Violence kills 27 as Iraq cabinet talks security

Residents clean the site of a bomb attack in Baghdad’s Sadr City May 28, 2013.

Violence in Iraq killed 27 people on Tuesday, officials said, as the cabinet discussed how to curb unrest that has left over 500 dead this month and raised fears of all-out sectarian conflict.

The U.N. envoy to Iraq meanwhile urged the country’s feuding leaders to meet to resolve long-running political crises that have paralyzed the government and been blamed for its inability to halt the bloodshed.

As of Tuesday, 530 people have been killed and more than 1,300 wounded in May, making it the deadliest month in at least a year, according to a tally of official figures.

May is the second month in a row in which more than 400 people have been killed, for a total of almost 1,000 dead in less than two months — a toll that continued to mount on Tuesday.

Attacks in Baghdad, including a bomb that exploded on a bus in the Shiite Sadr City area in the capital’s north, killed at least six people and wounded more than 30, officials said.

North of the capital, a suicide truck bomber killed four people and wounded eight in Tarmiyah, and three relatives of the deputy head of the Salaheddin provincial council were gunned down near Baiji.

Gunmen also killed two Sahwa anti-Al-Qaeda militiamen and wounded two more near Tikrit, north of Baghdad, while a third was shot dead in the northern city of Kirkuk.

In Mosul, four police and four gunmen died in clashes, and gunmen also shot dead a tribal sheikh in the northern city.

And a bombing near Mosul killed police intelligence officer Lieutenant Colonel Faris al-Rashidi and wounded three other police, while a suicide bomber driving an explosives-rigged vehicle killed a soldier and wounded two south of the city.

The attacks come a day after a wave of violence, including bombings in Baghdad that mainly targeted Shiite areas, killed 58 people and wounded 187.

As the violence raged, the cabinet discussed Iraq’s “security challenges” and ways to address them, afterwards announcing a series of measures aimed at stemming the bloodletting.

These measures included “pursuing all kinds of militias,” calling for a meeting of political powers to discuss developments, providing unspecified support to security agencies, and warning the media against inciting sectarian strife, said a cabinet statement.

Iraq has already suspended the licenses of 10 satellite television channels for allegedly inciting sectarianism, although an official in the country’s media regulator said on Tuesday at least some of those channels would have their licenses restored “soon.”

It was unclear what if any immediate impact the announced measures would have on security, especially given that authorities have unsuccessfully struggled for years to curb the violence plaguing the country.

United Nations envoy Martin Kobler called on Tuesday for Iraq’s leaders to engage in dialogue and stop the bloodshed.

“I once again urge all Iraqi leaders to do everything possible to protect Iraqi civilians. It is their responsibility to stop the bloodshed now,” said Kobler.

“It is the politicians’ responsibility to act immediately and to engage in dialogue to resolve the political impasse and not let terrorists benefit from their political differences.”

Iraq is faced with various long-running political crises over issues ranging from power-sharing to territorial boundaries that have paralyzed the government.

The country has seen a heightened level of violence since the beginning of the year, coinciding with rising discontent among Iraqi Sunnis that erupted into protests in late December.

Members of Iraq’s Sunni minority, which ruled the country from its establishment after World War I until Saddam Hussein’s overthrow by U.S.-led forces in 2003, accuse the Shiite-led government of marginalizing and targeting their community.

Analysts say government policies that have disenfranchised Sunnis have given militant groups in Iraq both fuel and room to maneuver among the disillusioned community.

The government has made some concessions aimed at placating protesters and Sunnis in general, such as freeing prisoners and raising the salaries of Sunni anti-Al-Qaeda fighters, but underlying issues have yet to be addressed.

Although the violence in Iraq has fallen from its peak at the height of the sectarian conflict in 2006 and 2007, when well over 1,000 people sometimes died per month, the death toll has begun to rise again.

(Source / 28.05.2013)

De man die kruipend naar de moskee ging

By Marianna Laarif

Onderweg naar Dubai stopte ik bij een klein moskeetje om het namiddaggebed te verrichten. Toen ik in mijn auto zat zag ik iets uit de nabijgelegen huizen tevoorschijn komen. Het duurde even voordat ik door had dat het om een man ging die zich kruipend naar de moskee voortbewoog. Om zijn handen had hij plastic sandalen aangetrokken. Op deze wijze baande hij zich met grote inspanning een weg naar de moskee om daar het gezamenlijke namiddaggebed te verrichten. Deze man leek naar alle waarschijnlijkheid verlamd te zijn aan zijn onderlichaam en sleepte dit mee over de harde grond. Het zweet liep over zijn hele lichaam vanwege de grote inspanning die hij moest leveren en de ondragelijke hitte.

