Egypt: Life Sentences For 53 Defendants In ‘Nahda Events’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Egypt: Life Sentences for 53 Defendants in ‘Nahda Events’

Monday, 6 May, 2019 – 09:00
A protester reacts during demonstrations in Cairo January 29, 2011. (File photo: Reuters)
Cairo – Asharq Al-Awsat
An Egyptian court on Sunday handed life sentences to 53 people for participating in the “Muslim Brotherhood” gathering at al-Nahda Square in Giza in 2013.

Two others were given a one-year prison sentence, while 10 were acquitted of the charges during a retrial.

The total number of defendants in the case is 379, including 189 detainees.

The court also ordered the accused to pay EGP 2 million to Orman Park, EGP 10 million for Giza province, and EGP 25 million to the Engineering Faculty at Cairo University for damages.

The prosecution accused the defendants of organizing a gathering in Nahda Square, putting the lives of citizens at stake, resisting police forces responsible for dispersing the rally, premeditated murder and carrying unlicensed weapons and ammunition.

Last month, the Court of Cassation rejected 66 appeals in the same case, upholding the verdicts.

The court also acquitted 115 defendants and terminated the criminal prosecution of two defendants after they died. All defendants were fined EGP 39 million for the damages they caused at the zoo, al-Orman, Giza Governorate, and Engineering Faculty at Cairo University.

On August 14, 2013, the Egyptian security services broke up two protests- the Rabaa sit-in in Cairo, and the Nahda protest in neighboring Giza – following the toppling of the regime of former president Mohamed Morsi, who is considered a terrorist by the authorities.

In addition, the Criminal Court of Cairo decided to adjourn Morsi’s retrial, along with a number of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and top officials in the lawsuit known as the “illegal crossing of eastern borders.”

The trial was postponed to Saturday after a number of detained defendants failed to appear in court.

Seizing Sudan’s moment of change: How Congress can help

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BROOKINGS BRIEF)

 

Seizing Sudan’s moment of change: How Congress can help

Zach Vertin

The Arab Spring did not begin in 2011. It started a generation earlier, in 1985, at least according to many proud citizens of Sudan. A president was removed from office that year on the back of popular protests, an uprising that has served as a beacon of hope, however faint, during three decades of political darkness since. Today, tens of thousands of Sudanese have again taken to the streets of Khartoum, hoping to recapture those heady memories and send another president packing. Congress is uniquely positioned to help them, and to reduce the chances of another violent collapse in the region. But it must act fast.

Author

This week’s record turnout is the latest in a series of anti-government demonstrations that began last December in response to rising food prices. After years of corruption and mismanagement, the country’s economy has all but flat-lined, kept alive only by sporadic cash injections from the Gulf. Recent years have seen similar protests over the country’s political and economic malaise, each crushed by the country’s formidable national security apparatus—one place the government has invested heavily as an insurance policy against its own misrule.

But this time around, something is different. Where past demonstrations were focused in Khartoum and championed by narrow constituencies, this year’s protests have proven more diverse and more widespread—and thus more resilient. Sparked in Atbara, a medium-sized city in the country’s north, the so-called #SudanUprising spread across the country and has been sustained by a broader swath of Sudanese society—including the professional classes that had long been decimated or chased abroad. Khartoum’s repressive regime is known for snuffing out such public dissent, but this time the revolutionary sentiment is burning bright.

Adding new fuel are divisions inside the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), a floundering organization that long ago traded policy and ideology for a platform of survival. The party, headed by President Omar Bashir, an indictee of the International Criminal Court, has often been misunderstood as a monolith. But fault lines have always run through it—between civilians and securocrats, Islamists and secularists, socialists and capitalists—including over how to engage the West. The cracks deepened last year when Bashir, who came to power in a 1989 coup d’état, again sought the nomination for elections in 2020. (Behind closed doors, more than a few party members will tell you they are as keen to see Bashir gone as his most ardent critics on the street.)

