Archive for June 16, 2012

September 8, 2011

ANKARA, (PIC)– The Turkish Red Crescent (TRC) announced plans to overhaul the water pipeline network in the Gaza Strip, which suffers acute shortage in potable and irrigation water due to the ongoing five-year Israeli blockade.

The organization said in a statement on Wednesday that repair works would focus on eight sites that were badly damaged in the 2008 Israeli war on the Strip, adding that on completion 400000 Palestinian would benefit from it.

The TRC has been working for the past two years in Gaza in a bid to solve the water crisis and had recently finished modernizing water tanks in many areas in the Strip allowing 50000 citizens to enjoy anew clean running water.

Source: Occupied Palestine WordPress News Blog.

September 6, 2011

Archeological evidence that an ancient society was domesticating animals including horses 9,000 years ago, 4,000 years earlier than previously thought, has been unearthed at Al-Maqar in central Saudi Arabia.

Named the Al-Maqar civilization, around 80 artifacts have been collected from the site, including mummified skeletons, spinning and weaving tools, and statues of animals such as ostriches, falcons, and a one-meter-tall bust of a horse. A horse burial has also been discovered.

Ali al-Ghabban, vice president of Antiquities and Museums at the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA), said these findings challenge the theory that animal domestication took place 5,500 years ago, which is based on previous excavations in Central Asia.

“A statue of an animal of this dimension, dating back to that time, has never been found anywhere in the world,” Ghabban said, according to the Saudi Gazette.

The remains were found in a valley that was formerly a riverbed, close to Abha, in southwestern Asir province near the Yemen border, an area once known as Arabia Felix.

“The antiquities proved that Al-Maqar was the oldest place in the world so far with people interested in horses,” an official statement said, adding that the artifacts also showed the cultural activities of people in the region during the Stone Age.

Ghabban said these people used “methods of embalming that are totally different from known processes,” the Gazette reported.

“This discovery will change our knowledge concerning the domestication of horses and the evolution of culture in the late Neolithic period,” he said.

“The Maqar Civilization is a very advanced civilization of the Neolithic period,” he added. “This site shows us clearly, the roots of the domestication of horses 9,000 years ago.”

Ghabban said DNA tests and carbon dating had confirmed the age of the excavated artifacts.

An international team of archeologists published an article in Science in January suggesting humans may have been present on the Arabian Peninsula as long as 125,000 years ago.

Source: The Epoch Times.

Tunisia’s transitional government will ward off any attempts to disrupt public order, Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi vowed.

By Monia Ghanmi for Magharebia in Tunis – 07/09/11

Tunisian police are now banned from joining unions “given the danger that such activity represents for the security of the country”, Interim Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi announced on Tuesday (September 6th).

“Many dangerous things happened in this country and that concerns all its citizens,” he said. Caid Essebsi announced a host of measures to restore security following recent clashes that left at least two people dead in the southwest and spurred a curfew on Sbeïtla.

The caretaker prime minister added the transitional government would “strictly” apply the state of emergency and prohibit “all demonstrations, all strikes and all meetings that could affect the security of the country”. He authorized the interim prime minister to “place under house arrest any person known for activities affecting internal security”.

The announcement came amid renewed riots in the Tunis Kasbah. Scores of angry security servicemen protested accusations that they killed protestors during the January 14th revolution. Twenty-three officers have been arrested on charges of killing demonstrators.

Police pressed for the dismissal of Interior Minister Habib Essid, Public Security Director Taoufik Dimassi and National Security Director Nabil Abid. The demonstrators also called for adopting a legal framework that would guarantee the protection of security agents. Several security centers were set alight last week, causing the union of internal security forces to call for a strike on Monday.

The speech caused resentment among police officers, who continued their protests.

“This was a very harsh speech that has greatly offended the entire security community,” Habib Jlassi, secretary-general of the special anti-terrorist brigade. “We didn’t expect that the number one official in government would describe us as monkeys. Therefore, we will continue our protests to demand the prime minister to apologize and to defend our rights and dignity.”

On the subject of political transition, Caid Essebsi reiterated the government’s obligation to safeguard the revolution.

“The revolution doesn’t mean chaos,” he said. “It is the government that is defending the revolution, while the rest are trying to take advantage of it, but we won’t allow them to do so.”

