Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Looting threatens pharaonic burial site in Dahshour

The video shows some of the destruction that is going on.

DAHSHOUR, Egypt (AP) — Egyptian youths protested Monday at a key historic site, demanding that authorities put a stop to looting and construction that threatens one of the nation's oldest pyramids and burial grounds.
Illegal construction of a new cemetery has been going on for months in part of a 4,500-year-old pharaonic necropolis. The expansion has encroached on the largely unexplored complex of Dahshour, where Pharaoh Sneferu experimented with the first smooth-sided pyramids that his son Khufu, also known as Cheops, employed at the more famous Giza Plateau nearby, when he built the Great Pyramid.
Authorities issued an order in January to remove the construction equipment, instructing the Interior Ministry's police to implement it, but no action has been taken.
Bent Pyramid
Bent pyramid of Seneferu

Also, a security vacuum that followed Egypt's 2011 popular uprising has encouraged looters to step up their illegal digs, clashing with guards at the site.
On Monday, dozens of young protesters at the site about 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Cairo held up a sign that read: "God does not bless a nation that gives up its heritage."

The area, designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, also includes the adjacent Valley Temple and the 3,800-year-old Black Pyramid of Amenemhat III.
Nearby is Sneferu's Bent Pyramid, some 700 years older, with its distinctive bent sides believed to have been caused when the builders had to correct the angle halfway through construction. Farther away is the Red Pyramid, where Sneferu's builders got the angles right, producing the first smooth-sided pyramid, evolving from the stepped structures built by earlier dynasties.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Erdogan hails planned withdrawal of Kurdish PKK-fighters

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday hailed the planned withdrawal of Kurdish rebel fighters from Turkey as the end of a "dark era" but warned against potential sabotage of a historic peace process.
The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which seeks autonomy for Turkey's Kurdish southeast, on Thursday ordered its fighters in Turkey to begin withdrawing to its main base in the mountains of northern Iraq under a carefully choreographed peace plan.
The withdrawal, due to begin on May 8, follows months of negotiations between Turkish intelligence officers and Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK's jailed leader, to try to end hostilities after the bloodiest fighting in a decade erupted in June 2011. More than 40,000 people, mainly Kurds, have died in the conflict since 1984.
"The door is closing on a dark era. Turkey is changing its ill fortune and is entering a new phase," Erdogan told a business group in comments broadcast live by state television, his first since the withdrawal was announced.
Some 2,000 PKK rebels are set to retreat in small groups in a process that will take months and is to be monitored by Turkish intelligence on one side and the Kurdish regional government in Iraq on the other.
The withdrawal is a significant advance in a process offering the best chance in more than a decade of ending a conflict that has blotted Turkey's human rights record and stunted economic growth. Erdogan's government is now expected to tackle some of the political reforms sought by Kurds, including constitutional changes on citizenship, changes to anti-terrorism laws and broader Kurdish cultural and political rights.

Yet nationalists have slammed the jailhouse negotiations with Ocalan, who is serving a life sentence for treason, arguing that it means surrender to the demands of "terrorists". Others have asked what the government has promised Ocalan in return for a PKK withdrawal.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Omayyad mosque in Aleppo looses minaret

The historic Umayyad mosque in Aleppo without its minaret 
 The magnificent so called Omayyad mosque in Aleppo, originally built in 715, is in fact a structure from the 13th century. It was rebuilt by the Mameluks, after the original was almost entirely destroyed by fire. The  minaret, however, was somewhat older. It had also been damaged, but was recontructed by the Seljuks in 1090 (and later embellished by the Mamluks). It was one of the the oldest still standing square minarets in the world. But, alas, since Wednesday 24 April, it does not exist anymore. The Syrian government blames the rebels of the Nusra front (Jebhat al-Nusra) for the deratruction, and the front blames the government. This is the sad reality of present day Syria.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Group of former European leaders: The Oslo process has nothing more to offer

 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with EU foreign commisioner Catherine Ashton on May 09, 0212 in Jerusalem. (Amos Ben Gershom / GPO via Getty Images)
 EU-commissioner Catherine Ashton visits Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 9.5.12. (Getty)

A number of prominent European ex-politicians and leaders have urged to leave the Oslo-process between Israel en the Palestinians and work out something new. In a letter to EU-commissioner Ashton they argue that the Oslo peace process has nothing more to offer and that it is time to conceive something new: 
''We have watched with increasing disappointment over the past five years the failure of the parties to start any kind of productive discussion, and of the international community under American and/or European leadership to promote such discussion.  We have also noted with frustration and deep concern the deteriorating standards of humanitarian and human rights care of the population in the Occupied Territories.  The security and long-term stability of Israel, an essential objective in any process, cannot be assured in such conditions, any more than the legitimate rights and interests of the Palestinian people.