Splits within the country’s security establishment have also become more pronounced, the product of rivalry between the army and its increasingly powerful competitors. Protestors are calling on the army to step in, as it did in 1985, and so many officers suddenly confront a difficult decision: side with the embattled president or the masses now gathered at their gates. In recent days, army factions have taken measures to protect demonstrators against attacks from paramilitary forces and the omnipresent National Intelligence and Security Service. Today these forces clashed openly—an ominous sign of what may be to come.

The question at the core of Sudan’s current tumult is not whether President Bashir should go or not, as his departure is long overdue. The question is how: how to do so in a manner that maximizes the chances of a managed transition and minimizes the threat of violent collapse.

Opposition constituencies are rightly calling for a transitional government under new leadership, one that would oversee an inclusive constitutional review process and pave a path to internationally monitored elections. Such an arrangement would necessarily involve the release of political prisoners, an end to restrictions on political activity, and a cessation of conflict in Sudan’s peripheries. Most consequentially, a transition would necessarily include the NCP but articulate a time-bound exit for President Bashir, who has been clinging to office to avoid  arraignment at the Hague. No one should pretend this will be easy, but it is the best path forward.

For far too long, American policy toward Sudan was defined by pressure and isolation, a posture that failed to produce desired outcomes in part because sanctions were too often employed to punish rather than to leverage change. (More recent U.S. diplomatic efforts to do the latter have yielded results.) Congress now has a chance to nudge Sudan in the right direction—by sending a clear signal to moderate forces of reform, and to those now sitting on the fence, that there is a path back to international credibility, and to American partnership.

Democrats and Republicans should adopt a resolution articulating the parameters of a transition, in exchange for which Congress would move quickly to roll back existing punitive measures and offer incentives to bolster a transition. This could include: supporting international debt relief at the World Bank and earmarking funds to clear the fairly modest U.S. portion of Sudan’s debt, thereby unlocking debt relief among a pool of larger foreign creditors; signaling readiness to restore diplomatic relations, including by encouraging a visit from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and by confirming a new U.S. ambassador to Sudan—the first since 1997; allocating new development funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and taking concrete steps to promote commercial investment, and; lifting Sudan’s designation as State Sponsor of Terror, should Khartoum continue to comply with the technical requirements.

Those who hope for a better future are right now gathered at the gates of Sudan’s military headquarters. They deserve not only a chance for political renewal, but to be spared from a Libya-like disaster. Washington cannot determine the outcome, but it should act now to give them the best chance of success.

Women In Madagascar Fight Sexism And Victim-Shaming By The Government

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

#MySkirtMyRight: Women in Madagascar fight sexism and victim-shaming by the government

Screenshot from the TV5 Monde (national TV channel) coverage on the wave “My Skirt My Right” in Madagascar

Men’s greedy needs to assault women reduce as women wear modest clothes. It is therefore every parent’s duty to guide their daughters towards the right path and stop them from wearing revealing clothes and exposing themselves.

This is the message (since deleted) that was published on the Ministry of Education’s Facebook page on April 12, 2019, as the Malagasy government urged women not to wear revealing clothes in order to avoid being sexually assaulted.

In response, many Malagasy women shared pictures of themselves on social media wearing skirts or dresses using the hashtag #MaJupeMonDroit (My Skirt My Right) to voice their outrage at this sexist request that essentially shames victims instead of sanctioning men’s aggressive behavior. A more rational approach to preventing rape would be to educate people not to assault women. Below is a screenshot of Ministry of Education’s original Facebook post in Malagasy, before it was taken down:

Screenshot of the Facebook post from the Ministry of Education on the 12th April, requesting women to avoid wearing revealing clothes.

The wave of protests rapidly spread online in Madagascar. The movement started on social media by the Malagasy NGO Nifin’Akanga, which is fighting to decriminalize abortion. On the same day of the Ministry’s post, Nifin’Akanga responded quickly on Facebook, inviting the Malagasy online community to participate in an online campaign:

/// Skirt challenge/// 😉 PLEASE SHARE !!
Take a selfie in an outfit that you like: skirt, dress, etc.👗
Add the
#majupemondroit
My skirt, my right…
His zip, his problem with the law.
My body, my right
My uterus…not your decision!

