Hundreds wounded in Yemen protests

Saleh has rejected calls to step down, saying those who are against him should challenge him in 2013 elections [EPA]

Hundreds of people have been injured in the Yemeni city of Taiz after police used tear gas to disperse pro-democracy protesters in the city’s main square.

Medical officials said more than 600 people were wounded on Sunday in the square where a sit-in had been taking place as part of nationwide anti-government protests.

According to witnesses, police also opened fire above the heads of protesters, and used batons to disperse the crowds.

Medical sources said most of the injuries were from tear gas inhalation. However, there were also reports that some protesters may have been injured by live ammunition.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Sanaa, who is not being named for security reasons, said the main hospital recorded about 650 injured people, with a doctor saying the number is likely to rise.

“The situation is still tense … protesters are still out in force and moving from the main square towards the Taiz governor’s house demanding the resignation of the president.”

‘Peaceful transition’

The protest came a day after an opposition coalition called on Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh to hand over power to his deputy, Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The coalition has released details of their initiative for a peaceful transition of power, according to Al Jazeera’s sources.

As part of his interim duties, they called on Saleh’s deputy to reorganise the central and national security as well as the Republican Guard, the forces currently loyal to Saleh and controlled by his son and nephews.

Hadi was appointed by Saleh as Yemen’s vice-president after the civil war in 1994.

He is well regarded by the opposition, and the negotiations between the president’s advisers and the opposition took place at his house in Sanaa.

By accepting someone from the ruling party to lead in the interim, the opposition appeared to send a message that it is willing to be flexible about finding a solution.

The move is also likely to help the coalition win support of residents of southern Yemen, where Hadi hails from.

The suggestion to appoint him as the country’s leader has come as no surprise, but so far, the president has rejected every offer that requires him to leave office before the end of the year.

There has been no reaction from the president or the ruling party so far.

(english.aljazeera.net / 03.04.2011)

The Ideal Muslim

The ideal Muslim is a man of the highest moral character. In his relation with his rabb’ (lord), himself, family, parents, relatives, friends, and the community at large, he has a most excellent example in the Prophet of Islam (pbuh).

His idealism is further strengthened by the characters of the first generations of Mu…slims who excelled in all the various fields of human endeavour.
He is reassured by the teachings of Islam that he also can reach these noble heights by working to improve his character daily.

Moving from the innermost aspect of the individual’s spiritual life to his dealings with all those around him, one can see how the Muslim is expected to interact with all others in his life.

He is truthful
He does not cheat, deceive or stab in the back
He is not envious
He is sincere
He keeps his promises
He has a good attitude towards others and treats them well
He is characterized by shyness
He is gentle towards people
He is compassionate and merciful
He is tolerant and forgiving
He is easy-going in his business dealings
He is of cheerful countenance
He has a sense of humour
He is patient
He avoids cursing and foul language
He does not falsely accuse anyone of fisq or kufr
He is modest and discreet
He dos not interfere in that which does not concern him
He refrains from backbiting and slander
He avoids giving false statements
He avoids suspicion
He keeps secrets
He does not converse privately with another person when there is a third person present
He is not arrogant or proud
He is humble and modest
He does not make fun of anyone
He respects elders and distinguished people
He mixes with people of noble character
He strives for people’s benefits and seeks to protect hem from harm
He strives to reconcile between Muslims
He calls people to truth
He enjoins what is good and forbids what is evil
He is wise and eloquent in his da`wah
He is not a hypocrite
He does not show off or boast
He is straightforward and consistent in his adherence to the truth
He visits the sick
He attends funerals
He repays favours and is grateful for them
He mixes with people and puts up with their insults
He tries to make people happy
He guides others to righteous deeds
He is easy on people, not hard
He is fair in his judgement of people
He does not oppress or mistreat others
He loves noble things and always aims high
His speech is not exaggerated or affected
He does not rejoice in the misfortunes of others
He is generous
He does not remind the beneficiaries of his charity
He is hospitable
He prefers others to himself
He helps to alleviate the burden of the debtor
He is proud and does not beg
He is friendly and likeable
He checks his customs and habits against Islamic standards
He follows Islamic manners in the way he eats and drinks
He spreads the greeting of salam
He does not enter a house other than his own without permission
He sits wherever he finds room in a gathering
He avoids yawning in a gathering as much as he can
He follows the Islamic etiquette when he sneezes
He does not look into other people’s houses
He does not imitate women.

