Archive for January 5, 2015


By AHMED AL-HAJ and SARAH EL DEEB

Associated Press

October 7, 2011

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — She is known among Yemenis as “the iron woman” and the “mother of the revolution.” A conservative woman fighting for change in a conservative Muslim and tribal society, Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkul Karman has been the face of the mass uprising against the authoritarian regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The 32-year-old Karman has been an activist for human rights in Yemen for years, but when she was arrested in January, it helped detonate protests by hundreds of thousands demanding the ouster of Saleh and the creation of a democratic government.

When the Nobel announcement was made Friday, Karman was where she has been nearly every day for the past eight months: in a protest tent in Change Square, the roundabout in central Sanaa that has been the symbolic epicenter of the revolt.

“This prize is not for Tawakkul, it is for the whole Yemeni people, for the martyrs, for the cause of standing up to (Saleh) and his gangs. Every tyrant and dictator is upset by this prize because it confronts injustice,” she told The Associated Press from her tent as she received congratulations from other activists.

Karman — who shares the prize with Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson and Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee — is the first Arab woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. With the award, the Nobel committee gave a nod to the Arab Spring, the wave of uprisings that have swept the Middle East, forcing out the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

In Yemen, millions have been turning out for protests in the capital, Sanaa, and cities around the country since late January. Still, Saleh has determinedly refused to step down.

Karman and the other young activists who have led Yemen’s uprising have created a movement that is unique in this impoverished nation on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, where tribal allegiances run deep, much of the public is religiously conservative and weapons are rife, with guns in nearly every home.

Like the majority of Yemeni women, Karman once wore the niqab, the conservative Muslim garb that covers the face with a veil and hides the body in heavy robes, leaving only the eyes visible. But last year, she changed to a more moderate headscarf, covering just her hair — she told AP she wanted to be “face to face with my activist colleagues.”

She is also a member of Yemen’s opposition Islamic fundamentalist Islah Party, but her participation in the protests brought sharp criticism from conservatives in the party, some of whom denounced her in mosque sermons. Saleh’s regime itself tried to discredit her by spreading a photo of her sitting in a protest tent with a male colleague — with others around them cut out from the picture — seeking to taint her as sinful for being alone with a man.

Women have participated heavily in the protests. The organizers have intentionally sought to cut across tribal lines. And they have resolutely remained peaceful, even as Yemen seems to explode around them. Saleh’s security forces have repeatedly opened fire on protesters. Sanaa and other cities have turned into war zones as regime forces battle with dissident military units and tribal fighters opposed to Saleh.

Regime snipers shot at protesters in Change Square on Friday, killing one and wounding four others, according to a security official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press. Government forces also bombarded Sanaa’s Hassaba district, a center for anti-government tribesmen, and fired on the home of the tribesmen’s leader, Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar, one of Saleh’s top rivals.

President Saleh drew the ire of female protesters in April when he scolded them for participating in the rallies and told them that mingling with men was forbidden under Sharia, or Islamic law.

Nevertheless, his party, the General People’s Congress, welcomed Karman’s Nobel win — and even sought to claim some credit for it by saying that under Saleh’s rule, women in Yemen have been able to “confront backwardness and colonialism.”

Saleh’s crackdown on protesters has killed at least 225 people, according to Human Rights Watch. Still, the demonstrators have largely shunned the use of violence in response.

“Neither Ali nor his gangs will drag Yemen toward war and infighting,” Karman told the AP. “We chose peace, we could have resorted to violence in this revolution and we could have settled it in days and not months by resorting to our weapons. … But we chose peace and only peace.”

“Don’t worry about Yemen. Yemen started in peace and it will end its revolution in peace, and it will start its new civil state with peace,” she said.

Her husband, Mohammed al-Nahmi, sitting with her in the tent as he received congratulations, told AP, “This is a prize she deserves. Before she is my wife, she is a colleague, and a companion in the struggle.”

Karman, a mother of three, originally hails from the southern city of Taiz, a city known for its prominent middle class and university intellectuals that has long been a hotbed of opposition to Saleh. Her father, Abdul-Salam Karman, was once the legal affairs minister under Saleh, but resigned to protest government corruption.

Karman had organized protests and sit-ins as early as 2007, referring to her regular gatherings outside government offices in Sanaa as the “Freedom square.” She campaigned for greater rights for women and an end to harassment of journalists, heading Women Journalists without Chains, an organization advocating for press freedoms.

In December 2010, the uprising erupted in Tunisia after a local fruit vendor in the North African nation, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire.