They were joined by activists in the country and members of the Malagasy diaspora. Many activists also used the internationally-recognized hashtag #StopRapeCulture.

An editor in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, Soa Anina, listed on her blog 30 answers to 30 stereotypes of this movement. Here are a few of them:

No, the “sexual needs of predators” will not be kept under control this way, and certainly not if they benefit from the support of the Ministry. The government is only avoiding the issue by pointing the finger at the victim instead of the guilty abuser. No, it is not the responsibility of women to handle men’s and boys’ behaviors: men have to learn to behave with dignity in all circumstances, and parents need to educate their boys to become men. (…) The truth is, no garment will ever protect you. It is not about the garment: the pervert perpetrates the crime not because of his libido, but because he gets his pleasure from power, control and domination, all unrelated to the clothing worn, even if deemed “too sexy”. The Malagasy word “fanolanana” is an accurate description of rape: bend it until its resistance weakens.

The protest storm continued and was amplified by the national newspapers and online publications. Nasolo Valiavo Andriamiahaja is an editor for the newspaper l’Express de Madagascar. He associates all types of restrictive policies on clothing to a regression of women’s rights.  He recalls an anecdote from the King of Morocco during his temporary forced exile in Madagascar:

The Moroccan writer Tahar ben Jelloun shares that the king of Morocco Mohammed V did not hesitate to show off his daughters without the scarf, upon his return from Antsirabe (a province of Madagascar) in 1956, where the French colonial administration had exiled him. “Between the nineteen fifties and the start of the nineteen eighties, most Moroccan women had stopped wearing the scarf. They were wearing the djellaba and kept their head uncovered. It was the Iranian revolution and Khomeyni’s demagogic speeches that brought the scarf back.”

Following this uproar, the Ministry of Education formally apologized in a press release, putting an end to the storm:

Official statement from the Ministry published on Facebook explaining the withdrawal of the action against sexual assaults.

But for a number of activists and journalists like Antananarivo-based Mbolatiana Raveloarimisa, the fight is not over:

A lot of comments were trying to shame women instead of supporting the movement. This sad incident is only the catalyst that opened our eyes to a hidden reality. In Malagasy society, violence against women is only the tip of a huge iceberg. The entire administration is only the crystallization of a national silence on violence against women.

African Union Dispatches Delegate To Sudan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

African Union Dispatches Delegate to Sudan

Monday, 29 April, 2019 – 09:15
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi poses for a photo with heads of several African states during a summit to discuss Sudan and Libya, in Cairo, Egypt April 23, 2019. (Reuters)
Nouakchott – Al-Sheikh Mohammed
The African Union (AU) has sent special envoy Mauritanian diplomat Mohamed El-Hassan Ould Labbat to Sudan following the political crisis the country has seen since the toppling of former President Omar al-Bashir.

The Union said that the new envoy is tasked with providing African assistance to the efforts of the parties in order to lay the foundations for an urgent democratic transitional phase in the country.

The AU stressed that this phase must end with the establishment of a democratic system and civil governance in Sudan.

By choosing Labbat as the envoy, the AU wants to keep abreast of developments in Sudan, facilitate the transition and establish communication between all parties.

AU Commissioner Moussa Faki Mahamat had visited Khartoum and held intensive meetings with the leaders of the ruling transitional military council and the opposition forces.

Mahamat had previously granted the council 15 days to hand over power to civilians.

The AU had held a summit in Egypt on Tuesday and agreed to give Sudan’s ruling military council two weeks to six months to hand over power to a civilian government – a key opposition demand.

Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, who holds the rotating AU presidency, said that the meeting agreed on the need to deal with the situation in Sudan by working to “quickly restore the constitutional system through a political democratic process led and managed by the Sudanese themselves”.