Toen hij bij de omheining van de moskee kwam was het alsof hij verdronk in zijn eigen zweet en zijn gezicht was vuurrood. Vele mensen die ook naar het gezamenlijke gebed trokken liepen langs hem. Je kon zien dat zij dit beeld gewoon waren. Ineens kwam een man uit een nabijgelegen winkel met een koude fles drank die hij vervolgens aan de man gaf.
Zij bleven enige ogenblikken met elkaar praten over een bepaald onderwerp. Ik kon horen hoe de winkelier de kruipende man aanbood hem te helpen de moskee te bereiken. Maar tevergeefs, de kruipende man wilde liever op eigen krachten verder. Om niet te laat te komen verontschuldigde hij zichzelf en ging verder. Ik zag hoe hij de trap opging en ik kon mij geen manier bedenken waarop ik hem van dienst kon zijn.

De tranen stroomden over mijn wangen bij het zien van deze man en ik herinnerde mij de overlevering van de Profeet (vrede zij met hem) waarin hij zei: “De zwaarste gebeden voor de hypocrieten zijn het ochtendgebed (salaat-ul Fadjr) en het nachtgebed (salaat-ul cIshaa’). Zouden zij echter weten wat de beloning hiervoor is, dan zouden zij zelfs kruipend komen…”

Deze man die werkelijk kruipend naar de moskee kwam had hier absoluut geen moeite mee. Sterker nog, hij ging naar de moskee alsof het één van Allah’s Tuinen was waar alle gunsten en bekoringen op hem stonden te wachten. Zo zijn er vele dienaren van de Meest Barmhartige die tussen ons leven en een verheven positie genieten bij Allah. Ik vraag Allah om eenieder die zich inspant op Zijn Pad te belonen. En laat de manier waarop deze man zonder enige schaamte naar de moskee kroop een les voor ons zijn en voornamelijk voor diegenen die zich ervoor schamen de moskee te betreden.

Muslims and Buddhists clash in northern Myanmar

Muslims and Buddhists clashed in Myanmar’s northern city of Lashio on Tuesday, witnesses said, as a wave of sectarian violence reached a mountainous region near China’s border.

Phone lines were down in the city of about 131,000 people and the extent of the violence was unclear. Witnesses reported several large fires and said a mosque and Buddhist monastery appear to have been torched.

The violence followed unrest between Muslims and Buddhists in other parts of Myanmar over the past year, including fighting in the central city of Meikhtila in March that killed at least 44 people, mostly Muslims, and razed several Muslim neighborhoods. About 12,000 people lost their homes.

Lashio, capital of Shan State, had been spared from the religious unrest. Known for its strong Chinese influence, it is about 190 km (120 miles) from Muse, a city on China’s border.

Hajji Aung Lwin, a Muslim man from a village on the outskirts of Lashio, said the fighting appeared to have begun after a violent quarrel between a Muslim man and a Buddhist woman who worked at a petrol station.

Several residents said the man doused the woman in fuel and set her on fire. After police detained the man, local Buddhists surrounded the police station and demanded he be handed over, said Aung.

When they refused, the crowd rampaged, setting nearby motorbikes on fire and attacking Myoma Mosque, near Lashio market, residents said. One witness reported seeing flames in the city and a large building on fire.

The government imposed an emergency law known as Section 144 that bans public gatherings, marches and speeches, residents said.

Sectarian clashes between Buddhists and Muslims, who make up about 5 percent of the population in the Buddhist-majority country, have erupted several times since a quasi-civilian government took power in March 2011 after five decades of military dictatorship.

The most serious attacks took place in Rakhine State in the west in June and October last year, when Buddhists fought against Rohingya Muslims, who are denied citizenship by Myanmar and seen by many in the country as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. At least 192 people were killed.

(Source / 28.05.2013)

Data shows that Palestinians now own just 8 per cent of historic Palestine

Colonisation, by Jewish settlers, of confiscated land is attributed to being the cause of this decline

Colonisation, by Jewish settlers, of confiscated land is attributed to being the cause of this decline

New data published by the Lands Research Centre (LRC) shows that Palestinians own only eight per cent of historic Palestine. The LRC is affiliated to the Arabic Studies Association in Jerusalem. In a press conference held in Ramallah, it announced the publication of its latest Year Book, in which it documents Israeli violations of Palestinian rights concerning lands and houses. The book is published in English and Arabic.