Allah says:
“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women because of what Allah has preferred one with over the other and because of what they spend to support them from their wealth.” [Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 34]

(Facebook / 03.04.2011)

Sources: Mubarak has left Egypt

Sources tell Al Jazeera that former president has departed for Germany, but military council denies the report.

Sources tell Al Jazeera that Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian president, has left the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh on a flight headed to Germany, possibly for medical treatment.

Mubarak had been staying in Sharm El-Sheikh under house arrest since he stepped down from office on February 11.

Despite the reports, Zeina Khodr, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, said people in Egypt are not convinced that the news is true.

They are holding the military to the promise of keeping Mubarak in the country to stand trial for alleged crimes under his presidency, she said.

“The army has repeatedly said Mubarak would not be able to leave Egypt, even for medical treatment.”

Military denial

She added that if true, news of Mubarak’s departure would “definitely cause a lot of anger on the streets of Egypt”.

Shortly after the report, a source from the military council denied the story to the Reuters news agency.

Media reports earlier this month indicated that Mubarak was receiving medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.

But Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said the former leader and his family would not be allowed to leave the country and denied reports that Mubarak had fled to Saudi Arabia.

And in February, German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that Mubarak’s trip to Germany would be part of a long-term plan hatched by the US as an exit strategy for Mubarak.

The United States government’s scenario for an end to the political chaos in Egypt appears to be this: President Hosni Mubarak travels to Germany for a “prolonged health check” that would offer the 82-year-old a dignified departure.

Mubarak was ousted by a populist revolution after 30 years of rule. The military council took power after he stepped down, following 18 days of massive street protests.

Egypt is due to hold parliamentary elections in September, although no exact date has yet been given for a presidential vote.

The country’s emergency laws, in place since 1981, are to be lifted ahead of the parliamentary vote, the military council has said.

The laws give police near-unlimited powers of arrest and allowed indefinite detentions without charges.

(english.aljazeera.net / 03.04.2011)

Tripoli’s Bishop: ‘Nato Bombs Not The Answer’

The Pope’s senior representative in Libya has issued a stark warning to Western governments that without negotiation the war in the country will reach a bloody stalemate.

Bishop Giovanni Martinelli told Sky News that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi will not leave the country and will not stop the fighting while his army is being bombed.

“He will not leave,” said the bishop, who was born in Libya and knows the Colonel and how he thinks.

“Maybe he will leave the power but with certain conditions; with dignity and desire to be with his people. He will stay, I think so. He doesn’t want to leave the country. It is possible to find a solution but not with force.”

The bishop has been critical of the bombing campaign because he says it is inaccurate and with the Libyan military still largely intact Col Gaddafi will become more intransigent.

“This is a crisis of generations and the rebellion is understandable. But violence is not the way forward,” he added.

“I understand the feelings of the people in the east but they cannot win. They are not enough and not strong enough to defeat this army.”

In a rare interview in his St Francis church in the centre of Tripoli he said he was appalled at what was happening in the cities if Misratah and Zawiya and acknowledged that Sky News’s reporting from Zawiya, in particular, was accurate.

“Now in Misratah they have no water, no electricity and no food. The situation is very dangerous,” he said.

Analysts believe the bishop is now a key player in diplomatic negotiations with the Gaddafi government.

The Vatican has distanced itself from the Nato-led military strategy and is supporting Italian efforts to negotiate a deal, including potential safe passage for Gaddafi.

“The psychological position of the leader is as a Libyan and a Bedouin and war is not a way to convince him to leave,” warned Bishop Martinelli.

(news.sky.com / 03.04.2011)

Al-Hajj Malik al-Shabazz Formerly Malcolm X

Adapted from the pamphlet Malcolm X: Why I Embraced Islam by Yusuf Siddiqui. Quotes taken from The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley.

