Contains selective news articles I select

Archive for February, 2011

Egypt’s imams protest junta’s dictates

Mon Feb 28, 2011

 

 

Thousands of imams have staged a demonstration in Egypt against what they call state security agencies’ excessive interventions.

 

 

The protesters gathered in front of the offices of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces on Sunday, saying they have been dictated by the ruling junta about what to preach during Friday Prayers’ sermons.

 

 

The demonstrators also said they would submit a list of demands to the military council, stating that the popular revolution must give them the power to speak freely.

 

 

The regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak used to dictate Friday Prayers’ sermons as well. It used mosques to dissuade citizens from taking part in anti-government protests.

 

 

Indignation has been mounting at the army since it took power after eighteen days of pro-democracy demonstrations led to the overthrow of Mubarak’s three-decade despotic rule on February 11.

 

 

Egyptians, fearing their revolution will be hijacked by those who have served Mubarak’s regime, have been constantly demanding that the military hand over power to a civilian government elected by the people.

 

 

In response to people’s growing protests, the army was forced to form a new constitution to reform some of the basic rules that have been in place for thirty years.

 

 

The ruling military council is reportedly going to call for a referendum on constitutional changes by the end of March.

 

 

Conditions have not completely returned to normalcy in the country. Some public sector laborers are still on strike for poor working conditions and low salaries.

 

 

Source: PressTV.
Link: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/167417.html.

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Tunisia names new prime minister

Sun Feb 27, 2011

 

 

Tunisia’s interim president has appointed Beji Caid Sebsi as the country’s new prime minister shortly after Mohamed Ghannouchi announced his resignation.

 

 

“I proposed Beji Caid Sebsi for the position of prime minister, and he has accepted the responsibility,” AFP quoted Fouad Mebazaa as saying on Sunday.

 

 

Sebsi, a former foreign minister, has replaced Ghannouchi, who was forced to step down after incessant protests that followed the overthrow of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s regime.

 

 

Meanwhile, clashes have once again erupted in the Tunisian capital between protesters and security forces.

 

 

Police have used tear gas and warning shots to prevent pro-democracy protesters from reaching the interior ministry.

 

 

On Saturday, protesters demanding the removal of some ministers from the interim government, clashed with security forces. Three people were killed and dozens wounded while more than one hundred were arrested.

 

 

Demonstrators have expressed concern that their popular revolution may be stolen by Ben Ali’s cronies, who are still in office.

 

 

The government earlier announced that it would hold elections by mid-July in response to growing protests.

 

 

The revolution that ousted Ben Ali after 23 years in power has ignited other popular revolutions in North African and Middle Eastern countries.

 

 

Source: PressTV.
Link: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/167406.html.

Protesters block entrance to Bahrain parliament

Mon, 28 Feb 2011

 

 

Manama – Bahrain protesters on Monday blocked the entrances to the upper house of the National Assembly, or Shura, forcing a temporary shut down.

 

 

Students from several high schools also joined the protests across the Gulf island – either marching to parliament or demonstrating inside their schools in support of the nationwide demands since February 14 for political reforms.

 

 

Students from a university on the outskirts of the capital Manama marched towards the country’s state-owned television station, BTV.

 

 

The demonstrators surrounding the National Assembly building called for the release of detainees and the prosecution of ministers and officials involved in attacks on peaceful protesters, in which seven died and hundreds were injured since the unrest began.

 

 

The protests come a day after parliamentarians from Al-Wefaq, an Islamic Shiite opposition group, resigned over the attacks on demonstrators.

 

 

Shiite Muslims make up more than 70 per cent of Bahrain’s population, but the ruling family is Sunni Muslim.

 

 

Bahrain King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa had last week carried out a limited cabinet reshuffle and pardoned more then 300 detainees in an effort to encourage a dialogue between the government and the opposition.

 

 

But the opposition has said the reshuffle was not enough and that the cabinet must resign before talks can start. The opposition also said it wanted assurances that further political reforms would be introduced.

 

 

US President Barack Obama on Sunday said Bahrain’s king had made “important changes” to his cabinet and was “restating his commitment to reform.”

 

 

Obama in a statement also backed a national dialogue launched by Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa.

 

 

The Obama administration has been cautious in its approach to the ongoing protests in Bahrain, which is a key US ally in the region and hosts the Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

 

 

Source: Earth Times.
Link: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/news/369478,block-entrance-bahrain-parliament.html.

Senior Russian Senator: ‘Georgia Ordered Domodedovo Bombing’

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi
27 Feb.’11

Alexander Torshin, deputy speaker of Russia’s upper house of the Parliament, Federal Council, said he did not believe Islamist militants were behind the January terrorist act at Domodedovo airport in Moscow and blamed Georgia for ordering the attack.

He said in an interview with the Russian state newspaper, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, published on February 25, that Islamist rebel leader Doku Umarov, who said he had ordered the Domodedovo bombing, had either nothing to do with this attack or at most acted as a middleman between those who had really ordered it and those who had carried it out.

“I am sure the terrorist act was organized from outside… I will say from where, although I understand that my words may trigger wave of anger and misunderstanding, but I think, it was Georgia and its ruling regime [who ordered the attack],” Torshin said.