In Yemen, Karman led protests in support of the Tunisians, sending out mobile phone texts to urge people to join. The small protests, comprising no more than 200 people, were broken up with water cannons and batons.

On Jan. 23, authorities arrested Karman.

The move was meant as a warning to her, but it backfired, sending a wave of women protesters into the streets of Sanaa and other cities, a rare sight in Yemen. Karman was released early the next day and by the afternoon she was leading another protest.

She and other organizers were further inspired by Egypt, where protesters seized control of Cairo’s central Tahrir Square demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

Days after Mubarak stepped down in February, Yemeni protesters, with Karman and other male protest organizers at the helm, seized a major intersection in the heart of Sanaa, which then came to be known as Change Square. Karman has been part of a council grouping the disparate protest groups and an organization representing the youth of revolution.

El Deeb reported from Cairo.

04 January 2015 Sunday

Sudan’s parliament on Sunday approved new amendments to the constitution to allow the president to appoint and sack the governors of Sudan’s 18 states.

Before the amendments were approved, state governors used to be directly elected by the public in their respective states.

The opposition Popular Congress Party boycotted the parliament session on Sunday, which opened the door for the members of the ruling National Congress Party, which controls 90 percent of the 450 seats of parliament, to easily pass the amendments.

Mahdi Ibrahim, a leading member of the ruling party, said the new amendments aimed to solve tribal problems in Sudan’s 18 states.

The Sudanese presidency introduced the amendments to parliament for approval in November of last year.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/todays-news/152217/sudan-parliament-approves-constitutional-amendments.

2015-01-04

MOGADISHU – A huge car bomb blast shook Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Sunday after a suicide bomber struck an area close to the heavily-fortified international airport, killing four people, officials said.

A Somalia police official said the car bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into another car, setting off a huge blast that was heard across the coastal city.

The sprawling airport area is a major base for members of Somalia’s armed forces, houses several foreign embassies and African Union troops battling Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab militants.

It has been a frequent target of attacks by the Shebab, most recently in late December when the Shebab launched a major assault against an African Union command center.

“We had information about this car laden with explosives and we have been following it… but it detonated and four civilians were killed, and the bomber,” interior ministry spokesman Mohamed Yusuf told reporters.

Witnesses said they saw clouds of smoke after the explosion, and that security forces opened fire to disperse approaching onlookers.

Several witnesses also said they saw up to five destroyed vehicles in the vicinity of the explosion.

“There was a terrible explosion. The security forces have cordoned off the area. They opened fire to disperse people nearby,” said Ali Suleyman, a witness.

The latest attack came at the end of a week which saw the United States conduct another air strike against the Isl.

The Somali government said the Shebab’s intelligence chief, Abdishakur Tahlil, was killed in Monday night’s raid.

The Shebab’s former leader Ahmed Abdi Godane was also killed by a US air strike in September.

The Shebab emerged from the Islamic Courts Union that controlled Mogadishu in 2006 before being pushed out by Ethiopian forces.

The militants were finally driven from their fixed positions in Mogadishu in 2011, and have lost several strongholds in the south and center of the country in a recent offensive by the AU’s AMISOM force.

The group, however, still controls vast rural areas from where militants launch regular attacks against the AU’s AMISOM troops and the country’s internationally-backed government.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=69536.

Baghdad (AFP)

Oct 6, 2011

Iraq offered its experience of rebuilding the country and gearing up for democracy during a visit to Baghdad Thursday by Libya’s interim premier Mahmud Jibril, officials said.

Jibril’s visit was his first since a mid-February revolt in Libya that eventually led to strongman Moamer Kadhafi’s overthrow, and he met with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

“Prime Minister Maliki offered the experience of Iraq in rebuilding the state, writing a constitution and holding elections,” Maliki’s media advisor Ali Mussawi told AFP.

“The two sides found similarities between the two regimes of Saddam and Kadhafi,” he added, referring to now-executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who was ousted by a 2003 US-led invasion.

Mussawi added that Jibril invited Maliki to visit Libya, with the Iraqi premier responding that he would do so as soon as possible.

Eight years after the invasion, Iraq remains a struggling democracy that is still one of the most violent countries in the world, despite a dramatic decline in the level of attacks since a brutal insurgency and sectarian war left tens of thousands dead between 2006 and 2008.

Deputy Foreign Minister Labid Abawi said earlier that Jibril had been received by Zebari before meeting with Maliki.