President Obama made some of these points during his March 2013 visit to the region, particularly in his address to the people of Israel, but he gave no indication of action to break the deep stagnation, nor any sign that he sought something other than the re-start of talks between West Bank and Israeli leaders under the Oslo Process, which lost its momentum long ago.

We are therefore appealing to you, and through you to the members of the Council of Ministers, to recognise that the Peace Process as conceived in the Oslo Agreements has nothing more to offer. Yet the present political stalemate, while the situation deteriorates  on the ground, is unsustainable, given the disturbed politics of the region and the bitterness generated by the harsh conditions of life under the Occupation.''
The letter also blames the Western countries themselves, as they have done next to nothing to reverse the situation:
It is time to give a stark warning that the Occupation is actually being entrenched by the present Western policy. The Palestinian Authority cannot survive without leaning on Israeli security assistance and Western funding and, since the PA offers little hope of progress towards self-determination for the Palestinian people, it is fast losing respect and support from its domestic constituency. The steady increase in the extent and population of Israeli settlements, including in East Jerusalem, and the entrenchment of Israeli control over the OT in defiance of international law, indicate a permanent trend towards a complete dislocation of Palestinian territorial rights.
We have reached the conclusion that there must be a new approach. Letting the situation lie unaddressed is highly dangerous when such an explosive issue sits in such a turbulent environment.
The Eminent Persons Group gives a number of recommendations for a new approach, among which are the following:
- an explicit recognition that the current status of the Palestinian Territories is one of occupation, with responsibility for their condition falling under international law on the occupying state;
- an insistence that Israeli settlements beyond the 1967 lines are illegal, must cease being expanded and will not be recognised as one of the starting points in any new negotiations;
- a stipulation that any representative political organisation with a valid claim to participate in negotiations must renounce the use of violence outside established UN norms; a clearer willingness within the EU to play a political and not just a funding role and to resume a more strategic dialogue with the Palestinians.
- a vigorous international drive for the implementation of much improved humanitarian and human rights conditions in both the West Bank and Gaza, monitored by the United Nations, whatever the state of peace negotiations might be at any time.

The Eminent Persons Group is led by Sir Jeremy Greenstock, former UK Ambassador to the UN; Hubert Védrine, former French Foreign Minister; and Wolfgang Ischinger, former State Secretary of the German Foreign Ministry—representing the E.U. 3, the most powerful grouping in the bloc and one that leads on many foreign policy issues. Other signatories included former prime ministers of France Lionel Jospin, Former Prime Minister of Ireland John Bruton, Former Prime Minister of Italy Giuiliano Amato, Former Prime Ministre of the Netherlands Andreas van Agt, Former High Representative and Former NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana; Former president of Latvia Vaira Vike-Freiberga, and a host of other former foreign ministers and top government deputies, including veteran officials of multilateral groups like NATO and the E.U. itself. (Dutch ex-politicians that signed were, apart from former Prime Minister Van Agt, Frans Andriessen, Former Vice-President of the European Commission, Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, former Vice-Prime Minister,and Hans van den Broek, former Netherlands Foreign Minister and Former EU Commissioner for External Relations).

(For the complete text of the letter, click here) 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

IMF team leaves Egypt without concluding a deal about loan

Gas Station
Fuel shortage in Egypt: buses, microbuses and pickups queue for diesel.