“We agreed on the need to give more time to Sudanese authorities and Sudanese parties to implement these measures,” he added.

The presidents of Chad, Djibouti, Rwanda, the Congo, Somalia and South Africa, the AU commissioner and representatives of Ethiopia, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria participated in the Cairo summit.

Mahamat warned that if Sudan’s military rulers fail to hand over power to a civilian government by the end of the deadline, the country’s membership in the Union will be suspended.

Mozambique: Cyclone Kenneth: Entire villages wiped out, says UN

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Cyclone Kenneth: Entire villages wiped out, says UN

Media caption Eye witness captures moment Kenneth hits northern Mozambique

A powerful cyclone has “entirely wiped out” villages in Mozambique, according to a UN official.

Gemma Connell, the head of the regional Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said it looked from the air like areas had been “run over by a bulldozer”.

Cyclone Kenneth struck on Thursday with winds of 220km/h (140mph).

It came barely a month after Cyclone Idai killed more than 900 people across three countries.

In a video posted on Twitter after flying over the affected area, Ms Connell pledged to work with local authorities “to get people the supplies they need”.

“The weather is still bad, it is still raining,” she said. “But thankfully the winds have died down.”

Presentational white space

The BBC’s Pumza Fihlani reports that damage to power lines in parts of northern Mozambique is making communication difficult.

Almost 20,000 people have taken shelter in makeshift displacement centres, including schools and churches, our correspondent adds.

A UN spokesman said a total of five people have now died, quoting Mozambique’s government, according to reports.

One person was earlier reported to have been killed when Cyclone Kenneth struck after being crushed by a falling tree. The storm also killed three people on the island nation of Comoros.

Is this unusual for the region?

UN weather experts say it is unprecedented for two cyclones of such intensity to hit Mozambique in the same season.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) also said that no previous records show a cyclone striking the region as far north as Kenneth.

It said a fact-finding mission would examine the “impact of climate change and sea-level rise on Mozambique’s resilience” to extreme weather.

Family displaced by Cyclones Idai and KennethImage copyrightAFP
Image captionFamilies have been left displaced by the cyclones

Amnesty International’s secretary general Kumi Naidoo said the two storms were “exactly what climate scientists warned would happen if we continue to warm our planet beyond its limits”.

“There is one inescapable and burning injustice we cannot stress enough,” he said, adding: “The people of Mozambique are paying the price for dangerous climate change when they have done next to nothing to cause this crisis.”

What was Kenneth’s impact?

Kenneth made landfall on the northern province of Cabo Delgado on Thursday evening, with wind speeds equivalent to a category four hurricane.

Winds eased on Friday, but France’s meteorological agency said up to 800mm of rain was expected to land on Mozambique over the coming days – nearly double the 10-day accumulated rainfall that flooded the port city of Beira during Cyclone Idai.

The UN’s World Food Programme said it was working on an “emergency preparedness plan” with the Mozambican government and other humanitarian groups.

“The most difficult thing is transportation – we don’t have helicopters yet,” Capt Kleber Castro from a Brazilian rescue team said. “We need a lot of support.”

Mozambique’s National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC) said 30,000 people had been evacuated from affected areas.

What is the affected area like?

Cabo Delgado province is not as densely populated as the area hit by Cyclone Idai, and there is apparently more high ground there.

But reports said many thousands of homes had been flattened by the winds, and the area has been hit by militant Islamist violence in recent months, which could complicate humanitarian operations.

Thousands of people had already fled their homes to seek shelter from violence in camps for displaced people.

What about other countries in the region?

Comoros is still reeling from damage caused by the cyclone, and in some southern areas of neighbouring Tanzania, authorities have ordered schools and businesses to close.

People stand by damaged houses and fallen trees in ComorosImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption Cyclone Kenneth has already devastated areas of the island nation of Comoros

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies shared images of the damage on social media. In a tweet, the group confirmed it had volunteers on the ground assisting communities.