“It was just a short visit, a preliminary visit, to express his gratitude for Iraqi support,” Abawi told AFP.

“We discussed the future relationship between Libya and Iraq, and we discussed the possibility of an exchange of high-level delegations between our two countries.”

Last month, Zebari said the uprising in Libya and those in other Arab countries had been inspired by Iraq’s example.

“We’ve been approached by the Libyans, by the Tunisians, by the Egyptians to see how we did it,” Zebari said on September 20 while speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Source: Space War.

Link: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Iraq_offers_experience_to_Libya_as_Jibril_visits_999.html.

04 January 2015 Sunday

Egypt’s April 6 youth movement has called on all parties that participated in the 2011 uprising which toppled long-serving president Hosni Mubarak to “rise above partisan interests and unite behind the goals of the revolution.”

In a statement, the youth movement said it launches an initiative based on five points; a community participation charter, a code of ethics for media, inclusive justice, defining the relation between the state and society and the formation of a salvation government, according to April 6 Coordinator General Amr Ali.

Ali urged all those who “participated in the revolution and believed in its objectives to unite once again in order to achieve the dream [of the revolution], now that everyone realizes that the situation is worse than it was before the [2011] revolution.”

“Tens of thousands of detainees from all political affiliations are unjustly imprisoned; they are the ones leading the revolutionary movement, after they were brought together by the injustice, killing, torture and arrests, irrespective of their ideological differences.”

Mainly made up of young political activists, April 6 had been one of the groups that spearheaded Egypt’s January 2011 revolution, which ended autocratic president Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

It had also opposed ousted president Mohamed Morsi, whose rule came to an end last year when the army overthrew him following mass protests.

Movement founder Ahmed Maher is currently serving a three-year jail term for staging an unlicensed protest in November of 2013.

Egypt’s Interior Ministry maintains that its prisons are free of political detainees, and that political figures arrested following Morsi’s ouster in 2013 are imprisoned on criminal charges.

Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, a leading Islamist group in Egypt and one of Morsi’s backers, welcomed the initiative proposed by the April 6 movement.

“We affirm that the counter-revolution is still worried about the revolutionary spirit and harmony,” Tarek al-Zomor, who heads the Building and Development Party – al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya’s political wing – said on Facebook.

“We highly value April 6 group’s initiative…And we call all sides to act responsibly so that we can retrieve the usurped revolution and the rights of our people,” al-Zomor added.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/todays-news/152196/egypts-april-6-urges-revolutionary-forces-to-unite.

01 January 2015 Thursday

The United Islamic Assembly organised a Quran recital at the Cekrekci Muslihudin Mosque and great interest was shown by the Sarajevo Muslim community.

The mosque muezzin Bilal Efendic said that each year a Quran recital night was organised for the last night of the year and that the youth came together at the mosque in celebration of this. Efendic said that during the event 30 youths who are hafiz – those who have committed the entire Quran to memory – read from the Quran until late night. Many hymns were also sung as part of the event.

Organised each year, the program opened with a ceremony at the Bascarsi Mosque. Mevlud programs, where hymns and poetry are recited in honor of the Prophet Muhammad, book launches and Islamic song concerts are also part of the program, which will continue until the 23rd January.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/news/152050/bosnian-muslims-in-sarejevo-enter-2015-with-quran-recitals.

04 January 2015 Sunday

Two Turkish NGOs have provided winter aid to a large number of displaced Syrians living in Lebanon’s eastern province of Beqaa, an area that is known for its harsh weather conditions in the winter.

A delegation from the two NGOs – Sadakatası Dernegi and the Association of Lebanese and Turkish Youth – has visited several villages in Beqaa to check on the conditions of displaced Syrians amid extremely low weather temperatures and strong storms.

The delegation distributed “winter aid” to dozens of displaced Syrian and Turkmen families in the village of Durres, including blankets, shoes, clothes and fuel to be used for heating purposes.

“This is the first phase of winter aid for our Syrian brothers who are displaced in Lebanon,” Sadakatası Dernegi head Kemal Ozdal told The Anadolu Agency.

“It is part of a major Turkish campaign to provide relief for Syrians, both the internally displaced and the refugees in neighboring countries,” Ozdal said.

“Our visit to Beqaa and distribution of aid on Syrian families is part of a campaign that included other Lebanese regions.”

Head of Association of Lebanese and Turkish Youth Zeina al-Emari, for her part, told AA that “children are the most needy when it comes to aid, since the biting cold can cause serious damage to their health.”

