aanbevolen daden in deze gezegende maand is het verrichten van de Taraweeh (nachtgebed) gezamenlijk in de moskee. De profeet vrede zij met hem zei:
“Wie het nachtgebed in Ramadan verricht met geloof en hoop op de beloning, van diegene worden zijn voorgaande zonden vergeven.” [Bukhari]
Ook is het aanbevolen om het gebed volledig te bidden, totdat de imam klaar is. De profeet vrede zij met hem zei:
“Wie met de imam staat (in gebed) totdat hij klaar is, krijgt de beloning van het bidden van de hele nacht.” [Tirmidhi]
Ontneem jezelf deze grote beloning niet door vroegtijdig de moskee te verlaten. Kijk niet naar de mensen die vroegtijdig weggaan, maar naar die blijven. 
Gedenk dat onze nobele profeet vrede zij met hem stond in het nachtgebed totdat zijn voeten opzwollen! Aicha – moge Allah tevreden met haar zijn-, vrouw van de profeet, verbaasde zich hierover en zei: “Allah heeft jouw voorgaande en komende zonden vergeven, waarom doe jij dit?” Hij antwoordde: “Mag ik geen dankbare dienaar zijn?!”

Dankbaarheid aan Allah uit zich in daden en niet slechts in het zeggen van ‘alhamdolilah’.

Het luisteren naar de recitatie van het boek van Allah, gezamenlijk in de moskee met jouw medemoslims, is rust en ontspanning. Wie heeft daar vandaag de dag geen behoefte aan? 
Één van onze vrome voorgangers moest huilen toen hij op zijn sterfbed lag. Vervolgens zeiden de mensen om hem heen: “Wat doet jou huilen?” Hij antwoordde: “Ik huil niet uit angst voor de dood en ook niet omdat ik in deze wereld wil blijven, maar ik huil omdat ik de dorst van de hete dagen (tijdens het vasten) en het nachtgebed zal missen.”
Zo beste broeders en zusters, houden de vrome mensen van het aanbidden van Allah. Zij ervaren het niet als een last, maar als verlichting.

Misschien dat het een idee is om vóór het bijwonen van de Taraweeh, het gedeelte van de Koran dat zal worden gereciteerd in de avond, door te nemen middels bijvoorbeeld de Nederlandse vertaling van de Koran. Dit kan je doen door naar een opgenomen recitatie te luisteren van het deel van de Koran dat aan bod zal komen in de Taraweeh, en vervolgens lees je tegelijkertijd de vertaling. Door deze voorbereiding te treffen, kan je de imam redelijk volgen tijdens het gebed en raak je minder snel afgeleid. Tevens is dit heel goed voor het versterken van jouw Arabische taal.
Beste broeders en zusters:
Wellicht dat we overdag druk zijn met allerlei aangelegenheden, zoals het voorzien in ons levensonderhoud. Daar is niks mis mee. Allah zegt:
“En wij hebben de dag gemaakt om levensonderhoud te zoeken.” [78:11]
Maar wat voor excuus hebben wij dan om de nachten van deze gezegende maand niet goed te benutten met o.a. het reciteren van de Koran en het bijwonen van het Taraweeh gebed? Allah zegt:
“Wanneer jij dan klaar bent (met jouw wereldse zaken), streef dan (met de zaken van het Hiernamaals)”. [94:7]
Moge Allah de meest Verhevene ons helpen bij het nuttig besteden van deze gezegende dagen en nachten en ons vergeven voor onze tekortkomingen.

Student aan de Universiteit van Medina, Saudi Arabië.

2 Ramadan 1436 / 19 juni 2015

160 Muslim scholars call on Saudi king to save Morsi

Saudi Arabia's King, Salman Bin Abdulaziz

Saudi Arabia’s King, Salman Bin Abdulaziz

As many as 160 Muslim scholars have signed a statement calling on Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Bin Abdulaziz to intervene and lift the death sentence issued against the country’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi.

The signatories described the death sentence against Morsi and his supporters as “unjust, issued through politicised trials”.

The statement said what happens in Egypt “is not an internal affair for Egypt alone, but it is an affair that would affect the Arab and Islamic nations as a whole.”

The statement said the sentences against Morsi were politically motivated and had no relation to the law as they include misleading information.

(Source / 19.06.2015)

Thousands of Palestinians allowed to pray at Al-Aqsa

Israel allows women of all ages and men aged 40 and over from West Bank into Jerusalem without permits.

Israel has allowed tens of thousands of Palestinians from the Occupied Territories into Jerusalem to perform Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa mosque.

Police said at least 80,000 people from East Jerusalem, Israel and the West Bank had gone to Islam’s third-holiest site, for Friday prayers, the first since this week’s start of Ramadan.

There were also 500 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who were allowed rare permission to pray at the site, an Israeli official said.

They made their way through the Old City’s narrow alleyways and plazas, decorated in areas with lights and lanterns. Sellers hawked prayer mats to passing pilgrims.

Timeline: Al-Aqsa mosque

Women of all ages and men aged 40 and over from the Israeli-occupied West Bank were allowed into Jerusalem without permits, normally required to cross checkpoints and exit the territory.

Israel’s easing of movement restrictions during Ramadan comes at a time of heightened tensions with Palestinians and the absence of peace talks.

“While happy to be able to travel to Jerusalem, most Palestinians don’t believe their right to worship should be restricted in the first place,” Al Jazeera’s Nisreen el-Shamaylen, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, said.

The freedom of movement of Palestinians is a right guaranteed by international law, but a right continuously limited by Israel, and many Palestinians are skeptical of Israel’s decision.

“Israel is very interested in changing the status quo of the occupation, the most profitable occupation in human history,” Mazen Qumsieh, professor at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah told Al Jazeera.

“Billions of dollars from us are spent on Israeli products because we are captive audience etc. One of the ways that Israel likes to maintain this system is by occasionally letting the pressure cooker kind of release her tension.”

Ramadan prayers

According to police, 48,000 Palestinians from the West Bank were among Friday’s visitors compared to a few thousand on an average Friday.

Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Islamic Waqf which runs Al-Aqsa, told AFP news agency he estimated 200,000 worshippers were in and around the compound.

 Tensions at Al-Aqsa

Police and border guards were deployed in force with riot gear and assault rifles. Roads were cordoned off around the Old City and barricades were set up near the entrances to the mosque.

White-robed men walked while twirling prayer beads, and veiled local women begged to pilgrims for alms.

Men and boys who had decorated their stores with gaudy flashing lights and blared Koranic recitations out of CD players sold sweets to pilgrims for the breaking of their fast after sundown.

“I am so happy that I am finally going back to Al-Aqsa after a long period,” Tayseir Menniyah, 60, told Al Jazeera.

“The Israeli easing of restrictions is good but we need more easing for all Gazans not only for the elderly. We want to be able to visit Al-Aqsa every day not only every Friday.”

This year was expected to mark the first time since the second Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s that Israeli authorities permitted West Bank residents to take direct buses from Palestinian cities to the Al-Aqsa esplanade.

But the direct buses were not in place this Friday, with Major General Yoav Mordechai, head of the defence ministry unit which manages civilian affairs in the West Bank, saying it was “due to the lack of preparation of the Palestinian Authority.”

There was no immediate reaction from the Palestinian Authority.

Men under 40 from the West Bank still needed permits to enter, and Palestinian officials say more must be done to allow access for all those who wished to pray to do so at Al-Aqsa, which Jews call the Temple Mount and consider the holiest site in their religion.

(Source / 19.06.2015)