Muhammad (pbuh)

Muhammad (pbuh) was wise and well-respected man who was born in Makkah in the year 570 C.E., at a time when Christianity was not yet fully established in Europe. His first years were marked by the deaths of his parents. Since his father died before his birth, his uncle, Abu Talib, from the respected tribe of Quraysh, raised him. As Muhammad (pbuh) grew up, he became known for his truthfulness, generosity and sincerity, so that he was sought after for his ability to arbitrate in disputes. His reputation and personal qualities also led to his marriage, at the age of twenty-five, to Khadijah, a widow whom he had assisted in business. Thenceforth, he became an important and trusted citizen of Makkah. Historians describe him as calm and meditative.

Muhammad (pbuh) never felt fully content to be part of a society whose values he considered to be devoid of true religious significance. It became his habit to retreat from time to time to the cave of Hira’, to meditate near the summit of Jabal al-Nur, the “Mountain of Light”, near Makkah.

At the age of 40, while engaged in one such meditative retreat, Muhammad (pbuh) received his first revelation from God through the Angel Gabriel. This revelation, which continued for twenty-three years, is known as the Qur’an, the faithful recording of the entire revelation of God. The first revelation read:

{Recite: In the name of your Lord Who created man from a clot (of blood). Recite: Your Lord is Most Noble, Who taught by the pen, taught man what he did not know.} [96:1-5]

It was this reality that he gradually and steadily came to learn and believe, until he fully realized that it is the truth.

His first convert was his wife Khadijah, whose support and companionship provided necessary reassurance and strength. He also won the support of some of his relatives and friends. Three basic themes of the early message were the majesty of the one, unique God, the futility of idol worship, the threat of judgment, and the necessity of faith, compassion and morality in human affairs. All these themes represented an attack on the crass materialism and idolatry prevalent in Makkah at the time. So when he began to proclaim the message to others the Makkans rejected him. He and his small group of followers suffered bitter persecution, which grew so fierce that in the year 622 C.E., God gave them the command to emigrate. This event, the Hijrah (migration), in which they left Makkah for the city of Madinah, some 260 miles to the north, marked the beginning of a new era and thus the beginning of the Muslim calendar. During his suffering, Muhammad (pbuh) drew comfort from the knowledge revealed to him about other prophets, such as Abraham, Joseph, and Moses, each of whom had also been persecuted and tested.

After several years and some significant battles, the Prophet and his followers were able to return to Makkah, where they forgave their enemies and established Islam definitively. By the time the Prophet died, at the age of 63, the greater part of Arabia had accepted Islam, and within a century of his death, Islam had spread as far west as Spain and as far east as China. It was clear that the message was not limited to Arabs; it was for the whole of humanity.

The Prophet’s sayings (Hadith), are also believed to be revelation. The number of sayings collected by his followers and scholars is about 10,000. Some typical examples of his sayings are as follows:

“To pursue knowledge is obligatory on every believing (man and woman).” [Ibn Majah]

“Removing a harmful thing from the road is charity.” [Bukhari, Muslim]

“Those who do not show tenderness and love cannot expect to have tenderness shown to them.” [Bukhari]

“Adore Allah (God) as though you see Him; even if you do not see Him, He nonetheless sees you.” {Bukhari, Muslim]

Although Muhammad (pbuh) is deeply loved, revered and emulated by Muslims as God’s final messenger, he is not an object of worship.

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Genocide: the sad ambitions of Buddhist militants and their need for real estate.

(SALEM, Ore.) – Black July, is the term generally associated with the start of deadly combat ops in the Sri Lanka Civil War that began in 1983, and ended two years ago. It is a story of a minority population living in a country that seeks to be a religious nation; not Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim, but Buddhist.

Mobs of Sinhalese rampaged in Tamil neighborhoods back in July ’83, murdering between 400 and 3000 people, according to reports. Their anger stemmed from a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) operation that left 13 SLA soldiers dead.

The rioting Sinhala mobs are said to have destroyed tens of thousands of Tamil homes. Though the Tamil Tiger attack was a military operation against the SLA, the retribution by angry mobs was carried out against civilians who were not involved in the attack on the Sri Lankan soldiers.

