Archive for October 11, 2012

Fri Sep 30, 2011

Hundreds of anti-government protesters have poured into the streets in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, demanding the immediate release of political prisoners.

Chanting slogans against the country’s absolute monarchy, demonstrators in the cities of Qatif and Awamiyah on Friday also expressed solidarity with anti-government protesters in neighboring Bahrain and condemned Manama’s violent crackdown on peaceful protesters.

The protests come despite tight security and a strict ban on all anti-government rallies.

Saudi activists say there are more than 30,000 political prisoners, mostly Prisoner of conscience, in jails across the Kingdom.

According to the activists, most of the detained political thinkers are being held by the government without trials or legitimate charges and they were arrested for merely looking suspicious.

Some of the detainees are reported to be held without trial for more than 16 years.

Attempting to incite the public against the government and the allegiance to foreign entities are usually the ready-made charges against political dissidents.

Families of political prisoners have repeatedly pleaded with the ruling monarchy to at least give their loved ones a fair trial. But for years now, the families say, the king has ignored their calls.

Human Rights Watch says more than 160 dissidents have been arrested since February as part of the Saudi government’s crackdown on anti-government protesters.

According to the Saudi-based Human Rights First Society (HRFS), the detainees were subject to both physical and mental torture.

Source: PressTV.


Sat Oct 1, 2011

Pakistanis have staged nationwide rallies to condemn the United States’ threats of unilaterally attacking Pakistan’s tribal belt in an alleged hunt for the militant Haqqani network, Press TV reports.

Activists from religious parties took to streets on Friday, days after Washington claimed Pakistan’s intelligence agency was supporting the Taliban-allied Haqqani network.

“We are not afraid of the US threats, we are ready to protect our country at all costs if the American forces attack us,” one Pakistani protester said.

The US blames the Haqqani network for recent attacks on its embassy in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul.

On September 13, Taliban militants fired rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles at the US embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul in a 19-hour siege of the buildings that led to the death of four civilians and two Afghan policemen.

US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on Thursday that there was growing support in the US Congress for military options against militants in Pakistan beyond the drone strikes Washington has been conducting against pro-Taliban groups in the Asian country.

“We have suffered a lot due to our alliance with the US and its so-called war on terror. Peace can only return to Pakistan once US troops leave the region,” Leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party Ghafoor Haidri said.

Amid escalating tensions, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani brought together leaders of major political groups, including opposition parties, in the All Parties Conference which was held on Thursday as an act of unity in the face of growing US pressures and threats.

“We will not accept any pressure to do more. We will not compromise on our national interests. I hope that all the political leaders and the nation once again get united to protect the country’s sovereignty,” Gillani said.

Source: PressTV.



French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited Tangier on Thursday (September 29th) to join Moroccan King Mohammed VI in laying the foundation stone for Africa’s first high-speed rail line, MAP reported. The Moroccan-French project for the Rabat-Casablanca-Tangier TGV line’s design, construction and maintenance was initiated during Sarkozy’s visit to Morocco in 2007.

The Morocco TGV, which will travel at 350 km/hour, will shorten the travel time between Casablanca and Tangier from over five hours to two hours and ten minutes. It is expected to be fully operational by 2015. It may eventually extend to Marrakech and Agadir.

“The high-speed link will be an asset for the development of the Tangier-Tetouan region, which is becoming a hub for the Union for the Mediterranean (UPM),” French Industry Minister Eric Besson said during the Tangier event.

Source: Magharebia.


Morocco looks to adopt a more active tourism promotion strategy to stave off the impacts of regional turmoil.

By Siham Ali for Magharebia in Rabat – 30/09/11

It has been a tough year for tourism in Morocco. The Arab Spring, the Marrakech bombing, the economic slowdown and the fact that Ramadan coincided with August all took a heavy toll on the sector, Tourism Minister Yasser Znagui said last week.

The sector growth dropped by 6% in the first half of the year compared with the same period last year. Znagui admitted that the growth was weak but added that it was higher than the global average of 4.5%.

Despite a downward trend, Morocco fared better this year than other North African countries. Tunisia witnessed a decrease in tourist arrivals by more than a third, and Egyptian tourism fell by 60%.

“Morocco is the only tourist destination in the region that came away with its head held high in 2011 despite a difficult situation marked in particular by the Arab revolutions,” the tourism minister said on September 21st at Top Resa, France’s biggest tourism fair.

Sociologist Amine Mrabti echoed the sentiment. The Arab world is perceived as a uniform whole by Westerners, he said, and events in one country affect the others on all levels.

Many industry insiders were disappointed with the figures. Ramadan, the beginning of the school year and regional turmoil have impacted tourism, said travel agent Mohamed Charrati.

“A lot of people opted to postpone their travels,” he said. “We’ve coped so far, but we fear the worst. Officials must come up with effective and fast solutions to support us and turn things around.”\

Domestic tourism should be encouraged by means of attractive offers, said economist Moha Zaki, and Morocco’s strategy on advertising in foreign countries should be reconsidered.

The tourism ministry vowed to ramp up its advertising campaign. The focal point will be the country’s diversity, with various aspects to be promoted to potential visitors: the seaside, rural Morocco, ecotourism, mountains, the desert and so on. The campaign will target the traditional markets of Western Europe.

Source: Magharebia.