A team from the International Monetary Fund concluded a two week visit to Egypt on Monday without signing a deal on a much-anticipated $4.8 billion loan,  Andreas Bauer, mission chief for Egypt, said in a statement issued Monday after midnight Cairo time.
The last time an IMF technical team was in Cairo in November 2012, a 'staff level agreement' on the same $4.8 billion facility was signed. However, the loan deal did not come through that time, at the Egyptian government's request.
The IMF mission arrived in Egypt on 2 April and met with top Egyptian officials including the prime minister, the central bank governor, ministers of finance and planning as well as leaders of several political parties. Discussions were based on an economic programme that Egypt prepared to secure the loan, which involves measures to tackle the budget deficit, including the diminution of government subsidies on a number of items like fuel and bread.
 Neither side said why there had been no agreement, but analysts said the ruling Muslim Brotherhood did not want to risk unpopular measures that could hit poor and middle-income Egyptians before parliamentary elections expected from October.
I don't think they will do any meaningful reform before the elections. That's the bottom line," said Samir Radwan. As the first finance minister after the overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Radwan negotiated a $3.2 billion IMF loan with fewer conditions at the time, but the military council that ruled Egypt then vetoed it. Since then, foreign reserves have more than halved to the critically low level of $13.4 billion, the Egyptian pound has lost about 10 percent against the dollar, tourism and investment have withered and the country faces fuel shortages and power cuts. An IMF programme could help stabilise the economy in the rocky transition to democracy, unlocking up to $15 billion in aid and investment to improve a dismal business climate.
Egypt secured $5 billion in stopgap financial support from Arab allies Qatar and Libya last week, removing some of the sense of urgency about obtaining the IMF loan. Economists said the government could muddle through for several months with funding from Arab sources, but only an IMF agreement would restore business confidence and investment.
By contrast Tunisia, where the ousting of dictator Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011 helped inspire the Egyptian uprising in what became known as the Arab Spring, is set to sign a $1.78 billion loan deal with the IMF on Tuesday, a government source in Tunis told Reuters. The IMF and the international community want to help but are really frustrated that Egypt isn't doing as much as it should to help itself," said Angus Blair, chairman of the Signet Institute, an economic think-tank for the Middle East and North Africa region. "I expect there is significant frustration."

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Israel extends Citizens Law that puts severe restrictions on Palestinians' right to live together with spouses from abroad

Tjhe Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu decided unanimously on Sunday to extend the Citizenship Law restricting the "family reunification" of Israeli citizens with foreign partners for an additional year. The law denies entry or living permits to partners who are considered a security threat, among them Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, and citizens of 'enemy countries'.
The law affects mainly Israeli Arab citizens and their families from the West Bank, East-Jerusalem and Gaza. Is is estimated that at least a 100.000 persons are affected. 
The proposal to extend the law was submitted by Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar, and was formulated based on an opinion of the internal security service Shin Bet regarding the risks concerning partners from the Gaza Strip.
Israel generally grants citizenship to spouses of Israelis in a gradual process. A 2002 temporary order excluded Palestinian spouses from these processes and barred them from becoming Israeli citizens.The law was extended several times since then and in 2008 the geographic jurisdiction of the law was expanded, making it applicable to spouses from Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq as well as other areas on which the government was free to decide.
The organization Adalah for minority rights in Israel; and the Association for Civil Rights in  Israel petitioned the High Court, but this ruled in a 6-5 decision on 12 January 2012, that it is 'the constitutional right of couples to live together, but that that this does not necessarily require that they make their home in Israel'. The majority ruled that even if the law did harm constitutional rights such as the right to equality, the infringement was proportional and not in conflict with Israel's Basic Laws, the set of legislation with constitutional standing. 
The new extension of the law was sharply criticized by Zahava Gal-On, the leader of the leftist Meretz Party. She said that the decision placed "draconian restrictions on Israeli Arab citizens' right to marry," and called the designation of all Palestinians as a security threat "racist" and discriminatory.

Palestinian official Saeb Erekat called the law "racist" and an attempt to "distort the Palestinian social fabric and force the displacement of Palestinian families." He called on the international community to “seriously examine the pattern of Israeli policies contributing to a situation of apartheid and to look into the wider effects and implications of the Israeli government’s precondition of being recognized as a Jewish State.