Religious governments rarely if ever run smoothly, and the struggle of the Hindu, Christian and Muslim Tamil minority in Sri Lanka is riddled with tragedy and soaked in blood.

Religious freedom is one of the greatest and most essential gifts a nation can offer its people. Without it, human beings fall into patterns scarcely more elevated than cave men.

Patterns in colonialism

There are remarkable similarities between the plight of the Tamil people, and the Palestinians who today live surrounded by Israel. Israel became a government after the British turned over control in 1948. That is the same year that the nation we now known as Sri Lanka, also gained independence from the UK, though the circumstances were different.

British Ceylon Colonial Coat of arms

Until 1948, the occupied island nation was ‘British Ceylon’. The name officially changed in 1972, to “Free, Sovereign and Independent Republic of Sri Lanka”. In 1978 it changed again, to the current name, the “Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka”.

Under British rule, the Tamil people were favored over the Buddhist Sinhalese. Each culture has suffered its share of oppression. That much is clear.

The island was colonized in the late 1700’s by the English, when it became a hub of business for the East India Trading Company. Known for its amazing spices including cinnamon, Sri Lanka naturally and quickly became a desirable spot for western interests.

The colonists abused the civil rights of natives on the island and increasing grievances, along with reports of mistreatment and the frequent abuse of authorities, gave rise to a struggle for independence by the 1930s.

Youth leagues opposed what was known as the “Ministers’ Memorandum,” which sought to increase colonial authority by increasing the powers of the board of ministers without granting popular representation or civil freedoms.

DEPRESSION by Agron Belica Salem-News.comDepression by Agron Belica (featuring Tim King & Dr. Andrew Higginbottom)
Produced by Tim Adamack
Co-Produced by Patrick, Dreier Double D Recording Studio,
Agron Belica- and Tim King

Agron world stage, eyes wet on the gaze;
Extermination—human beings killed everywhere on a Blaze;
Despots no feelin’; never cease to amaze;
Two-faced for the people; evil eyes they seek the praise

Fam, can you hear me now? The world’s in turmoil;
Global war, bodies dead, sinful greedies keep the spoils!
The ground changing colors from the blood spilled in the soils,
Humanity served up on the ground like freakin’ charbroil

Media spin; the lies you fall for; all the tricks—
People everywhere blinded by the freakin’ politics;
No meaning anywhere man; what happened to human ethics?
Witness here, man, human beings butchered in the graphics!

It’s not right! The killing everywhere is overwhelmin’;
Souls trapped and oppressed, screamin’ why you’re not protectin’?
Human beings like you and me have a right to peaceful livin’;
Wake up an’ protest! These violations are depressin’!

Sick and tired, man, of being freakin’ sick and tired—
A country built on justice? With the devil they’ve conspired!
Some held accountable and for others they give a pass;
With human rights violations, dead bodies they amass! Their affiliates deleting all the truthful documents,
Deception here, saved, reserved seat for their descendants;
Puppet kings, pulled strings, genocide is global!
Legal organized crime! Divine treason, highest level!

Newsbreak: they’re killin’ off all the journalists!
Tim King reports Sri Lanka: there the killin’s vicious!
The world is goin’ mad; pay attention, stop and listen!
Check how they’re fillin’ up the graves of men, women, and children!

Economic crisis in the world—what a mess!
Debt piling up; our children soon to face the darkness;
So you wonder why I’m in a depressed state of mind?
Mankind desensitized; morality on decline!

Salem-News writers movin’ forward not stoppin’
Tim King, Ken O’Keefe, Bonnie King, and Eileen Fleming;
Gilad Otzmon, Instrumental Genius—
The whole Salem-News crew bringin’ truth somethin’ vicious!

Mainstream media tries to cover it up fam!
Don’t get us twisted with the others; proof is on the freakin cam!
The crew is serious about the preservation of life
Sick and tired of the bull, man; time to get it right.