Malcolm X Timeline

May 19, 1925 – Born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska
1940 – Drops out of school at age 15

1946 – Convicted of burglary and sent to prison

1949 – 1951 – Studies the Nation of Islam

1952 – Leaves prison, dedicates himself to Nation of Islam, changes name to Malcolm X

Jan. 14, 1958 – Marries Betty X

Dec. 4, 1963 – Suspended from the Nation of Islam

March 1964 – Leaves Nation of Islam, starts the Muslim Mosque, Inc.

Apr. 22, 1964 – Makes his Hajj and becomes El-Hajj Malik al-Shabazz

Jun. 28, 1964 – Forms the Organization of Afro-American Unity

Jul. 17, 1964 – Speaks at the Organization of African Unity in Cairo

Aug. 13, 1964 – U.S. State and Justice Departments take notice of his influence on African leaders at the U.N.

Feb 21, 1965 – Al Hajj Malik assassinated in New York

Early Life

On May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm Little was born to Reverend Earl and Louise Little. Rev. Little, who believed in self-determination and worked for the unity of black people. Malcolm was raised in a background of ethnic awareness and dignity, but violence was sparked by white racists trying to stop black people such as Rev. Little from preaching the black cause.
The history of Malcolm’s dedication to black people, like that of his father, may have been motivated by a long history of oppression of his family. As a young child, Malcolm, his parents, brothers, and sisters were shot at, burned out of their home, harassed, and threatened. This culminated in the murder of his father by white racists when Malcolm was six.

Malcolm became a drop-out from school at the age of fifteen. Learning the ways of the streets, Malcolm became acquainted with hoodlums, thieves, dope peddlers, and pimps. Convicted of burglary at twenty, he remained in prison until the age of twenty-seven. During his prison stay he attempted to educate himself. In addition, during his period in prison he learned about and joined the Nation of Islam, studying the teachings of Elijah Muhammed fully. He was released, a changed man, in 1952.

The Nation of Islam

Upon his release, Malcolm went to Detroit, joined the daily activities of the sect, and was given instruction by Elijah Muhammad himself. Malcolm’s personal commitment helped build the organization nation-wide, while making him an international figure. He was interviewed on major television programs and by magazines, and spoke across the country at various universities and other forums. His power was in his words, which so vividly described the plight of blacks and vehemently incriminated whites. When a white person referred to the fact that some Southern university had enrolled black freshmen without bayonets, Malcolm reacted with scorn:
When I “slipped,” the program host would leap on the bait: “Ahhh! Indeed, Mr. Malcolm X — you can’t deny that’s an advance for your race!”
I’d jerk the pole then. “I can’t turn around without hearing about some ‘civil rights advance’! White people seem to think the black man ought to be shouting ‘hallelujah’! Four hundred years the white man has had his foot-long knife in the black man’s back — and now the whit man starts to wiggle the knife out, maybe six inches! The black man’s supposed to be grateful? Why, if the white man jerked the knife out, it’s still going to leave a scar!

Although Malcolm words often stung with the injustices against blacks in America, the equally racist views of the Nation of Islam kept him from accepting any whites as sincere or capable of helping the situation. For twelve years he preached that the white man was the devil and the “Honorable Elijah Muhammad” was God’s messenger. Unfortunately, most images of Malcolm today focus on this period of his life, although the transformation he was about to undergo would give him a completely different, and more important, message for the American people.
The Change to True Islam

On March 12, 1964, impelled by internal jealousy within the Nation of Islam and revelations of Elijah Muhammad’s sexual immorality, Malcolm left the Nation of Islam with the intention of starting his own organization:
I feel like a man who has been asleep somewhat and under someone else’s control. I feel what I’m thinking and saying now is for myself. Before, it was for and by guidance of another, now I think with my own mind.
Malcolm was thirty-eight years old when he left Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam. Reflecting on reflects that occurred prior to leaving, he said:
At one or another college or university, usually in the informal gatherings after I had spoken, perhaps a dozen generally white-complexioned people would come up to me, identifying themselves as Arabian, Middle Eastern or North African Muslims who happened to be visiting, studying, or living in the United States. They had said to me that, my white-indicting statements notwithstanding, they felt I was sincere in considering myself a Muslim — and they felt if I was exposed to what they always called “true Islam,” I would “understand it, and embrace it.” Automatically, as a follower of Elijah, I had bridled whenever this was said. But in the privacy of my own thoughts after several of these experiences, I did question myself: if one was sincere in professing a religion, why should he balk at broadening his knowledge of that religion?
Those orthodox Muslims whom I had met, one after another, had urged me to meet and talk with a Dr. Mahmoud Youssef Shawarbi. . . . Then one day Dr. Shawarbi and I were introduced by a newspaperman. He was cordial. He said he had followed me in the press; I said I had been told of him, and we talked for fifteen or twenty minutes. We both had to leave to make appointments we had, when he dropped on me something whose logic never would get out of my head. He said, “No man has believed perfectly until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”