Presentational white space

Despite Zimbabwe being further inland, officials there said they were also putting their disaster management agencies on alert.

“Drawing lessons from Cyclone Idai we cannot take chances any more,” said Department of Civil Protection director Nathan Nkomo.


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Algerian, Tunisian Meeting Addresses Libyan Crisis, Terrorism

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Algerian, Tunisian Meeting Addresses Libyan Crisis, Terrorism

Friday, 26 April, 2019 – 09:30
A general view shows part of Tunis, the capital of Tunisia [Reuters]
Tunis, London – Mongi Saidani, Asharq Al-Awsat
Algerian Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum visited Tunisia Thursday on his first foreign visit since assuming his position following the political change in his country.

The visit aims at supporting security and military coordination to counter the dangers of terrorism, in light of political instability in Libya, and comes after an invitation from Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui.

Prior to Boukadoum’s visit to Tunis, Jhinaoui revealed that he discussed with Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar putting an end to the clashes in the country. Haftar informed Jhinaoui that he doesn’t reject calls for dialogue with representatives of the Government of National Accord (GNA).

Haftar noted that as the LNA commander, he is required to fight terrorist organizations.

In a related context, Jhinaoui said that he also spoke with the GNA Foreign Minister, stressing that his country deals with all parties, and does not line up with any Libyan party, at the expense of the other.

Earlier, Jhinaoui called on his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian to push the five permanent countries at the UN Security Council to have a unified stance toward the ongoing fighting in Libya.

Le Drian informed Jhinaoui that France is working with the Security Council member states to put an end to the fighting in Libya.

Both ministers discussed also the need for an immediate ceasefire in Tripoli and for the political process to resume under the auspices of the UN.

In other news, Tunisian security forces stopped the broadcast of Nessma TV channel for violating laws of the audio and visual sector.

The Interior Ministry confirmed that the Communications Authority issued the order to stop the broadcast of the channel, and security forces had entered the network’s offices and confiscated equipment.

“On April 15, the Communications Authority issued an order to seize the network’s broadcasting equipment since the channel is operating without legal basis,” the ministry stated.

The Commission seized the channel’s equipment on the grounds that the company licensed since 2009, did not abide by the new laws since the call to do so in 2014.

Head of the Commission, Nuri al-Lajmi, explained that authorities waited for four years for the channel to settle its status, although the law obliges it to do so within a period not exceeding one year.

Nessma officials said security forces had stormed its Tunis offices on Thursday morning and cut the network’s transmission. The staff gathered in front of the channel’s building and chanted against the government.

The channel also claimed the Commission’s decision was politicized, which Lajmi denied asserting that no political party influenced the government’s order.

The ministry denied the channel’s assertion that security forces had assaulted Nessma employees.

Global Warming Shrank India’s Economy By 31%

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Global warming shrank Indian economy by 31%: Study

The study from 1961 to 2010, global warming decreased the wealth per person in the world’s poorest countries by 17 to 30 per cent.

WORLD Updated: Apr 23, 2019 11:46 IST

Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Boston
global warming,Indian economy,nigeria
Global warming shrank Indian economy by 31%: Study(AFP)

Global warming has caused the Indian economy to be 31 per cent smaller than it would otherwise have been, according to a Stanford study which shows how Earth’s temperature changes have increased inequalities.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that growing concentrations of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere since 1960s have enriched cool countries like Norway and Sweden, while dragging down economic growth in warm countries such as India and Nigeria.

“Our results show that most of the poorest countries on Earth are considerably poorer than they would have been without global warming,” said climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh, from Stanford University in the US.

“At the same time, the majority of rich countries are richer than they would have been,” Diffenbaugh said in a statement.

The study from 1961 to 2010, global warming decreased the wealth per person in the world’s poorest countries by 17 to 30 per cent. Meanwhile, the gap between the group of nations with the highest and lowest economic output per person is now approximately 25 per cent larger than it would have been without climate change.