Everything changed during World War II, when the island became an important base of operations for allied forces fighting the Japanese. Wikipedia explains that large segments of the British and American fleet were deployed on British Ceylon, along with of thousands of ground forces.

Tolerance of Diversity

In Sri Lanka, religious difference culminated in a genocide of tens of thousands of Tamil civilians and also military prisoners of war. Oh wait, if a liberation resistance group is deemed ’terrorist’ by western governments, they aren’t classified as POW’s, and that is a highly problematic situation when it comes to maintaining human rights that are mandated by the United Nations.

The final toll from the Tamil Genocide in terms of human lives, will really never truly be known, but up to 146,000 people remain unaccounted for according to some sources. As I indicated in my last report about the deadly events that led to so much death, the Sri Lanka government and its supporters were sure to either kill or kidnap Tamil friendly journalists, some of whom were Sinhalese, and that largely kept the Genocide from public view.

Revelation of Mayhem

However eight months after the mayhem took place, an unidentified SLA soldier released the images of not only the endless piles of bodies, children slashed to death, hung by their necks, babies dismembered, their heads smashed; but also video showing everything but actual rape taking place.

At one point female Tamil Tigers (presumably) are laying on the ground, all at least partially nude, and the soldiers on the video are heard talking about having sex with them because the women’s bodies ‘are still warm’.

One as it turns out, was a well known Tamil newscaster who worked for an LTTE Website. As the young women are roughly picked up and tossed into the back of a pickup, it is clear that at least one is still alive and moving.


When it all came down in 2009, Tamil people were cut off and surrounded, and they were unable to escape the SLA’s stormtrooper style military onslaught.

The government of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa has alleged repeatedly that the Tamil people used civilians as ‘human shields’ and that they say, is why so many civilians died.

Personally, I have a hard time believing that a group of resistance fighters would sacrifice the very people they were fighting on behalf of. The United Nations must bring criminals to justice if they ever want to see a world exist without Genocide.

According to Wikipedia, about 300,000 Tamils were displaced in Sri Lanka at the end of the civil war and by 2 May 2010, 214,227 of the displaced had returned, that amounts to 74% that according to the Sri Lanka Army (SLA), have either been released or returned to their places of origin.

Dr. Andrew Higginbottom speaking to Tamils recently in the UK

A review of history shows that there are instances where the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam committed war crimes that included the ethnic cleansing of Muslims at one point, however Tamil Tigers say the government drove wedges between the Muslim community, their former allies, and the Tamil Hindus and Christians.

But the Tamil Tigers didn’t slaughter people by the tens of thousands; people who were totally innocent and had no connections to reported ’terrorist’ groups.

I believe the human race eventually heels from hardship, but the wanton slaughter of human beings over affiliations, over past history, over religious difference and for a desire to live free, that is not acceptable.

The new song Depression by Agron Belica is his latest news/music fusion (Coining the term newsic) cut that takes a heap of human conscience, mixes it with a hip hop beat, a high degree of factual accuracy, plenty of raw emotion, and drives it home with a video that speaks of horrific tragedy; the Tamil Genocide of 2009.

( / 27.05.2011)

Stadsbus laat Marokkaanse voor de derde keer staan

Fatima Achfie bij de bushalte in Terwijde, waar ze uiteindelijk toch nog terechtkwam.

Ze stond te zwaaien met haar buskaartje. De chauffeur remde af, zag haar met haar hoofddoekje staan en trapte onverstoord het gaspedaal in. Fatima Achfie is klaar met busbedrijf GVU. Gisterochtend werd ze voor de derde keer voorbijgereden bij de bushalte op de Vleutenseweg in Utrecht. ‘Ik ga vandaag nog aangifte doen bij de politie.’

 Als de klacht klopt, heeft de chauffeur een serieus probleem. Zeg maar een gróót probleem

GVU-directeur Arnold Leschot

Ook bij het busbedrijf heeft ze een klacht ingediend. Achfie (39) stond als enige bij de halte. ‘De chauffeur keek mij recht in het gezicht. Ik ben het zo zat. Alleen omdat ik een hoofddoekje op heb?’