LRC director Jamal Al-Emla described 2012 as “the year of settlements”, a reference to the massive increase in settlement expansion by the occupation authorities. He used photographs, charts and maps to demonstrate that the amount of historic Palestine owned by Palestinians has been in decline since the British Mandate era right up to last year. They now own just 8 per cent of their own country. The decline, claimed Al-Emla, is due to Israel’s ethnic cleansing, expulsion of Palestinians and confiscation of their land followed by its colonisation by Jewish settlers.

“The occupation destroyed 189 houses during 2012,” he pointed out. “About 1,215 Palestinian residents, who used to live in those houses, were made homeless.” The Israeli occupation destroyed 415 commercial and agricultural properties, including wells. They also threatened to destroy 772 houses while 590 other facilities under construction, including houses, have been halted.

“The city which is endangered the most is Nablus,” said the LRC director, “followed by occupied Jerusalem.”

The data also showed that the Israeli occupation has destroyed 64,000 trees on Palestinian property, including 53,122 olive trees, which have been uprooted, burnt or drenched in raw sewage.

Fixed Israeli checkpoints in the occupied Palestinian territories numbered 240 by the end of 2012; the statistics exclude those in the old city of Hebron and land occupied in 1948. Forty-six of the checkpoints were installed in 2012.

According to Al-Emla, 14 settler-only roads were built last year to link illegal settlements across the occupied West Bank. Settler aggression against Palestinians included attacks on religious and holy sites. Out of 110 recorded attacks in 2012, claim the LRC, 86 were against mosques and 24 targeted churches.

At the end of his press conference, Al-Emla called for international complaints to be drawn up against Israeli aggression with a call to impose sanctions on Israel. He also suggested the launch of an information campaign to raise awareness about Israel’s illegal and immoral policies and activity.

(Source / 28.05.2013)

Prisoner Ayman Hamdan enters his 2nd month of hunger strike

Palestinian prisoner in the occupation jails Ayman Hamdan, from Bethlehem, in the southern West Bank, enters his 31st day of hunger strike.

Hamdan told the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) lawyer, who visited him at the Ofer detention center, that he has lost sixteen kg of weight and that he suffers from a difficult health condition and needs urgent treatment.

He added that the prison administration has been exercising great pressure against him to thwart his hunger strike.

Captive Hamdan, held in administrative detention since the 22nd of last August, confirmed that he will continue his hunger strike until his release.

Two other prisoners from al-Khalil, held in Ofer prison, joined the open-ended hunger strike organized by a number of prisoners in protest against the administrative detention in the Israeli occupation jails.

(Source / 28.05.2013)

On anniversary, Abbas hails creation of PLO

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday hailed the creation of the Palestine Liberation Organization as the most significant event in Palestinian people’s history.

“(Ahmad) Shuqeiri was asked to figure out what the Palestinians wanted, and he returned with the convention for the PLO,” Abbas said at a meeting to mark the 49th anniversary of the PLO’s founding.

“We should remind ourselves that this is the most important and significant event in the history of the Palestinian people,” the president added.

“Before the PLO we had no political presence but after its creation we did.”

The president also expressed his condolences to the family of Fatah leader Abdul Aziz Shahin, who died in Gaza on Tuesday.

(Source / 28.05.2013)

Haniyeh praises security forces for keeping Gaza safe

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Tuesday praised security forces in the Gaza Strip for keeping the enclave safe.

“We will not allow the occupation and its associates to mess with the safety of Gaza,” Haniyeh said at a graduation ceremony for security forces.

“Gaza is known for Jihad and resistance. This was demonstrated in the last two wars with Israel when the resistance did not allow Israeli forces to enter Gaza and fired at Tel Aviv,” the premier said.

“Gaza has become a model for the chivalry and morality of its men,” he added.

(Source / 28.05.2013)

Passagiers verhinderen de deportatie van Abdellah!!!

En eindelijk kunnen we dan goed nieuws brengen!

De passagiers van vlucht AT 832 van Royal Air Maroc naar Casablanca hebben gezamenlijk de uitzetting van Abdellah vandaag weten tegen te houden!