The Effect of the Pilgrimage

Malcolm further continues about the Hajj:
The pilgrimage to Mecca, known as the Hajj, is a religious obligation that every orthodox Muslim fulfills, if able, at least once in his or her lifetime.
The Holy Quran says it, “Pilgrimage to the House [of God built by the prophet Abraham] is a duty men owe to God; those who are able, make the journey.” (3:97)

Allah said: “And proclaim the pilgrimage among men; they will come to you on foot and upon each lean camel, they will come from every deep ravine” (22:27).

Every one of the thousands at the airport, about to leave for Jeddah, was dressed this way. You could be a king or a peasant and no on e would know. Some powerful personages, who were discreetly pointed out to me, had on the same thing I had on. Once thus dressed, we all had begun intermittently calling out “Labbayka! (Allahumma) Labbayka!” (Here I come, O Lord!) Packed in the plane were white, black, brown, red, and yellow people, blue eyes and blond hair, and my kinky red hair — all together, brothers! All honoring the same God, all in turn giving equal honor to each other. . . .

That is when I first began to reappraise the “white man.” It was when I first began to perceive that “white man,” as commonly used, means complexion only secondarily; primarily it described attitudes and actions. In America,”white man” meant specific attitudes and actions toward the black man, and toward all other non-white men. But in the Muslim world, I had seen that men with white complexions were more genuinely brotherly than anyone else had ever been. That morning was the start of a radical alteration in my whole outlook about “white” men.

There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white an d the non-white…America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white — but the “white” attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespecitve of their color.

Malcolm’s New Vision of America

Malcolm continues:
Each hour here in the Holy Land enables me to have greater spiritual insights into what is happening in America between black and white. The American Negro never can be blamed for his racial animosities — he is only reacting to four hundred years of the conscious racism of the American whites. But as racism leads America up the suicide path I do believe, from the experiences that I have had with them, that the whites of the younger generation, in the colleges and universities, will see the handwriting on the wall and many of them will turn to the spiritual path of truth — the only way left to America to ward off the disaster that racism inevitably must lead to. . . .
I believe that God now is giving the world’s so-called ‘Christian’ white society its last opportunity to repent and atone for the crimes of exploiting and enslaving the world’s non-white peoples. It is exactly as when God gave Pharaoh a chance to repent. But Pharaoh persisted in his refusal to give justice to those who he oppressed. And, we know, God finally destroyed Pharaoh.

I will never forget the dinner at the Azzam home with Dr. Azzam. The more we talked, the more his vast reservoir of knowledge and its variety seemed unlimited. He spoke of the racial lineage of the descendants of Muhammad (PBUH) the Prophet, and he showed how they were both black and white. He also pointed out how color, and the problems of color which exist in the Muslim world, exist only where, and to the extent that, that area of the Muslim world has been influenced by the West. He said that if on encountered any differences based on attitude toward color, this directly reflected the degree of Western influence.

The Oneness of Man Under One God

It was during his pilgrimage that he began to write some letters to his loyal assistants at the newly formed Muslim Mosque in Harlem. He asked that his letter be duplicated and distributed to the press:

Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and the overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here in this ancient Holy Land, the House of Abraham, Muhammad, and all the other Prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors. . . .
You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. This was not too difficult for me. Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.

During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept in the same bed (or on the same rug) — while praying to the same God — with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the actions and in the deeds of the “white” Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan, and Ghana.