Geen twijfel
Volgens de van oorsprong Marokkaanse moest de bus verderop stoppen voor het rode verkeerslicht. Ze rende de bus nog achterna, zwaaiend met haar buskaartje.

‘Bij de chauffeur kan er geen twijfel hebben bestaan over het feit dat ik met de bus mee wilde,’ vertelt  Achfie in het AD. ‘Achter in de bus zag ik een jongeman die naar me keek. Hij zag het ook allemaal met verbazing aan.’

GVU-directeur Arnold Leschot zegt dat de chauffeur in kwestie zich kan opmaken voor een stevig gesprek. ‘We moeten de klacht uiteraard goed beoordelen. Maar als die klopt, heeft de chauffeur een serieus probleem. Zeg maar een gróót probleem.’

Bekend gegeven
Het busbedrijf krijgt volgens Leschot minder dan tien klachten per jaar over discriminatie door chauffeurs. ‘Dat zegt nog niet zoveel over de werkelijke discriminatie. Wij zien natuurlijk alleen de gevallen waarin daadwerkelijk een klacht is ingediend.’

Bij het kenniscentrum over discriminatie in Rotterdam is discriminatie in het openbaar vervoer een bekend gegeven. Onderzoek onder allochtonen uit 2009 wijst uit dat ongeveer 10 procent discriminatie ervaart.

( / 27.05.2011)


Hillary Clinton Launches “Muslim Civilization” Science Exhibition

LOS ANGELES, May 25, 2011 — Opening May 27th at the California Science Center with a Special Message

LOS ANGELES, May 25, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, launched an award-winning exhibition about scientific achievements from the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization, with a special video message at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. The 1001 Inventions exhibition, which has attracted more than 1 million visitors over the past year during an international tour, opened for a VIP launch day on May 25th attended by LA County Sheriff Lee Baca and Ambassadors from LA-based foreign consulates.

In her pre-recorded message, Secretary Clinton praised the work of the 1001 Inventions initiative for “celebrating a millennium of science and innovation in the Muslim world,” and described the launch of the exhibition as “an exciting day.”

Mrs. Clinton remarked that “the Muslim world has a proud history of innovators” and highlighted the achievements of pioneers like Fatima Al-Fihri, who founded the world’s first modern university, and master engineer Al-Jazari, who created the crank mechanisms that drive every plane, train and automobile on the planet.

Prof. Salim Al-Hassani, Chairman of 1001 Inventions, commented, “We’re honored that Secretary Clinton agreed to launch our exhibition here at one of the most prestigious science museums in the world. California Science Center has an international reputation for excellence in providing engaging and entertaining science experiences for young and old alike.

“The goal of 1001 Inventions is to highlight the astounding contribution that Muslim civilization has made in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and how those advances still affect our lives today. More than a million people have already visited the 1001 Inventions exhibition during the first year of its global tour and that is the greatest endorsement we could ever hope for.”

The 1001 Inventions exhibition is currently on a five-year global tour, sponsored by ALJ Community Initiatives. Following blockbuster runs in London, Istanbul and New York, it will open to the public at the California Science Center, in Los Angeles, on May 27, 2011 for a seven-month run. The exhibition explores the scientific contributions made by men and women during the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization. Through interactive displays, guests will explore basic science principles that are often taken for granted, in such fields as optics, time-keeping, hydraulics, navigation, architecture and mathematics.

1001 Inventions highlights the contributions of scholars from a diverse region stretching from Spain through China during the 7th to 17th centuries. Visitors will discover how scholars from this region, of various faiths and cultures, preserved, nurtured, and advanced the world’s knowledge in science and technology.

The 1001 Inventions exhibition was recently crowned “Best Touring Exhibition” of the year at the annual Museums and Heritage Excellence Awards in London – considered by many to be the “Oscars” of the Museum world – fighting off stiff competition from some of the world’s biggest names in exhibitions.

Full Text of Secretary Clinton’s Speech

I’m delighted to send greetings to each of you at this year’s 1001 Inventions, celebrating a millennium of science and innovation in the Muslim world. This exhibition honors the remarkable accomplishments of Muslims throughout history. From a woman who founded a University in the ninth century, to a thirteenth century inventor and mechanical engineer, to a surgeon whose writings influenced European medicine for hundreds of years, and so many more.