Another execution in Saudi Arabia

Saudi authorities on Sunday beheaded a citizen in the western city of Medina after he was convicted of shooting dead another man, the interior ministry said.
Sultan bin Rashid al-Mutairi had been found guilty of using a machinegun to kill Mused bin Nayer al-Mutairi after a dispute between the two, the ministry said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency. His beheading brings to 34 the number of people executed in Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the year, according to an AFP tally. In 2012, the kingdom executed 76 people, according to AFP.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Inhabitants West Bank village Bil'ín are angry at FC Barcelona

The footbal club FC Barcelona plans to play an exhibition game in Israel's national stadium in Tel Aviv, on July 31st, 2013.  Eleven young men from the West Bank village Bil'in show what they think of that plan. I suppose that they agree with the defeiniotion of  the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) that declared: Cultural events and projects involving Palestinians and/or Arabs and Israelis that promote “balance” between the “two sides” in presenting their respective narratives, as if on par, or are otherwise based on the false premise that the colonizers and the colonized, the oppressors and the oppressed, are equally responsible for the “conflict,” are intentionally deceptive, intellectually dishonest and morally reprehensible.
Photo by guest photographer Hamdi Abi Rahme/ Activestills.org  (10.4.2013)

Saudi kingdom beheads 32nd convict of the year 2013

Saudi Arabia beheaded one of its citizens Wednesday in the eastern province of Qatif after he was convicted of murdering a fellow Saudi, the interior ministry said. Ali Al-Saeedi shot dead Ali Abdelhay during a dispute, said the statement published by the official SPA news agency.
The execution takes to 32 the number of people put to death in Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the year, according to an AFP count.
In 2012, the kingdom executed 76 people, according to an AFP tally based on official figures. The US-based Human Rights Watch put the number at 69.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Family feud cause for sectarian clash in Egyptian town of Khosous that killed five

KhosousPeople walk in front of a burnt house after clashes in Al-Khosous in Qalyubiya governorate (Reuters).

 Priest Suriel of the Mar Girgis Church in Khosous has said the sectarian clashes that have rocked the Qalyubiya Governorate town and claimed five lives were rooted in a dispute between a Christian and a Muslim family dating back three months.
“The problem was resolved, and then renewed [again] when a group of Salafis harassed a Coptic woman,” Suriel said. “Some sheikhs incited against Copts and the church in public at mosques. Security troops arrived late, and clashes took place in their presence,” he added.
Several masked assailants also reportedly burned the Mar Girgis nursery, as well as a Baptist church, several stores and a home belonging to Copts.
The deadly clashes that erupted in Qaloubia Saturday between groups of Muslim and Christian teenagers followed the latter allegedly painting offensive drawings on the gates of an Al-Azhar institution in the town, MENA news agency reported.
The situation further escalated when someone drew a gun and fired into the air, killing one boy with a stray bullet, Reuters reported. In the aftermath of the violence, 15 people were arrested and the town tightly controlled by police forces.

Update Fresh clashes erupted on Sunday when hundreds of angry Copts came to the funeral service at St. Mark's Cathedral, chanting "With our blood and soul we will sacrifice ourselves for the cross". Some also shouted slogans during the ceremony denouncing President Mohamed Mursi for failing to protect Christians.

After an emotional church service, where relatives of the dead wept, young Christians chanted anti-government slogans and started hurling rocks at police officers outside the cathedral, a Reuters reporter at the scene said. Some protesters, believed to be Copts, smashed six private cars and set two on fire, prompting an angry reaction from Muslims living in the neighborhood, who threw home-made petrol bombs and stones at them, a witness said.
The Christians chanted slogans provoking the residents," said Ahmed Mahmoud, a Muslim resident. "Then the clashes started, they threw stones at each other and they (Christians) lit up a fire and they shot at us with cartridge (birdshot) guns."
But Remon Wageh, a church worker, blamed what he called radical Muslims for the violence. "The minute the Christians loaded the coffins into cars after the service, a group of bearded radicals threw rocks at us," he said. ''The police just stood by watching, doing nothing," he said. "They protected the radicals who were hiding behind a line of officers in the street outside the cathedral."
The state news agency MENA said that one person died and that 84 were wounded. Duringh the fighting. Police used birdshot and teargas to disperse the crowd. But most onlookers agreed that the police came much too late in action and initially did nothing to protect the Christians that left the cathedral from attacks.  

April 6: Anniversary or a new start?

Clashes went on untill late Saturday night at the High Court in Cairo (Photo: Dan Tookey/ Ahram Online).