We were truly all the same (brothers) — because their belief in one God had removed the “white” from their minds, the ‘white’ from their behavior, and the ‘white’ from their attitude.

I could see from this, that perhaps if white Americans could accept the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the Oneness of Man — and cease to measure, and hinder, and harm others in terms of their “differences” in color.

With racism plaguing America like an incurable cancer, the so-called “Christian” white American heart should be more receptive to a proven solution to such a destructive problem. Perhaps it could be in time to save America from imminent disaster — the same destruction brought upon Germany by racism that eventually destroyed the Germans themselves.

They asked me what about the Hajj had impressed me the most. . . . I said, “The brotherhood! The people of all races, color, from all over the world coming to gether as one! It has proved to me the power of the One God. . . . All ate as one, and slept as one. Everything about the pilgrimage atmosphere accented the Oneness of Man under One God.

Malcolm returned from the pilgrimage as El-Hajj Malik al-Shabazz. He was afire with new spiritual insight. For him, the struggle had evolved from the civil rights struggle of a nationalist to the human rights struggle of an internationalist and humanitarian.
After the Pilgrimage

White reporters and others were eager to learn about El-Hajj Malik’s newly-formed opinions concerning themselves. They hardly believed that the man who had preached against them for so many years could suddenly turn around and call them brothers. To these people El-Hajj Malik had this to say:
You’re asking me “Didn’t you say that now you accept white men as brothers?” Well, my answer is that in the Muslim world, I saw, I felt, and I wrote home how my thinking was broadened! Just as I wrote, I shared true, brotherly love with many white-complexioned Muslims who never gave a single thought to the race, or to the complexion, of another Muslim.
My pilgrimage broadened my scope. It blessed me with a new insight. In two weeks in the Holy Land, I saw what I never had seen in thirty-nine years here in America. I saw all races, all colors, — blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans — in true brotherhood! In unity! Living as one! Worshipping as one! No segregationists — no liberals; they would not have known how to interpret the meaning of those words.

In the past, yes, I have made sweeping indictments of all white people. I will never be guilty of that again — as I know now that some white people are truly sincere, that some truly are capable of being brotherly toward a black man. The true Islam has shown me that a blanket indictment of all white people is as wrong as when whites make blanket indictments against blacks.

To the blacks who increasingly looked to him as a leader, El-Hajj Malik preached a new message, quite the opposite of what he had been preaching as a minister in the Nation of Islam:
True Islam taught me that it takes all of the religious, political, economic, psychological, and racial ingredients, or characteristics, to make the Human Family and the Human Society complete.
Since I learned the truth in Mecca, my dearest friends have come to include all kinds — some Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, and even atheists! I have friends who are called capitalists, Socialists, and Communists! Some of my friends are moderates, conservatives, extremists — some are even Uncle Toms! My friends today are black, brown, red, yellow, and white!

I said to my Harlem street audiences that only when mankind would submit to the One God who created all — only then would mankind even approach the “peace” of which so much talk could be heard…but toward which so little action was seen.

Too Dangerous to Last

El-Hajj Malik’s new universalistic message was the U.S. establishment’s worst nightmare. Not only was he appealing to the black masses, but to intellectuals of all races and colors. Now he was consistently demonized by the press as “advocating violence” and being “militant,” although in actuality he and Dr. Martin Luther King were moving closer together in outlook:
The goal has always been the same, with the approaches to it as different as mine and Dr. Martin Luther King’s non-violent marching, that dramatizes the brutality and the evil of the white man against defenseless blacks. And in the racial climate of this country today, it is anybody’s guess which of the “extremes” in approach to the black man’s problems might personally meet a fatal catastrophe first — “non-violent” Dr. King, or so-called “violent” me.”

El-Hajj Malik knew full well that he was a target of many groups. In spite of this, he was never afraid to say what he had to say when he had to say it. As a sort of epitaph at the end of his autobiography, he says:
I know that societies often have killed the people who have helped to change those societies. And if I can die having brought any light, having exposed any meaningful truth that will help to destroy the racist cancer that is malignant in the body of America — then, all of the credit is due to Allah. Only the mistakes have been mine.