And of course, we’re looking at the impact of technology in the Muslim world right now as young people throughout the Middle East and North Africa find new ways to use social networking to get organized and to express their aspirations. Connection technologies offer an unprecedented opportunity. A platform through which everyone, from farmers to students to entrepreneurs, can exchange ideas and hatch plans for the world’s next great invention.

But technology does not decide the future. People do. So as this exhibition shows, the Muslim world has a proud history of innovators. Now is the time to tap in to that legacy to harness the power of science and technology, and to create new pathways to prosperity. This is an exciting day and thank you for letting me share it with you.

About 1001 Inventions

1001 Inventions is a global educational initiative that promotes awareness of scientific and cultural achievements from the ‘Golden Age’ of Muslim civilization and how those contributions helped build the foundations of our modern world. This period lasted approximately 1000 years from the 7th century onwards. The 1001 Inventions exhibition and educational products all highlight the scientific and technological achievements made by men and women, of different faiths and cultures, who lived in or were connected with broader Muslim civilization.

Originally funded by the British government and launched in the United Kingdom in 2006, 1001 Inventions was created by the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilization (FSTC). FSTC is a British-based non-profit, international network of the world’s leading academics with expertise in the history of science and technology. Both 1001 Inventions and FSTC are non-religious, apolitical organizations and have received support from various arms of the British government, the Wellcome Trust and the British Science Association. Prior to its London launch in January 2010, the content of 1001 Inventions was rigorously reviewed by its inaugural host, the London Science Museum.

About the California Science Center

The California Science Center is a dynamic destination where families, adults and children can explore the wonders of science through interactive exhibits, live demonstrations, innovative programs and awe-inspiring films. Its mission is as follows:” We aspire to stimulate curiosity and inspire science learning in everyone by creating fun, memorable experiences, because we value science as an indispensable tool for understanding our world, accessibility and inclusiveness, and enriching people’s lives.”

General Info:  The California Science Center and IMAX Theater are located in historic Exposition Park just west of the Harbor (110) Freeway at 700 Exposition Park Drive, Los Angeles. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. For recorded information, including IMAX show times, call 323.SCIENCE (323.724-3623). IMAX ticket prices range from $4.75 to $8.25. For advance ticket purchases, group rates, or to make reservations for any visiting group of 15 or more (required), call 213.744-2019. Parking is available in the guest lot at Figueroa and 39th / Exposition Park Drive at $8 per car, and $25 for commercial buses or oversize vehicles. Both the Science Center and IMAX Theater is wheelchair accessible. For further information, please visit our website at

About Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives (ALJCI)

The global tour of the 1001 Inventions exhibition is sponsored by ALJ Community Initiatives, which is the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of the ALJ Group – a Toyota automobiles distributor in 13 different countries. ALJCI plans and operates numerous global programs, such as poverty-alleviation initiatives, artistic and educational projects and technology innovation grants, including a long history of scholarships for students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ALJCI is the global sponsor of the 1001 Inventions exhibition and its international tour.

For media enquiries, please contact: Shell Amega, California Science Center Foundation 888-690-6669 /  Junaid Bhatti, Director of Marketing, 1001 Inventions / +44 7980 586 243 / +1 202 509 4124

( /  27.05.2011)

Africa first aid convoy to head for Gaza

A Palestinian man waits before crossing into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing, southern Gaza Strip on Thursday.
Africa’s first land-based humanitarian aid relief convoy heads for the besieged Gaza Strip this June in an attempt to raise awareness about the plight of the Palestinians.

The convoy has been organized by the South African based al-Quds Foundation and supported by a myriad of civil society organizations and charities, according to a press release obtained by Press TV.

The Convoy is set to leave Cape Town in South Africa in the last week of June 2011.

It plans to pass through Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Egypt and finally docks at the coastal sliver.

The initiative is an effort to alleviate the hardship of the Palestinian people and raise awareness about their enormous suffering.