While the impacts of temperature may seem small from year to year, they can yield dramatic gains or losses over time. “This is like a savings account, where small differences in the interest rate will generate large differences in the account balance over 30 or 50 years,” said Diffenbaugh. After accumulating decades of small effects from warming, India’s economy is now 31 per cent smaller than it would have been in the absence of global warming, he said.

Although economic inequality between countries has decreased in recent decades, the research suggests the gap would have narrowed faster without global warming.

The study builds on previous research in the team analysed 50 years of annual temperature and GDP measurements for 165 countries to estimate the effects of temperature fluctuations on economic growth. They demonstrated that growth during warmer than average years has accelerated in cool nations and slowed in warm nations.

“The historical data clearly show that crops are more productive, people are healthier and we are more productive at work when temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold,” said Marshall Burke, a Stanford assistant professor of Earth system science. “This means that in cold countries, a little bit of warming can help. The opposite is true in places that are already hot,” said Burke.

Researchers combined data from more than 20 climate models developed by research centres around the world. Using the climate models to isolate how much each country has already warmed due to human-caused climate change, the researchers were able to determine what each country’s economic output might have been had temperatures not warmed.

“For most countries, whether global warming has helped or hurt economic growth is pretty certain,” said Burke. Tropical countries, in particular, tend to have temperatures far outside the ideal for economic growth. “There’s essentially no uncertainty that they’ve been harmed,” he said.

It’s less clear how warming has influenced growth in countries in the middle latitudes, including the US, China and Japan. For these and other temperate-climate nations, the analysis reveals economic impacts of less than 10 per cent.

First Published: Apr 23, 2019 11:46 IST

(MAKE THE WORLD GREAT AGAIN SEND ALL THE POLITICIANS ON A ONE WAY TRIP TO MARS) (oldpoet56)

Libyans ‘Ignore’ War To Make Municipal Elections A Success

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Libyans ‘Ignore’ War to Make Municipal Elections a Success

Sunday, 21 April, 2019 – 10:45
A group of members of the Central Committee for Municipal Elections are seen during an election simulation in local school, Tripoli, Libya February 3, 2019. REUTERS/Hani Amara
Cairo – Jamal Jawhar
Municipal elections were held on Saturday in seven cities south Libya despite humanitarian suffering caused by fierce military battles in the capital Tripoli between the Libyan National Army (LNA) and forces loyal to the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).

Fifty-nine polling stations were opened from nine am to six pm to receive some 138.61 voters in Brak al-Shati, Edri al-Shati, al-Rahibat, Ubari, al-Garda al-Shati, al-Shwairif, and Zelton.

The Central Commission of Municipal Councils Elections (CCMCE) tweeted that the voting process continued throughout the day without obstacles or crises amid a remarkable turnout of citizens.

UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame hailed Saturday the keenness of Libyans to hold municipal elections despite the current conflict in the country.

Seven municipalities held elections, Salame tweeted on his official twitter account, lauding their persistence to take part in these elections.

CCMCE held municipal elections in nine municipalities in southern and western Libya in late March, the first in five years. The participation rate back then exceeded 40 percent and was under the supervision of the GNA Presidential Council.

Libyan journalist Idris Jabaji, who lives in the southern city of Sabha, wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday that the city’s municipal elections will take place on April 27, announcing his support for one of the competing lists.

The CCMCE had complained about the lack of funds needed to hold the elections and called on the government to provide 50 million dinars ($36 million).

Holding these elections was the first phase of the UN road map, which was supposed to precede adopting a permanent constitution and holding presidential and parliamentary elections before the outbreak of war in Tripoli.

The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) called on the government to provide funding for the municipal elections while it has been providing technical support along with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to the CCMCE since March 2018.

Notably, there are 120 local councils in Libya all of which have begun operating in 2013 to replace the councils established by Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. Some of them held elections in 2014.

The municipal council is composed of seven members, who in turn elect their president internally.