The April 6 Movement, one of the movements that were instrumental in organizing the beginning of the January 25 revolution in Egypt, yesterday celebrated its fifth anniversary. Zeinobia, one of my favorite Egyptian bloggers, wrote the following lines full of hope for the occasion  (However, the demonstrations ended in clashes with the securioty forces - see for that below)   
Today is April 6 , it is the anniversary of a great political and social event that many believe to be the real introduction for 25 January Revolution : The April 6 Strike in Mahalla and rest of Egypt especially in Cairo.
Today the April 6th Youth movement is celebrating this day with its two fronts in its own way : Protesting against President Morsi and the Muslim brotherhood. In another words to bring down the regime once again.
In Cairo and Giza there will be at least four rallies organized by April 6 : Shubra roundabout and Siyada Zeinab square “Cairo” and Mostafa Mahmoud square and Imbaba “Giza”. I do not know to where these rallies will head up till now. Most probably to Tahrir square. These rallies should start at 4 PM but from what I see in Cairo the April 6th Youth Movement members are starting early and are having small stands in different areas whether in Downtown at the Stock market or the presidential palace.
There will be other rallies in other governorates and cities like in Alexandria,Damietta,Mansoura,Suez and Mahalla.
Other parties and movements are participating in the rallies too like Free Egyptians Party.
The main demands of these rallies according to the statement of the movement issued on Thursday is to dismiss this government, to dismiss the prosecutor general, to release all the detainees of peaceful protesting and political opinion, and to restructure the Ministry of the Interior.
Egypt Independent reported on Sunday that:
At least 44 people were injured in clashes that took place in Cairo, Fayoum and Gharbiya Governorates during protests called by the April 6 Youth Movement, the Ministry of Health announced on Sunday. Violence broke out between security forces and protesters in several places, including in front of the High Court in Cairo. State-run news agency MENA quoted the ministry’s director for emergency care, Khaled al-Khatib, as saying that 19 of the injuries that took place in Cairo occurred at the court. On Sunday clam returned to Cairo, and also at the Mahalla Police Station, Shoun Square and Bahr Street in the city of Mahalla, which was rocked by similar protests after protesters reportedly tried to break into the police station with rocks and Molotov cocktails and police responded with tear gas.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Saudi Arabia is kicking out Yemenis in their thousands

Picture loading...
Angry Yemenis gather in front of the Saudi embassy in Yemen's capital Sanaa to protest against the treatment of Yemeni workers in Saudi Arabia. (Photo Reuters) 

Thousands of Yemeni workers have been expelled from Saudi Arabia after it imposed new labour constraints affecting millions of expatriates in the oil-rich kingdom, an official said on Tuesday.
The new regulations introduced by the Saudi labour ministry aim to reduce the number of foreign workers to create jobs for millions of unemployed Saudis.
"Thousands of Yemenis had to leave Saudi Arabia. They were victims of an arbitrary application of the new regulations," a Yemeni government official told AFP.
He said workers saw their residency permits torn into pieces by Saudi government representatives.
Under the new rules, foreigners are allowed to work only for their legal sponsors in the kingdom while their spouses cannot take up jobs.
Many foreigners enter Saudi Arabia on the sponsorship of a Saudi national but end up working for others, or set up their own businesses.
Around one million Yemenis live in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, transferring around $4 billion annually to their impoverished nation, according to non-official estimates.
Their return from Saudi Arabia "could harm stability in Yemen" warned Yemeni laureate of Nobel prize for winner Tawakkol Karman in a written statement to AFP.
She urged Saudi Arabia to open up again to Yemenis by removing restrictions on movement between the two countries imposed in 1990 as a punishment to Yemen which sides with Iraq following its invasion of Kuwait.
Sanaa formed a ministerial commission last week tasked with working with Saudi authorities to soften the impact of the new rules, the official said.
Yemen already faces an economic crisis exacerbated by political instability and poor security.

