Archive for July 6, 2012

Sept. 13, 2011

JAKARTA, Sept. 13 (UPI) — Police in Ambon, Indonesia, will pursue anyone they suspect of involvement in violence between Christian and Muslim groups that left six people dead and around 80 injured.

Inter-ethnic violence erupted in Ambon, capital of Indonesia’s Maluku province — also known as the Moluccan Islands — during the funeral of Muslim man killed in a road accident.

Rioting broke out Sunday after rumors surfaced that the motorcycle taxi driver had been tortured to death by Christians.

“We will enforce the law,” National Police spokesman Inspector General Anton Bachrul Alam said. “We are currently focusing on pacifying the situation. The investigation is still under way.”

Police were helped by several hundred troops to quell street fighting after cellphone text messages circulated to Muslims that the driver had been set upon by Christians, the BBC said.

Police said the man died on the way to hospital after losing control of his motorbike and crashing.

Ethnic relations are uneasy in Maluku, formerly known as the Spice Islands and which is culturally and geographically associated with the more Christian Melanesia. Maluku is around 55 percent Muslim and 45 percent Christian.

Tensions periodically erupt into deadly street fighting, especially since the 1980 after the federal government in Jakarta relocated many Muslim migrants from the more densely populated Java Island.

The main city and capital of Maluku province is Ambon on the small Ambon Island and with a population of around 330,000, 2010 census data indicate.

Ambon also is home to the state-owned Pattimura University and the Indonesian Christian University of Maluku, a private Protestant university. Both were seriously damaged during ethnic violence in 1999-2002.

The Arabs first brought Islam to the Spice Islands in the 13th century; the Spanish and Portuguese arrived in the 16th century bringing Christianity followed in the 17th century by the Dutch.

Ambon Island was the site of a major Dutch naval base, captured by the Japanese in 1942. In 1950, after Indonesian independence in 1945, Ambon was the center of an uprising against Indonesian rule.

Rebel groups proclaimed the Republic of the South Moluccas but Indonesia reasserted control within weeks, although a low-key armed struggle existed until 1963, especially on the island of Seram.

A self-declared Republic of South Moluccas government-in-exile has existed since the 1950 defeat, based in the Netherlands.

In April last year, Radio Netherlands Worldwide said that John Wattilete, a Dutch lawyer and son of Moluccan immigrants, had been appointed the new president of the South Moluccan government in exile. His appointment took place in the village of Bemmel in the Netherlands province of Gelderland.

Conflicts between Christians and Muslims from 1999-2002 left more than 5,000 dead and half a million people displaced — the worst ethnic violence since Indonesia’s independence from its colonial ruler, the Netherlands, in 1945.

Source: United Press International (UPI).

Sept. 14, 2011

CAIRO, Sept. 14 (UPI) — The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt announced that candidates for its political party were gearing up for upcoming parliamentary elections.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is expected to announce a date for opening nominations for parliamentary elections by the end of September. SCAF said it was having separate elections for each house to allow for proper judicial oversight.

Mokhtar Ali, a former member of the Egyptian Parliament with the Muslim Brotherhood, said the Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, was gearing up for election season.

“We will start campaigning in the coming few weeks,” he was quoted by Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm as saying.

Ali’s statements followed a closed-door political conference organized by the Freedom and Justice Party. The group said following the conference it was becoming frustrated with SCAF’s policies, notably a decision to return to emergency laws in the country.

Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said Washington had concerns about SCAF’s commitments to the rule of law.

“As such, we have encouraged the transitional government to lift the state of emergency immediately,” she said.

SCAF is facing mounting pressure because of the perception it isn’t moving fast enough with post-revolutionary reforms.

Source: United Press International (UPI).


Wednesday 14 September 2011

AMMAN, Jordan: Jordan’s foreign minister says his country supports a Palestinian drive for recognition at the UN but prefers negotiations toward creation of a Palestinian state.

Palestinians are appealing to the world body for recognition because peace talks with Israel are frozen.

Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh told reporters Wednesday that Jordan supports the Palestinian campaign, but it should take into account the rights of Palestinian refugees, the fate of Jerusalem and the borders of a future Palestinian state.

He said the “best way” to attain statehood is through “direct negotiations.”

Jordan hosts nearly 2 million Palestinian refugees, slightly more than in the West Bank and Gaza. It is also the custodian of Muslim and Christian holy shrines in Jerusalem.

A future Palestinian state would border on Israel, Egypt and Jordan.

Source: Arab News.

Tue Sep 13, 2011

The Criminal Court of Cairo has ordered Egyptian media not to report witnesses’ testimonies over the controversial gas deal between Egypt and Israel.

The court on Monday resumed the trial of several officials for exporting gas to Israel under market prices.

The defendants in the case included Egypt’s former Energy Minister Sameh Fahmy, fugitive Egyptian businessman Hussein Salem, and five other executives of the Egyptian General Petroleum Authority.

The defendants are accused of “exporting gas to Israel at a price lower than international market prices, harming public finances.” The deal allegedly incurred losses worth over USD 714 million to Egypt.

The new Egyptian government has been reviewing deals signed during ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak’s rule.

Israel gets 40 percent of its natural gas from Egypt, under an arrangement put in place after a 1979 US-pushed peace treaty. Four Israeli firms have signed agreements to import Egyptian natural gas.

Egypt’s gas export to Israel was halted after a series of explosions north of Eilat following the Egyptian revolution in February.

The deal has been repeatedly challenged in Egyptian courts as it was signed without a parliamentary consultation and approval.

Opposition groups have long complained that Egyptian gas was sold to Israel at below-market prices.

Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, but the situation has drastically changed since the Egyptian revolution which toppled former dictator Hosni Mubarak. A number of Egyptian political parties are now calling for changes to the peace treaty.

Source: PressTV.

Wed Sep 14, 2011

Egyptian political parties condemn a decision by the ruling military council for enforcing the emergency law, demanding the release of the protesters detained by the army outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo, Press TV reports.

“Three people were killed, many injured and others were detained instead of expelling the (Israeli) ambassador and suspending ties with Israel. This SCAF action is totally unacceptable,” Rasha Azah from “No to Military Trails Campaign” told Press TV.

The decision by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to revive the emergency law has sparked criticism from most political groups from liberals to Islamists.

“This is very dangerous and indicated that the police officers like before to have more authority against citizens,” said human rights activist Manal Khaled.

During a press conference in the Egyptian capital Cairo on Tuesday, the guest speakers stressed that the protesters were outraged after the Egyptian authorities built a separation barrier around the Israeli embassy while they did not show any attempt to protest the recent killing of the six Egyptian soldiers in an Israeli attack near the border.

“We condemn the silence of the SCAF to the Israeli attacks on our borders, not to mention the efforts made by the SCAF to hold on to ties with Israel,” said Mohamed Attia from Democratic Front Party.

They also said the new amendments to the emergency law are illegal because they should be applied only in cases of natural disasters, war and epidemics.

“Such no articles can simply be used against freedom of expression that the people were deprived of during the reign of (ousted former Egyptian president Hosni) Mubarak,” said Khaled.

A key demand of the revolutionaries after the January 25 revolution has been the immediate lifting of the state of emergency that has been in place in Egypt since 1981.

The Egyptian protesters stormed into the Israeli embassy in Cairo on Friday, destroying a part of a barricade wall around the building. The Israeli ambassador to Egypt, Yitzhak Levanon, flew from the capital a few hours after the event.

Three people were killed and several others injured in overnight clashes with the police outside the embassy.

Egyptians remain angry at the ruling military council for ignoring popular demands to expel the Israeli ambassador from Egypt.

Source: PressTV.

Wed Sep 14, 2011

Somalia’s anti-government al-Shabab group has denied any involvement in the abduction of a British woman from a luxury beach resort in Kenya, Press TV reports.