Houthis Use Mosques as Platforms to Spread Sectarianism in Sanaa

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Exclusive – Houthis Use Mosques as Platforms to Spread Sectarianism in Sanaa

Monday, 15 April, 2019 – 09:00
A view of the old quarter of Sanaa, Yemen August 6, 2018. (Reuters)
Sanaa – Asharq Al-Awsat

The Iran-backed Houthi militias have imposed their sectarian ideology in Yemen in their attempt to introduce a culture that is alien to the local population.

“We have abandoned our mission of delivering the peaceful message of Islam and its noble values after we realized that the Houthi agenda demands that we give up our principles and values to transform into a mouthpiece to stoke sedition and sectarianism among the people,” said Sheikh Abbas, an imam at a mosque in Houthi-held Sanaa.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat of the suffering and threats clerics and mosque imams have to endure at the hands of the militias that want to impose their ideology.

“Had I known the extent of the danger of the Houthi ideology on Yemeni society, I would not have quit the mosque and would have kept up my duty of guiding the people,” he lamented.

“The majority of the people are not aware that this militia harbors long-term goals. Its main purpose is to destroy the Yemeni identity, culture and social fabric to ignite a sectarian war,” said Sheikh Abbas.

Fortunately, he revealed that the Houthis are “at this moment facing monumental difficulties in convincing the people of their legitimacy.”

If they, however, continue to enjoy such liberties in delivering their hateful ideology, many people will be fooled into believing them, he warned, saying the high illiteracy rates among Yemenis is being exploited by the militias.

Among the lies they promote is the claim that heading to the battlefront to fight for their cause is a form of jihad.

Sheikh Abbas quit his mosque a year-and-a-half ago after he refused to comply with Houthi demands to promote their ideology during his Friday sermons.

Since capturing Sanaa, the militias sought to spread their sectarian ideology among the population. They took over the Ministry of Awqaf, which manages religious affairs, and transformed it into a platform to propagate their destructive Iranian agenda.

One mosque-goer recalled how the Houthis told worshippers that they should bring in their children to the mosque where they can benefit from “religious and cultural teachings, instead of wasting time on the streets.”

Most of the worshippers were angered by this last remark, saying they would rather spend their time on the street than attending sectarian lectures.

One Houthi official at a mosque in Sanaa follows up each prayer with sectarian sermons that incite the people to head to the battlefronts and fight the legitimate army and Arab coalition, describing them as “enemies of Islam.”

He even urged worshippers to abandon their prayers and head to battle.

A former Awqaf Ministry official told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Houthis have adopted a systematic methodology at mosques to spread their Khomeinist ideology.

It sought to take control of the majority of the mosques in Sanaa, appointed its own imams and clerics and confiscated religious books that contradict with their Khomeinist teachings.

Moreover, he revealed that the Houthis force imams to attend sectarian courses to train them on spreading sectarianism that is aimed at tearing apart Yemeni society.

Some of the changes at mosques include altering the call to prayer according to Houthi ideology, organizing exhibits that display images of their sectarian symbols and posting posters of their slogans and dead fighters.

The Houthis exploited the poverty among the people “to buy the loyalty of several clerics and religious scholars to act as mouthpieces to spread the Khomeinist ideology in Yemen,” said the ministry official.

Yemeni rights groups said that the Houthis have seized more than 300 mosques in Yemen and used them as weapons caches. They have also forced the displacement of 1,300 religious scholars and arrested 180 preachers. They also smuggled in Lebanese and Iranian figures, whose purpose is to spread Iranian ideology among the people.

Moreover, the Awqaf Ministry said that between 2014 and 2016, the Houthis bombed and looted over 750 mosques, including 282 in Sanaa. Some 80 mosques were completely destroyed. They kidnapped 150 imams throughout Yemen and held them in secret jails where they are tortured for refusing to accept the Houthi sectarian agenda.

Sudan military coup topples ruler after protests

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Omar al-Bashir: Sudan military coup topples ruler after protests

Media caption The announcement was made by the defence minister Awad Ibn Ouf

After nearly 30 years in power, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has been ousted and arrested, the defence minister says.