In 2006, Israel imposed economic siege on Gaza Strip effectively prevented much needed supplies from reaching the impoverished enclave.

On May 31, Israeli navy commandos stormed the Gaza Freedom flotilla as it was sailing towards the blockaded Gaza Strip in international waters, killing nine Turkish activists onboard the six-vessel civilian humanitarian assistance flotilla and injuring at least 50 others.

( / 27.05.2011)

Fraude in thuiszorg: Marokkaanse ouderen slachtoffer

Zorg declareren die niet geleverd is en het volle pond rekenen voor niet-gekwalificeerde medewerkers. Volgens een klokkenluider die zich meldde bij actualiteitenprogramma EenVandaag, wordt dat op grote schaal gedaan door thuiszorgorganisatie H+B.

Ook zouden dochterbedrijven maar een klein gedeelte van de gemaakte zorgkosten uitgekeerd krijgen van H+B en zou het bedrijf medewerkers onderbetalen. In het bedrijf zou zo’n 40 procent van de kosten worden gespendeerd aan overhead.

Volgens EenVandaag zijn vooral eerstegeneratie Marokkanen het slachtoffer van de fraude. Zij zijn het Nederlands vaak niet machtig en zijn daardoor makkelijke slachtoffers, omdat ze weinig kennis hebben over het Nederlandse zorgsysteem.

H+B is in Den Haag gevestigd en richt zich naast thuiszorg ook op arbeidsbemiddeling en een GGZ voor de jeugd. Volgens de site zijn integriteit, klantgerichtheid en flexibiliteit kernwaardes van het bedrijf.

Een aantal zorgverzekeraars heeft inmiddels de samenwerking met het bedrijf opgezegd.

( / 27.05.2011)

1 December 1947: The partition of Palestine

1947 Haifa harbour

Haifa harbor, Palestine. Photograph: Dmitri Kessel./Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image
Alistair Cooke was UN correspondent for the Manchester Guardian from 1945 to 1948. He was the paper’s chief correspondent for the US from 1948 until 1972. He died in 2004.

The partition of Palestine in 1947 led to the founding of the state of Israel on 14 May 14.

( / 27.05.2011)

Turkije roept Syrië opnieuw op tot hervormingen

De Turkse premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan heeft de Syrische leider Bashar al-Assad vandaag opnieuw gevraagd hervormingen door te voeren. Turkije hoopt dat zo een einde komt aan het geweld in Syrië.

Erdogan, die een goede relatie onderhoudt met de Syrische leider, voert de druk steeds meer op. De premier wil dat het land meer een democratie wordt, maar eiste niet dat Assad aftreedt. Turkije probeert al meer dan een maand het conflict op te lossen door gesprekken met Assad.

Vorige week waarschuwde minister Ahmet Davutoglu van Buitenlandse Zaken Syrië dat de tijd nu wel begint te dringen. Volgens mensenrechtenorganisaties zijn minstens duizend mensen omgekomen tijdens de opstand in Syrië. Meer dan tienduizend demonstranten zouden sinds 15 maart zijn gearresteerd.

( / 27.05.2011)

Henning Mankell will be on next Gaza aid flotilla

Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell will take part in the next international flotilla that will attempt to bring aid to Gaza at the end of June, organisers said Wednesday.

Mankell, the author of the popular Wallander series of detective novels, will be among a total of 20 Swedish participants in the “Freedom Flotilla 2,” Ship to Gaza Sweden said in a statement.

“Interest in participating in the Freedom Flotilla has been enormous and we have been forced to turn down many people who wanted to show their solidarity with practical actions,” the organisers said, providing the names of eight of the Swedes scheduled to take part.

The Swedes, who also include a parliamentarian and a midwife, will be among the “thousands” of pro-Palestinian activists from around the world set to participate in the convoy, the statement said.

Mankell was one of 11 Swedes who participated in last year’s aid flotilla of six ships carrying 682 people from 42 countries that headed for Gaza despite warnings from Israel, which is blockading the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory.