Hamas confirms reelection of Khaled Meshaal

Hamas on Tuesday officially confirmed its reelection of Khaled Meshaal as head of the movement, drawing a cautious welcome from the rival Fatah movement. The Shura Council held a meeting in Cairo and during a late-night Monday vote "renewed confidence in the political bureau, headed by Khaled Meshaal," the movement said.
Meshaal's  reelection was welcomed as a positive step by a senior member of President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement. "Mashaal is a pragmatic person and may be more malleable than others in Hamas," Fatah Central Committee member Mahmud Alul told Voice of Palestine radio. "This may help... to achieve reconciliation," he said, referring to efforts to bridge years of rivalry between the two Palestinian movements.
Meshaal is seen as a pragmatic leader. In recent years he has modified his position adopting an implicit acceptance of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, although Tel Aviv has remained guarded.
Following speculation he would be forced aside by the movement's powerful Gaza leadership, Mashaal himself said last year he would not seek a new term. But after the regional turmoil sparked by the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, the thinking shifted, and Meshaal was seen as best-placed to guide the movement, because of his extensive contacts in the Arab world, another Hamas official said. Mukhaimer Abu Saada, a politics professor at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, agreed. "Arab and regional changes were the fundamental reason for Meshaal changing his mind about candidacy, and for his victory," he told AFP.
Meshaal has used the freedom of movement that is denied to Hamas leaders in Gaza to criss-cross the Arab and Muslim world, raising the profile of the Islamist movement which seized control of the coastal enclave from forces loyal to Abbas six years ago.
Hamas sources said the Shura Council had decided to appoint two deputies who would work under Meshaal -- Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniyeh who would be responsible for issues within the Palestinian territories, and Moussa Abu Marzouq who would handle all external issues.
Meshaal, who was born in the West Bank but went into exile as a child,  was propelled to the movement's leadership in 2004 after Israel assassinated Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his successor Abdelaziz al-Rantissi in two deadly strikes on Gaza.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Plans for Jewish museum in Cologne around excavations contested by local opposition

Excavations in the centre of Cologne.

After long being sidelined for Roman excavations, an archaeological dig in western Germany has unearthed myriad traces of daily life in one of Europe's oldest and largest Jewish communities.
From ceramic dishes and tools to toys, animal bones and jewelry, some 250,000 artifacts have so far shed light on various periods in 2,000 years of the city of Cologne's history, the AFP news agency reported.
But plans to display the findings, discovered since 2007 by head archaeologist Sven Schuette's team at the 32,800 square-foot (10,000 square-meter) city centre dig, in a new museum have proved divisive.

From the 10th to 12th centuries, Cologne, today Germany's fourth-largest city, was one of Europe's biggest cities, even ahead of Paris and London, with about 50,000 inhabitants. Its prosperous Jewish community numbered nearly 1,000 at its height.
On Hebrew-inscribed fragments of slate, aspects of daily life from the Middle Ages have intriguingly come to light via school children's teachings, rules and regulations, a bawdy knight's tale and even a bakery's customer list, AFP reported.
The history of the city's Jewish quarter spans 1,000 years, from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages, and far from being closed-off, it was open and adjoined the Roman governor's imposing palace and later the city hall. The first traces of Jewish life date from the year 321, the Jewish paper Juedische Allgemeine reported. Two events finally sounded the death knell for the Jewish quarter – a crusader massacre in 1096, followed by its eventual annihilation in 1349 when the Christians made the Jews the scapegoat for a black plague epidemic.
Archaeologists hope to see their treasures on display in the new museum by 2017.
"It won't be a so-called ghetto museum limited to presenting religious artifacts but a museum tracing this quarter's daily life, its integration in to the Christian city, with the positive and negative aspects," Schuette told the news agency.
According to the Juedische Allgemeine there is a decision to build the museum for an amount of 52 million euro as off October 2012. But the project has its detractors and opponents. The opposition conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) on the local council have attacked the plan over its cost and condemned as "madness" spending this amount when the city is already deeply in debt. "Cologne cannot allow itself to build a new museum," leading local CDU politician Volker Meertz said, also questioning how it would stand out from the Jewish museum in Berlin. Some 2,800 people have signed a broad-based petition against the museum.

Kuwait executes three men

Reuters reports that Kuwait executed three men on Monday who had been convicted of murder. They were the first to be executed in this state since 2007, the Kuwaiti news agency KUNA reported.
The daily Al-Qabas (Arabic) reported on Sunday that the three were a Pakistani, a Saudi and a stateless man, a so called 'bidun'. The three were executed by hanging at the Central Prison, KUNA said. Authorities had invited journalists from Kuwaiti publications to witness the executions.
The last recorded case of the death penalty being carried out in Kuwait was six years ago when a Pakistani man was executed for drug trafficking, according to Amnesty International.

Insulting the president?

Dr Bassem Youssef  is an Egyptian satirist who, with his tv-program 'Al-Birnamig' copied more or less the concept of "The Daily Show" of the American Jon Stewart. On Sunday he was summoned to the public prosecutor's office after complaints that he insulted the Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi, and religion. This is the program in which he allegedly did so. Judge for yourself.  (Youssef was released on bail. He had to pay  LE 15.000, about $ 2000).