“Saakashvili is not hiding his animosity towards us. He has long turned anti-Russian attitudes into a competitive product, which he is selling.There is nothing else to sell; the Georgian wines are being sold poorly on the foreign markets… But there is a demand on Russophobia. The Saakashvili’s regime had no need at all in Umarov to organize the terrorist act, because there is Ossetian traitor [Dimitri] Sanakoev [the head of Tbilisi-based provisional South Ossetian administration] and his network of agents,” he added.

Torshin, who is a member of ruling United Russia party, led the parliamentary commission of inquiry into 2004 Beslan school hostage-taking tragedy and a commission to probe into the August, 2008 war. He is a member of National Counter-terrorism Committee (NAK), which is Russia’s government body coordinating anti-terrorism policies.

Source: Civil Georgia.

Link: http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=23189.

MB chairman mourns Turkey’s first Islamist PM

Sunday, February 27, 2011

 

 

The Muslim Brotherhood’s chairman Dr. Mohamed Badie offered his sincerest sympathy following the death of Turkey’s first Islamist Prime Minister, Negm Eldin Erbakan, who died at the age of 85. Erbakan who served only a year as prime minister was forced to stand down in 1997 by Turkey’s staunchly secular military.

 

 

His Islamist Welfare Party was prevented from practicing politics or emerging in the political arena in 1998 and he was banned for five years for violating the constitution.

 

 

Turkey’s current governing AK Party, which has Islamist roots, grew out of Welfare.

 

 

Source: Ikhwanweb.
Link: http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=28113.

Syria, Iran sign naval training pact

Damascus, Feb 27 (IANS) Syria and Iran have signed a naval training agreement, media reports said.

 

 

Taleb al-Bari, chief of Syria’s navy, and his Iranian counterpart, Habibollah Sayyari, signed the agreement on the Iranian ship Kharg which was docked at the Syrian coast, Xinhua reported citing local Damascus Press news website.

 

 

Sayyari, who arrived in Syria Wednesday, said his country’s vessels were on a ‘routine voyage’ and had never participated in any military exercise.

 

 

On Thursday, two Iranian navy ships, Alvand, a 1,500-tonne patrol frigate armed with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles, and Kharg, a 33,000-tonne supply vessel, arrived at the Syrian seaport of Lattaqia, 350 km north of Damascus, on a training mission.

 

 

The two vessels, which crossed the Suez Canal in Egypt before entering the Mediterranean Sea, have aroused anger among Israeli top officials, who regarded the voyage as a provocative step.

 

 

Source: Sify.
Link: http://www.sify.com/news/syria-iran-sign-naval-training-pact-news-international-lc1gEebgjde.html.

Algerian police block new protests

By Abdellah Cheballah (AFP)

 

 

ALGIERS — Several hundred riot police blocked a new opposition attempt to stage an anti-government march in the center of the Algerian capital Saturday.

 

 

The demonstration by about 100 people against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s decades-old regime had been meant to start two days after the government lifted a state of emergency in force for 19 years, amidst a split in the Algerian opposition.

 

 

But hundreds of police in helmets and shields blocked access to two central squares where protesters on Feb 12 and 19 tried to stage marches, which have been banned in the capital since 2001.

 

 

Police were backed up by armored vehicles as a helicopter flew overhead, but witnesses said their overall presence was less than for both earlier rallies this month.

 

 

Demonstrators, led by Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) leader Said Sadi, were unable to rally in Martyr square as planned, an AFP journalist saw. Sadi was surrounded by police before the scheduled start of the protest march at 1000 GMT. Another RCD lawmaker, Mohamed Khendek, was evacuated by ambulance.

 

 

“I was hit in the stomach with a club when I tried to resist the officers who took on Said Sadi. I passed out and they took me to a hospital. I’m not injured,” he told AFP by telephone after leaving the hospital.

 

 

Police pushed RCD supporters to the nearby seafront.

 

 

Shouting his name, about 20 stalwarts of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika brandished his portraits and a banner in Arabic reading: “Algerians are pro-Bouteflika”.

 

 

Finding themselves between the two groups, police averted any possible clashes.

 

 

A leading RCD figure, Madjid Yousfi, was confident that “the uprising in the region’s countries will bring down all dictatorships as in the 1950s during decolonization”.

 

 

Last weekend, protesters clashed with riot police who stopped a bid by some 3,000 people to march in the capital.

 

 

On Thursday, the 73-year-old Bouteflika also promised to place “anti-corruption” at the heart of government action, along with reforms to help the economy, employment and housing to regain Algerians’ support and ward off a wave of unrest similar to the ones that engulfed Egypt and Tunisia.

 

 

Unprecedented protests were staged in January that left five dead.

 

 

The latest protest was called after a split in the opposition this week.

 

 

While the RCD vowed it would march Saturday “and every Saturday” its former ally, the National Coordination for Change and Democracy (CNCD), an opposition umbrella group formed last month, begged out, saying it planned to “revamp the movement”.

 

 

The CNCD has said it wants the immediate end of Bouteflika’s regime, citing the same problems of high unemployment, housing and soaring costs that inspired the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

 

 

Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.

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