The Legacy of Malcolm X

Although El-Hajj Malik kenw that he was a target for assassination, he accepted this fact without requesting police protection. On February 21, 1965, while preparing to give a speech at a New York hotel, he was shot by three black men. He was three months short of forty, the age of maturity according to the Qur’an. While it is clear that the Nation of Islam had something to do with the assassination, many people believe there was more than one organization involved. The FBI, known for its anti-black movement tendency, has been suggested as an accomplice. We may never know for sure who was behind El-Hajj Malik’s murder, or, for that matter, the murder of other national leaders in the early 1960s.
Malcolm X’s life has affected Americans in many important ways. His conversion must have had an influence on Elijah Muhammad’s son, Wallace Muhammad, who, after his father’s death, led the Nation of Islam’s followers into orthodox Islam. African-Americans’ interest in their Islamic roots has flourished since El-Hajj Malik’s death. Alex Haley, who wrote Malcolm’s autobiography, later wrote the epic Roots about an African Muslim family’s experience with slavery. More and more African-Americans are becoming Muslim, adopting Muslim names, or exploring African culture. Interest in Malcolm X has seen a surge recently due to Spike Lee’s movie, X. El-Hajj Malik is a source of pride for African-Americans, Muslims, and Americans in general. His message is simple and clear:

I am not a racist in any form whatever. I don’t believe in any form of racism. I don’t believe in any form of discrimination or segregation. I believe in Islam.

(Facebook / 03.04.2011)

Tunisian soldiers fire on protesters

Tunisian soldiers have fired in the air to disperse demonstrators in the southern town of Tozeur, injuring several people, a witness said.

About 50 unemployed workers had gathered on Saturday outside the local government offices in the town demanding to see the governor to voice their anger about a lack of jobs, Imed Bedoui, a union worker, said.

When the governor refused to meet the young men and women, they tried to storm the building and soldiers opened fire, he said.

“Soldiers fired to disperse the demonstrators and some people were injured, one seriously,” Bedoui said by phone.

“He was hit in the chest. I took him myself to hospital. He was in [a] very serious condition.”

Government officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

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The previous day, police in the capital fired tear gas at a group of an estimated 1,000 demonstrators, some of whom were throwing stones and burning tyres.

Quoting the interior ministry, the national news agency TAP said no one had been injured in Friday’s clashes, which came after earlier peaceful demonstrations in Tunis, the capital.

Protesters held two parallel demonstrations in the neighbourhood of the Kasbah, one by a group demanding more economic freedoms and the other by young Islamists shouting “God is great” and other religious slogans.

Many protesters said security forces continue to act in a repressive manner and words of reforms have not been converted into action.

“There is no change, the people and their understanding of freedom has changed, but the government has not changed and is not attempting to change itself,” Wajdi Saeed, one of the protesters in the Kasbah, said on Friday.

The violence in Tozeur and Tunis disrupts a period of relative calm since the popular revolt that ended the autocratic rule of president Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Ben Ali was toppled when rolling mass protests forced him to flee to Saudi Arabia on January 14, ending 23 years in power.

Interim authorities have struggled to restore stability, but last month laid out a plan for a transition to democracy.

Tunisia’s interim authorities appointed a new government on March 7 and disbanded much of the state security apparatus, notorious for human rights abuses under Ben Ali.

(english.aljazeera.net / 03.04.2011)

Raadgever Kadhafi stapt op

De hooggeplaatste Libische diplomaat Ali Triki heeft zijn functie neergelegd als raadgever van kolonel Moammar al-Kadhafi. Dat meldt de Arabische Liga zondag.

Triki, een voormalig minister van Buitenlandse Zaken en Afrikaanse Zaken, die Libië onder meer vertegenwoordigde bij de Verenigde Naties, had zondag in Caïro een onderhoud met de secretaris-generaal van de Arabische Liga Amr Moussa.

Hij heeft ontslag genomen uit zijn officiële functies, maar niet gezegd dat hij zich aansluit bij de rebellen die het regime van kolonel Kadhafi willen omverwerpen, aldus nog anonieme bronnen binnen de Liga.