Israeli marines swarmed aboard the Turkish flagship of the flotilla bound for Gaza, killing nine Turks in international waters and plunging ties with Ankara into deep crisis.

Upon his return to Sweden after that ordeal, Mankell charged that “all the ships (in the flotilla) were hijacked, and this was really piracy.”

“What will happen next year when we come back with hundreds of boats? Will (Israel) fire a nuclear bomb?” he asked.

( / 27.05.2011)

Protesters ‘shot dead’ by Syrian forces

London, (Pal Telegraph) – More deaths reported as several towns witness fresh demonstrations against president Assad’s one-party rule.

At least three people have been killed in Qatana, a suburb of the capital Damascus, after Syrian security forces used live fire to disperse hundreds of anti-government demonstrators, activists say.

According to Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr reporting from neighbouring Lebanon, there were also reports of five protesters being shot dead in Dael, a southern town located 10km from Deraa, and one other in Zabadani, a town not far from the Lebanese border.

The killings came amid renewed demonstrations after midday prayers on Friday, dubbed “day for the Guardians of the Homeland” by pro-democracy advocates in an effort to reach out to the army to join their 10-week uprising.

As prayers ended, demonstrations were reported to be taking place in Idlib, in the country’s north west, in Deir al-Zur in the north east, and in Qamishli, Amouda and Ras al Ain in the Kurdish areas in Syria’s north.

Bid to win over army

An eyewitness to the early morning attacks in Dael told Al Jazeera that the secret police opened fire on a crowd of around 3,000 locals who were returning to town from a peaceful march to the army barracks on the outskirts.

He said the crowd was chanting, “The people and army are one hand”.

The march had passed off peacefully, until the secret police opened fire on the crowd as tanks entered the town, he said.

Khodr, our correspondent, said the number of casualties had been low in comparison to previous Friday protests, “a sign that the Syrian government is realising that it cannot stop these protests by relying [only] on a security option” without dialogue.

She has been reporting from Beirut as Al Jazeera is banned from entering Syria.

She said pro-democracy activists viewed the latest protests as a success since people took to the streets in cities like Homs and Banias despite a military siege.

But the demonstrators did not achieve any of their goal, which was to “get the army to switch sides” and stop shooting at protesters, she said.

The fresh violence came amid a brutal military crackdown on protests, that have swept the country for weeks and shaken the one-party rule of president Bashar al-Assad.

More than a 1,000 people are believed to have been killed in the crackdown to date.

The harsh crackdown has triggered international outrage and US and European sanctions, including an EU assets freeze and a visa ban on Assad and nine members of his regime.

Amnesty International, the human rights group, has accused Syrian security forces of deliberately killing hundreds of demonstrators in the city of Deraa.

G8 shock over deaths

Group of Eight [G8] leaders attending a summit in France on Friday said they were “appalled” at the killing of peaceful protesters in Syria, and are considering “further measures” against the country.

“We are appalled by the deaths of many peaceful protesters as a result of the sweeping use of violence in Syria as well as by repeated and serious violations of human rights,” the leaders said in the communique on Friday.

But the statement refrained from an explicit proposal, contained in earlier drafts of the document obtained by the Associated Press, to act against Damascus in the UN Security Council.

“Should the Syrian authorities not heed this call, we will consider further measures. We are convinced that only by implementing meaningful reforms will a democratic Syria be able to play a positive role in the region,” it said.

The shift in language to a vaguer threat of “further measures” may reflect reluctance from Russia, which has a veto in the Security Council.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy echoed US president Barack Obama’s call for Syrian leader Assad to lead a transition to democracy or to step down.

“President Assad now has a choice. He can lead that transition or get out of the way. The Syrian government must stop shooting demonstrators and allow peaceful protests,” Sarkozy said on Friday at the end of the G8 summit in Deauville, France.

Both Russia and China have been reluctant to support any UN resolution condemning Syria. Russia has in the past accused NATO of going beyond their brief on the UN resolution in Libya.

More than 220 civil society organisations from across the Arab world appealed to the Security Council this week to adopt a resolution demanding an immediate end to the use of lethal force against protesters in Syria.

( / 27.05.2011)