Toen Abdellah aan boord werd gebracht, heeft hij de passagiers op de hoogte gebracht van zijn situatie. Hij vertelde dat hij niemand heeft in Marokko, de taal niet goed spreekt, dat hij hier in Nederland begeleiding krijgt en die ook hard nodig heeft en dat zijn ouders en zus hier achter zouden blijven. Ook vroeg hij of hij de piloot mocht spreken. In eerste instantie werd dat door een stewardess van RAM tegengehouden, maar toen zijn alle passagiers gaan staan en hebben de piloot duidelijk gezegd dat de deportatie moest stoppen.

Abdellah werd van boord gehaald en mocht op Schiphol heel kort met zijn zus bellen om haar het goede nieuws te vertellen. Het is nog wel onduidelijk waar hij nu heen gaat.

Over het ‘van boord halen’ is het laatste woord nog niet gezegd: meerdere passagiers hebben gezien dat de marechaussee daarbij behoorlijk geweld heeft gebruikt en dat Abdellah’s mond met tape werd afgeplakt, ondanks het uitdrukkelijke verbod op het gebruik van tape. Hoe gaat de marechaussee dit aan de rechter uitleggen? Als ‘zorgvuldig’ en‘conform de procedures’?

Abdellah’s zus wil via deze weg iedereen bedanken die zich op wat voor manier dan ook heeft ingezet om Abdellah’s uitzetting tegen te gaan! En wij? Wij hebben weer een beetje hoop op een betere wereld, dankzij de passagiers van vlucht AT 832 die als één blok opgestaan zijn om voor Abdellah’s rechten op te komen!!!!

(Source / 28.05.2013)

Mass graves of Palestinians discovered


The remains indicate that they were of Palestinians of varied ages 'killed by Zionist gangs' in JaffaThe remains indicate that they were of Palestinians of varied ages ‘killed by Zionist gangs’ in Jaffa

Mass graves have been discovered in the historical cemetery of Al-Kazakhana in Jaffa, Al-Aqsa Foundation for Islamic Endowments and Heritage announced on Monday.

The graves contain the remains of Palestinians killed by Jewish militias in 1948 during the Nakba (Catastrophe). According to the Foundation, they were discovered during routine maintenance and rehabilitation of the cemetery in one of the cities occupied by Israel since 1948.

The Head of the cemetery rehabilitation project, Mohammed al-Ashqar, said that the remains indicate that they were of Palestinians of varied ages “killed by Zionist gangs” in Jaffa. Some of the graves also date back to the Palestinian Uprising of 1936 against British Mandate rule.

(Source / 28.05.2013)

Newspapers Review: Expansion of Settlements Focus of Dailies

RAMALLAH, May 28, 2013 (WAFA) – The main front page story in the Tuesday issue of the three Palestinian Arabic dailies focused on the report that appeared in the Israeli daily Haaretz on Monday which said that the Israeli army expanded the overall area of the illegal settlements in the West Bank by adding 8,000,000 square meters of Palestinian land to them during 2012.

In addition to annexation of land, Israel also demolished homes and structures in the West Bank and gave orders to demolish more structures, said the papers on their front page.

In addition, al-Quds daily said 450 homes in occupied East Jerusalem are awaiting demolition after the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem issued these orders against them on ground they were built without a permit.

It also said that the army intends to open new bypass roads for the settlers at Gush Etzion settlement block, which means expropriation of more Palestinian land.

Al-Ayyam said as well that Israeli settlers occupied two shops in the Muslim Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City under police protection and female soldiers in army uniform and settlers held provocative tours of al-Aqsa Mosque.

The paper reported as well on clashes between Palestinians and settlers in the Nablus area village of Ureef after settlers attempted to vandalize the village. Soldiers intervened in support of the settlers and fired tear gas at the unarmed residents who were trying to protect their homes and children from settlers’ rampage.

Al-Ayyam said also that a mass grave was discovered in Jaffa for Palestinians killed during the 1948 war.

On the political level, the papers reported on the meeting between President Mahmoud Abbas and US Secretary of State John Kerry as well as on the meeting between Kerry and Israel’s chief negotiator Tzipi Livni in Jordan. The papers said the Kerry-Livni meeting was supposed to be secret.

Al-Quds said residents of the Naqab desert protested outside the Israeli parliament against an Israeli plan to displace them from their land.

(Source / 28.05.2013)