“The elections will take place on October 23,” the prime minister added. “Our aim is to ensure that a transparent and free poll takes place for the first time in this country.”

Caid Essebsi evoked the possibility of holding a referendum to specify the tasks and powers of the constituent assembly.

The idea must “be discussed in the cabinet, and the president of state is the one who can take such a decision”, he said. “However, I don’t exclude this step; it’s possible, but we have to consult with all parties.”

While some political parties, including the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), support the idea, others dismiss it as an attempt to circumvent the revolution.

The Constituent Assembly, which will be democratically elected, will be a sovereign entity and will appoint the executive power, said Communist Labor Party chief Hamma Hammami. Therefore, the idea of organizing a referendum simultaneously with the October 23rd vote is unreasonable, he added.

Source: Magharebia.

Moroccan young people struggle to find a balance between their religious convictions and modern practices.

By Siham Ali for Magharebia in Rabat – 07/09/11

Moroccan authorities need to re-visit the way religious knowledge is presented to young people to nurture a better understanding of faith, a recent study concluded.

Moroccan youths lack religious knowledge and have limited confidence in state religious institutions, according to the survey carried out by the Moroccan Center for Contemporary Studies and Research (CMERC).

To reach the conclusion, the center conducted two surveys among young people aged 15 to 35 in twelve regions.

The problem lies in the way religious knowledge is passed on to young people to enable them to live out their faith in total harmony with their beliefs and behavior, said CMERC chief Mustapha El Khalfi. He added that violence was not apparent in young people’s conduct.

Few of the people interviewed were able to identify the rites adopted by the kingdom or remembered the name of the Minister of Habous and Islamic Affairs. Young people do not join religious movements and associations, which shows a lack of communication with youths, according to the study.

The mosque and the family constitute the main sources of religious education for young people, with television and the internet used as a last resort. Over 40% of the respondents said that they derived their knowledge from imams, while 23% learn from families.

A broad national dialogue is required to discuss the nature of public youth policy, Khalfi said.

The state and religious scholars need to re-think what they say and adapt to the needs of the current age, argued Mohamed Chantoufi, a teacher of Islamic education.

“We need to ban the traditional methods and be innovative in our communication,” he added.

Among the new methods are appealing television programs with new faces to lure people instead of satellite channels, which often send fundamentalist messages, the scholar added.

According to the survey, Moroccan youths have a particular interest in Middle Eastern preachers.

Egyptian Mohamed Hassan tops the list, followed by Amr Khalid and Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

Given the conservative nature of Moroccan society, religion still has a social role to play, and a great many young people live a life of contradiction between their concept of religion and their daily behavior, explained sociologist Samira Kassimi.

“I know a lot of young people who don’t pray, but who are convinced that it’s their duty and they hope that one day they’ll have the faith to do it regularly,” young teacher Saad Moutaraji told Magharebia. “Many others do it, but at the same time they remain completely open and tolerant.”

Source: Magharebia.

Sept. 6, 2011

MOGADISHU, Somalia, Sept. 6 (UPI) — An agreement signed between rival leaders in Somalia could pave the way to the end of transitional rule there, a U.N. special envoy said.

Somalia, in the grips of drought and famine plaguing much of the Horn of Africa, hasn’t had a functioning central government since the 1990s. The transitional government, meanwhile, had controlled only a tiny portion of the capital Mogadishu before militants with al-Qaida’s affiliate al-Shabaab pulled out recently.

Augustine Mahiga, the U.N. special envoy to Somalia, said a deal signed between leaders in the Somali states of Galmudug and Puntland paved the way to a unified Somalia.

“Puntland and Galmudug are on Somalia’s front lines in the ongoing fight against violent extremists that increasingly are relying on terror tactics to try and disrupt the peace process,” he said in a statement.

At least 30 people were killed last week when forces from the two self-proclaimed autonomous regions clashed near the border town of Galkayo.

Somalia is in the grip of a cholera outbreak, which complicates humanitarian efforts to deal with widespread famine in the country.

Al-Shabaab is said to be intercepting aid deliveries in the country despite pulling back from Mogadishu.

A drought gripping most of the Horn of Africa is expected to linger for much of the year.

Source: United Press International (UPI).