Hij is al de tweede persoon uit het regime van Kadhafi die deze week opstapt. Eerder legde ook de Libische minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Moussa Koussa zijn functie neer.

(www.nieuwsblad.be / 03.04.2011)

Goldstone’s forced redaction does not clear Israeli war crimes

Judge Richard Goldstone’s op-ed in The Washington Post is a direct result of tremendous and fierce pressure practiced by the Israeli and the Zionist lobby against him, his family and his friends in a frenzied campaign to force him to retreat from his report, an objective yet strong international condemnation against war crimes committed by Israel during its aggression against the Gaza Strip two years ago.

Goldstone’s personal revision –  done under duress – does not change anything related to the report. While carrying his name, it was not developed or written solely by him, but by a Commission he headed. The report remains a document adopted by the Human Rights Council and UN bodies.

Goldstone cannot undo or change a single fact of the report, which has become the most important document for the international condemnation of Israel and the war crimes committed in the Gaza Strip.

Israel is trying to exaggerate Goldstone’s statements, although it refused to allow him access to the West Bank and has refused to cooperate with the committee. What we are witnessing is the result of a campaign against Goldstone to force him to say things he is not convinced of. It is a model for the ferocity of the Zionist lobby when it decides to target a person or institution.

This campaign against Goldstone is aimed at clearing the face of Israel to justify a new aggression on Gaza. What is required from the Palestinian Liberation Organization is to take the Goldstone report and the decision of the Hague Tribunal on the apartheid wall and settlements, which has been neglected for a period of six years, to the General Assembly of the United Nations. There they should explicitly demand sanctions on Israel and state that any laxity in the use of these important documents would encourage Israel to launch a counter attack to cancel their influence.

While Benajmin Netanyahu said the Goldstone report should go to the dustbin of history, it is the system of apartheid that should be relegated to history’s dustbin. Israel’s apartheid and the policy of the coalition government of the settlers represented by Netanyahu. As the people of South Africa were liberated, the Palestinian people will be liberated and one day Israel will be condemned their war crimes in Gaza and be convicted of all their previous crimes.

(www.mustafabarghouthi.org / 03.04.2011)

‘US orders Saudi invasion of Bahrain’

Interview with Rodney Shakespeare, Chairman of the Committee against Torture in Bahrain, from London

The United States has ordered Saudi Arabia’s invasion of Bahrain, says an analyst, as the Persian Gulf country is engulfed by anti-government protests.

The protests in Bahrain have been going on for weeks, but the ruling al-Khalifa monarchy hasn’t budged.

Instead protesters have faced a government crackdown, aided by its powerful ally Saudi Arabia, which, along with Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar have dispatched their armed forces to crisis-hit Bahrain to quash anti-government protests in the Persian Gulf country.

PressTV has interview Rodney Shakespeare, Chairman of the Committee against Torture in Bahrain, from London to discuss the issue further more.

PressTV: I’m looking at the website for Bahrain Center for Human Rights. It says more than three hundred and seventy people have been detained or are missing within days of the imposition of the national safety including twelve women. When you compare it to Libya, the Americans have been saying that Muammar Gaddafi has lost his legitimacy, [and] that he has to go because of using force against his people. But no such calls on the part of the Americans on the Bahraini ruler to step down for pretty much the same reason.

Shakespeare: This is sinister fascism. The Bahraini rulers are maniac killers and they brought in another lot of killers, the Saudis. Behind this fascism is the USA and you quoted what US Secretary State Hilary Clinton said and people do not quite see the meaning. She said that any government may bring in foreign troops to kill their own citizens and that means that the American government may bring in foreign troops or use its own troops to kill American citizens. That fascism is now a lot in the Middle East.

If I may say so, America does not have long term interests in the Persian Gulf. It should get its oil on the market like anybody else. The problem is that an out-of-date American policy is linked with the Israeli regime giving either secret or open support to a Zionist Israel and that is the crux of the matter. And that explains why the Americans feel they can intervene in Libya because Libya is not crucial to the maintenance of the totalitarian, authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and their support for the Zionist Israel which is [a] paranoid attack dog and it’s totally out of control and it has no intention ever allowing an independent Palestine.