“Our goals are purely humanitarian, away from any political leaning here or there,” al-Emari said, urging other NGOs to “provide more aid in this critical time, as living conditions of the refugees in Beqaa are severe and tragic.”

The number of displaced Syrians in Lebanon has exceeded 1.2 million, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/todays-news/152206/turkish-ngos-provide-winter-aid-to-syrians-in-lebanon.

30 December 2014 Tuesday

An underground city has been discovered during the urban transformation works near Nevsehir Castle in central Turkey, and is reported to be one of the biggest of its kind in the world…

The urban renewal works near Nevsehir Castle in Nevsehir province in central Turkey have revealed one of the biggest underground cities in the world. The historical city was come across at a 110-mt-level, and is reported to be situated on a 785k-mt square land. The underground city is set to be completely brought out to light and opened for visits following a restoration works.

The discovery took place in popular tourist destination of Cappadocia Area, which already draws around 2.5 million tourists per year from around the world.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/news/151858/worlds-one-of-biggest-underground-cities-found-in-turkeys-nevsehir.

10 December 2014 Wednesday

Turkey’s National Foundations General Manager Adnan Ertem said that some mosques and prayer centers that were sold in 1935 will be restored and re-opened for congregational prayer.

Ertem said that the amount of restorations that have occurred in the country in the past 12 years cannot be compared to any other time in recent history. Restoring buildings that were on the verge of extinction, Ertem said, “Three mosques in Izmir have been closed for years. Kumrulu mosque, Seyh Bedri Efendi Tomb and Mosque, and the Baladur mosque. These have been closed for years for various reasons, with many of them in ruins through neglect, and have been languished. One of them was closed because it was in a landslide or disaster area, yet this wasn’t the case.

Ertem pointed out that some mosques in Istanbul were restored. He pointed out the example of “Kazasker Abdurrahman Mosque, which had a cafeteria built over it, that cafeteria has been now closed and the mosque has now been restored”.

Ertem also highlighted a law that was brought about in 1935 that stated that mosques within 500 metres of another mosque being closed down. “A law stated that if a mosque that was active had another mosque that was close to it, it would be shut down. I’m not saying that was the clear law. However the Sehzadebasi Mosque in Fatih had another mosque 500 metres within its vicinty and it was closed down”.

In regard to sales of mosques, he stated that both in Kilis and Ardahan that mosques had been sold are now under government control as well as the Tavukcu Prayer Hall and Zafran Mosque in Bursa. These in fact were used as private residences. The government has bought them back and have now restored them”.

With the aim of acting in accordance with the foundation, Ertem said, “The property has been entrusted to us by the foundation, and it is our duty to keep these alive as much as our opportunities to us allow. There are many examples of mosques that are not owned by the government and we are in the process of doing that”.

Since 2002 almost 4,000 different buildings have been restored including public baths, tombs, hostels, mosques, Ertem said that, “Almost 100 mosques have been reopened due to the reconstruction work”.

Ertem said that the opening of the Hagia Sophia Mosque in 2011 in Iznik after restoration efforts were damaged in a fire in the 1920’s. It is now opened for prayer services after being a museum for many years. The Hagia Sophia mosque in Trabzon has also been opened for prayer services after being closed for 50 years and it is still undergoing renovations.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/haber/150359/turkey-buys-back-and-restores-its-mosques.

04 January 2015 Sunday

Rebel fighters seized a suburb east of Damascus on Sunday after driving out a smaller rival insurgent group in deadly clashes, a monitoring group said, the latest example of rebel infighting in Syria’s nearly four-year conflict.

Fighters from the Army of Islam clashed with members of the Army of the Nation group in Douma, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Both groups include Sunni Muslim fighters opposed to President Bashar al-Assad’s government, and the fighting is seen as more of a turf war than a conflict over ideology.

The Observatory, which gathers information from a network of sources in Syria, said several fighters were killed, without giving details. It added that the Army of Islam had detained many of its rival combatants.

The groups, part of a myriad of opposition factions in the war, have both fought the Syrian army as well as battling each other for control of Douma, a strategic suburb on one of the main roads linking the capital with Homs city further north.

The Army of Islam is powerful in the area and it clashed with armed residents in Douma in November after locals attacked the storehouses of an organisation close to the group, according to the Observatory.

Infighting has weakened groups battling pro-government forces. The majority of the rivalry has been in the north of the country and such confrontations in the south, were Damascus is situated, have been relatively rare.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/todays-news/152203/army-of-islam-seizes-damascus-suburb-from-rivals-monitor.