Speaking on state TV, Awad Ibn Ouf said the army had decided to oversee a two-year transitional period followed by elections.

He also said a three-month state of emergency was being put in place.

Protests against Mr Bashir, who has governed Sudan since 1989, have been under way for several months.

Meanwhile, the main group that has been organising the demonstrations called for them to continue on Thursday, despite the military intervention.

“I announce as minister of defence the toppling of the regime and detaining its chief in a secure place,” Mr Ibn Ouf said in a statement.

It is not clear where Mr Bashir is being held.

Mr Ibn Ouf said the country had been suffering from “poor management, corruption, and an absence of justice” and he apologised “for the killing and violence that took place”.

Demonstrators wave flags after Sudan's defence minister said that President Omar al-Bashir had been detained in Khartoum, Sudan April 11, 2019Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionSome people celebrated in Khartoum after the army announcement

He said Sudan’s constitution was being suspended, border crossings were being shut until further notice and airspace was being closed for 24 hours.

As the news broke, crowds of protesters celebrated outside army headquarters in the capital, Khartoum, embracing soldiers and climbing on top of armoured vehicles.

Sudan’s intelligence service said it was freeing all political prisoners, state-run Suna news agency reported.

Sudanese demonstrators cheer as they drive towards a military vehicle. Khartoum 11 April 2019Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionAnti-government protesters have been cheering the military

Mr Bashir is the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC), which accuses him of organising war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s western Darfur region.

However it is not clear what will happen to him following his arrest.

How did events unfold?

In the early hours of Thursday, military vehicles were seen entering the large compound in Khartoum that houses the defence ministry, the army headquarters and Mr Bashir’s personal residence, AFP news agency reported.

State TV and radio later interrupted their programming with a message that the army would be making a statement.

Omar al-Bashir - 5 AprilImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionOmar al-Bashir has been in power since 1989

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through central Khartoum, some chanting “It has fallen, we won”.

Will this end the protests?

In a strongly worded statement, the main organisation behind the demonstrations, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), said the military had announced a “coup” that would reproduce the same “faces and institutions that our great people revolted against”.

It urged people to continue the sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum and to stay on the streets of cities across the country.

“Those who destroyed the country and killed the people are seeking to steal every drop of blood and sweat that the Sudanese people poured in their revolution that the shook the throne of tyranny,” the statement read.

Graphic of lngest-serving leaders
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The SPA has previously said that any transitional administration must not include anyone from what it called the “tyrannical regime”.

The protests were originally sparked by a rise in the cost of living, but demonstrators then began calling for the president to resign and his government to go.

Media captionA woman dubbed ‘Kandaka’, which means Nubian queen, has become a symbol for protesters

Omar el-Digeir, a senior protest member, told AFP news agency last week that the group was seeking a path “that represents the wish of the revolution”.

Police had ordered officers not to intervene against the protests, but the government was criticised by rights groups for a heavy-handed response to the unrest.

Government officials say 38 people have died since the unrest began in December, but the pressure group Human Rights Watch said the number was higher.

In February, it looked as though the president might step down at that point, but instead Mr Bashir declared a state of national emergency.

Media captionSudan protests: So what’s going on?

Who is Omar al-Bashir?

Formerly an army officer, he seized power in a military coup in 1989.

His rule has been marked by civil war. The civil conflict with the south of the country ended in 2005 and South Sudan became independent in 2011.

Another civil conflict has been taking place in the western region of Darfur. Mr Bashir is accused of organising war crimes and crimes against humanity there by the ICC.

Despite an international arrest warrant issued by the ICC, he won consecutive elections in 2010 and 2015. However, his last victory was marred by a boycott by the main opposition parties.

The arrest warrant has led to an international travel ban. However, Mr Bashir has made diplomatic visits to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. He was forced into a hasty departure from South Africa in June 2015 as a court there considered whether to enforce the arrest warrant.