A senior al-Shabab official in Kismayo, 200 km (120 miles) north of the Kenyan border, told Press TV on Wednesday that the Briton, 56-year-old Judith Tebbutt, had been brought to the Somali port city. He also dismissed reports that al-Shabab had any links with her kidnapping.

“We have credible information that the (British) woman is held in Kismayo but we are not responsible,” the al-Shabab official said on condition of anonymity.

“Hopefully we will find out who is responsible and issue official statement on the matter,” he added.

Unidentified gunmen raided the remote Kiwayu Safari Village, Kenya, in the early hours of Sunday, shooting dead publishing executive David Tebbutt, 58, and taking hostage his wife Judith before escaping by boat.

British Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament on Wednesday that he had chaired a crisis meeting on the kidnapping.

“We are doing everything we possibly can on this desperately tragic case,” he said on Wednesday.

“The Foreign Secretary (William Hague) has met with the family today. I think on some of these cases it is not right to air all of these issues in public but I can reassure … the Tebbutt family (that) we will do everything possible to help, ” Cameron added.

Concern has been growing for Judith Tebbutt, who is believed to be deaf and wear a double hearing aid.

Police in Kenya say they have arrested a man suspected of aiding the gunmen. He is believed to have information about the person, who organized the kidnapping.

Source: PressTV.

Wed Sep 14, 2011

Egypt’s largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, has criticized Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call on Egyptians to adopt a secular constitution.

Mahmoud Ghuzlan, the spokesman of the Muslim Brotherhood, considered Erdogan’s comments as interference in Egypt’s local affairs. He stated that the experiments of other countries should not be cloned, the Dubai-based Al Arabiya news network reported on Wednesday.

“Turkey’s conditions imposed on it to deal with the secular concept,” a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood said.

“A secular state respects all religions. Do not be wary of secularism. I hope there will be a secular state in Egypt,” Erdogan said in an interview with an Egyptian private satellite TV channel prior to his visit to Egypt.

He stressed that people have the right to choose whether or not to be religious, adding that he is a Muslim prime minister for a secular state.

It is generally believed that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has geared up for the November election in which its newly formed Freedom and Justice Party is looking forward to win half of the parliamentary seats.

The Brotherhood endured years of repression until Hosni Mubarak was ousted by a popular revolution in February after 30 years of autocratic rule.

Founded in 1928, the group has maintained strong support in Egypt’s Muslim society although it has been officially illegal since 1954.

Under the US-backed Mubarak regime, independent Muslim Brotherhood candidates won nearly one-fifth of Egypt’s parliamentary seats in the 2005 general elections.

Source: PressTV.

July 05, 2012

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The bodies of two Turkish pilots were recovered from the seabed on Thursday after U.S. ocean explorer Robert Ballard, best known for discovering the wreck of the Titanic, helped locate them nearly two weeks after their jet was shot down by Syria.

A Turkish official said Ballard, aboard his deep-sea exploration vessel R/V Nautilus, found the bodies Wednesday 8.6 nautical miles off the Syrian coast after the Turkish navy had pinpointed the area. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

Turkey’s military said in a statement on its website that the bodies were taken to the base in the southern city of Malatya where their plane had originally taken off. It did not say how and by whom the bodies were recovered. A funeral ceremony was scheduled for Friday.

The military said the R/V Nautilus is continuing to search for more pieces of the plane’s wreckage. Syrian forces shot down the RF-4 plane June 22. Turkey says it was hit in international airspace, but Syria insists it was flying low inside Syrian airspace.

Syria did not offer an apology for the downing of the jet which further strained ties between the two neighbors. Turkey quickly deployed anti-aircraft missiles on the border and threatened to target Syrian military elements if they approach. It also had its jets scrambled several times over the past week when Syrian helicopters came close.

Ballard led the international team that discovered the RMS Titanic in 1985, and also found the wrecks of the battleship Bismarck and the World War II PT-109 torpedo patrol boat that John F. Kennedy commanded.

Turkey has long been calling on Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down and order his forces to stop targeting civilians. More than 35,000 Syrians, including many Syrian officers, have fled to Turkey.