Monday, October 19, 2015

AP: death toll at last month's hajj disaster was three times higher than the Saudis admitted

The crush and stampede that struck the hajj last month in Saudi Arabia killed at least 2,121 pilgrims, a new Associated Press tally showed Monday, after officials in the kingdom met to discuss the tragedy.The toll keeps rising from the Sept. 24 disaster outside Mecca as individual countries identify bodies and work to determine the whereabouts of hundreds of pilgrims still missing. The official Saudi toll of 769 people killed and 934 injured has not changed since Sept. 26, and officials have yet to address the discrepancy.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdul Aziz, who is also the kingdom's interior minister, oversaw a meeting late Sunday about the disaster in Mina, according to the official Saudi Press Agency. The agency's report did not mention any response to the rising death toll.

Gamal al-Ghitani 1945-2015 Gamal al Ghitani.

The famous Egyptian author Gamal al-Ghitany died Sunday in al-Galaa Military Hospital in Cairo. He was 70. Ghitani had been in a coma for two months after he suffered a heart attack in August.
Al-Ghitani was one of Egypt’s best known twentieth-century novelists, author of the well known novel Zayni Barakat, and editor in chief of  one of the leading Arabic literary newspapers, Akhbar Al-Adab, a newspaper he founded in 1993. He remained its editor in chief till 2011.
Al-Ghitani was born in Sohag, in upper Egypt, on 9 May 1945 to a poor family that later emigrated to the Gamaliyya neighbourhood in Islamic Cairo, a neighbourhood that - like in the books of his colleague and friend Naguib Mahfouz - played an important role in many of his books.  He started as a child as a carpetmaker and worked in one of the Khan el-Khalili factories in Cairo, but in 1969 he started his literary career with 'Papers of a Young Guy, who Lived a Thousand Years Ago'. The same year he found work at the news desk of the daily paper Akhbar el-Youm. During the October War of 1973 he worked as a war correspondent between the front lines.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Suicide bombers kill more than 100 at peaceful Kurdish, leftist rally in Ankara

(Photo AFP)

Updated. Twin explosions caused by two suicide bombers killed more than 100 people at a rally of pro-Kurdish and leftist activists outside Ankara's main train station on Saturday. Witnesses said the two explosions happened seconds apart shortly after 10.00 a.m. as hundreds gathered for a planned march to protest over a conflict between Turkish security forces and Kurdish militants in the southeast. There were no claims of responsibility for the attack.
Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu told a news conference that 86 people had been killed and 186 wounded, 28 of whom were in intensive care. The death toll could rise further. 
Turkey has been in a heightened state of alert since starting a "synchronized war on terror" in July, including air strikes against Islamic State fighters in Syria and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) bases in northern Iraq. It has also rounded up hundreds of suspected Kurdish and Islamist militants at home.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Nobel Preace Prize for Tunisian ''Dialogue Quartet''

Tunisia's National Dialogue Quartet won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for helping build democracy in the birthplace of the Arab Spring, an example of peaceful transition in a region otherwise struggling with violence and upheaval.The quartet of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA), the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH), and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers was formed in the summer of 2013. It helped support the democratization process when it was in danger of collapsing, the Norwegian Nobel committee said in its citation.
"This is a great joy and pride for Tunisia, but also a hope for the Arab World," UGTT chief Hussein Abassi told Reuters. "It's a message that dialogue can lead us on the right path. This prize is a message for our region to put down arms and sit and talk at the negotiation table."
With a new constitution, free elections and a compromise politics between Islamist and secular leaders, Tunisia has been held up as a model of how to make the transition to a democracy from dictatorship.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Daesh destroys famous Arch of Triumph in Palmyra

Arch of Triumph, Palmyra, Syria
(Photo Reuters)
Islamic State militants have blown up the Arch of Triumph, a major monument in the 2,000-year-old Roman city of Palmyra, Syria's antiquities chief said on Sunday, after they destroyed two ancient temples at the central Syrian site in recent months.
Maamoun Abdulkarim told Reuters that sources in Palmyra had confirmed that the Arch of Triumph, a jewel in the exquisite collection of ruins in the oasis city, had been blown up.
Islamic State militants have blown up temples at the Roman-era UNESCO World Heritage site, which it has controlled since capturing Palmyra from Syrian government forces in May and mined other monuments and historic buildings. The group considers the buildings sacrilegious.
"It's as though there is a curse that has befallen this city and I expect only news that will shock us. If the city remains in their hands the city is doomed," Abdulkarim told Reuters.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Bahrain tries to improve tainted image witn the help of Israeli agency that specializes in defaming Arabs

New campaign to promote Bahrain 
''This is Bahrain'' 

Bahrain is involved in a campaign to improve its image that has been badly damaged by the bloody way it suppressed the demonstration for more democracy by the (mainly  Shi'ite) opposition. A 200-member strong ''This is Bahrain'' delegation is currently visiting Washington and New York and is hosting a conference and exhibition in each city  to highlight Bahrain’s multi-cultural society and promote peace, tolerance and co-existence.  The events and visits are organised in collaboration with the American Chamber of Commerce Bahrain and follow similar roadshows in London, Berlin, Brussels and Paris. 
Bahrain Federation of Expatriate Associations secretary-general Betsy Mathieson, who is leading the “This is Bahrain” delegation to the US, said “We are set to work closely together to change negative media perception of the situation in Bahrain and to use the Bahrain model of centuries-old religious freedom, peaceful co-existence and mutual respect in the fight against global terrorism.” said Ms Mathieson.
In order to promote this and to ''correct'' the negative image that Bahrain suffered ''from negative media reports'' the delegation has sought the cooperation of ..... the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which, according to Ms Mathieson '' does an outstanding job on many fronts.”