So yes there was a deal between the Saudis who basically steamroller the other members of the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Group to agree to giving support in Libya and, in exchange, the fascist have been let loose in Bahrain and the Americans ordered it. There are 4,500 troops in Bahrain and they said “do it.” Because if Bahrain or Saudi Arabia did not want to do it, the Americans could have stopped them immediately. I say it was an American order. It is fascism in Bahrain, fascism in the Middle East and it’s a fascism which is coming to the United States and Hillary Clinton does said so.

PressTV: Why is Iran being blamed for what is happening in Bahrain and how likely is a military confrontation or any confrontation between the Saudi Arabia and Iran as a result?

Shakespeare: There are two countries which are deliberately trying to involve the Americans in a war with Iran. The first is Saudi Arabia. It is a country which is profoundly unstable. If they dare to ever have an election, 98 percent of the population will vote out the existing corrupt … regime and so they are playing their foreign card that is blaming everything that they can on Iran. The other one also playing the same foreign card is Israel and Israel’s policy is to create chaos in the Middle East in which it can expand. Those are two countries more than anything else.

But unfortunately Zionist Israel also controls the foreign policy of the United States. So there are great forces all the time in the British newspapers, you get lines here in — say — the Daily Telegraph, all that making sly attacks on Iran and Iran has got nothing to do with it. Bahrain has admitted that … So you have got propaganda aimed at Iran. It is on the principle of Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister of Hitler, who said “if you are going to tell a lie, make sure that you tell a really big one.”

(networkedblogs.com / 03.04.2011)

U.N. Vote On Palestinian State Could Force Israel’s Hand

With revolutionary fervor sweeping the Middle East, Israel is under mounting pressure to make a far-reaching offer to the Palestinians or face a United Nations vote welcoming the State of Palestine as a member whose territory includes all of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Authority has been steadily building support for such a resolution in September, a move that could place Israel into a diplomatic vise. Israel would be occupying land belonging to a fellow United Nations member, land it has controlled and settled for more than four decades and some of which it expects to keep in any two-state solution.

“We are facing a diplomatic-political tsunami that the majority of the public is unaware of and that will peak in September,” said Ehud Barak, Israel’s defense minister, at a conference in Tel Aviv last month. “It is a very dangerous situation, one that requires action.” He added, “Paralysis, rhetoric, inaction will deepen the isolation of Israel.”

With aides to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thrashing out proposals to the Palestinians, President Shimon Peres is due at the White House on Tuesday to meet with President Obama and explore ways out of the bind. The United States is still uncertain how to move the process forward, according to diplomats here.

Israel’s offer is expected to include transfer of some West Bank territory outside its settlements to Palestinian control and may suggest a regional component — an international conference to serve as a response to the Arab League peace initiatives.

But Palestinian leaders, emboldened by support for their statehood bid, dismiss the expected offer as insufficient and continue to demand an end to settlement building before talks can begin.

“We want to generate pressure on Israel to make it feel isolated and help it understand that there can be no talks without a stop to settlements,” said Nabil Shaath, who leads the foreign affairs department of Fatah, the main party of the Palestinian Authority. “Without that, our goal is membership in the United Nations General Assembly in September.”

Israeli, Palestinian and Western officials interviewed on the current impasse, most of them requesting anonymity, expressed an unusual degree of pessimism about a peaceful resolution. All agreed that the turmoil across the Middle East had prompted opposing responses from Israel and much of the world.

Israel, seeing the prospect of even more hostile governments as its neighbors, is insisting on caution and time before taking any significant steps. It also wants to build in extensive long-term security guarantees in any two-state solution, but those inevitably infringe the sovereignty of a Palestinian state.

The international community tends to draw the opposite conclusion. Foreign Secretary William Hague of Britain, for example, said last week that one of the most important lessons to be learned from the Arab Spring was that “legitimate aspirations cannot be ignored and must be addressed.” He added, referring to Israeli-Palestinian talks, “It cannot be in anyone’s interests if the new order of the region is determined at a time of minimum hope in the peace process.”

(www.theyeshivaworld.com / 03.04.2011)