Thursday, September 24, 2015

More than 700 pelgrims killed in haj catastrophe

(Photo AP)

At least 717 pilgrims from around the world were killed on Thursday in a crush at the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi authorities said, in the worst disaster to strike the annual haj pilgrimage for 25 years.At least 863 others were injured. Saudi King Salman said he had ordered a review of haj plans after the disaster, in which two large groups of pilgrims arrived together at a crossroads in Mina, a few kilometers east of Mecca, on their way to performing the "stoning of the devil" ritual at Jamarat.
Thursday's disaster was the worst to occur at the pilgrimage since July 1990, when 1,426 pilgrims suffocated in a tunnel near Mecca. Both incidents occurred on Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), Islam's most important feast and the day of the stoning ritual.
Photographs published on the Twitter feed of Saudi civil defense on Thursday showed pilgrims lying on stretchers while emergency workers in high-visibility jackets lifted them into an ambulance.

Eid Said!

I wish my Muslim readers an Eid al-Adha said and mubarak.
Selling cattle for Eid on the market in Nablus.

Egypt's president Sisi pardons some controversial political prisoners

via Free Sanaa Facebook page
Sana Seif and Yara Sallam, now freed, had been convicted to three years in 2014. 

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi announced on Wednesday the pardoning of 100 prisoners, including Al Jazeera's television journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed and some prominent youth activists who were charged with violating the protest law.
The pardon, which also includes sick and elderly prisoners, is coinciding with the Muslim feast Eid Al-Adha. It also comes ahead of El-Sisi’s visit to New York on Thursday, where he is scheduled to attend the United Nations’ 70th General Assembly.
"This newest batch of youth pardoning comes as part of an initiative, launched by the president in December 2013, to release groups of youths," Egypt's presidency spokesman Alaa Youssef said.
Amnesty International Egypt welcomed the decision via their Facebook page, adding that they are “hoping that the decision stems from the authorities’ conviction of the innocence of those imprisoned and is not related to the Egyptian president’s upcoming visit to [the United States].”

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Mexico want explanation from Egypt after army killed eight tourists

Mexico's foreign minister headed for Cairo Tuesday with relatives of eight tourists mistakenly killed by Egyptian security forces to demand an urgent inquiry into what she branded an "unjustified attack". Claudia Ruiz Massieu said she wanted answers on the attack that killed 12 people.The bodies of six more Mexicans killed in Sunday's strike were identified Tuesday, raising the number of dead from the Latin American nation to eight .Six other wounded Mexicans remain in stable condition at Cairo's Al-Fouad Hospital.
Egypt said the tourists entered a restricted area in the vast Western Desert and were "mistakenly" killed as security forces chased jihadists who had abducted and beheaded an Egyptian they said worked for the army.Ruiz Massieu said Monday that six Mexican survivors told their ambassador they had "suffered an aerial attack with bombs launched by a plane and helicopters" after stopping for a roadside lunch."We face a terrible loss of human lives and an unjustified attack that obligates us to make the protection of our citizens the priority," Ruiz Massieu said before departing accompanied by relatives of four of those killed and doctors.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Tuesday called his Mexican counterpart Enrique Pena Nieto to say Egypt "stood alongside the victims' families" and was giving "all necessary help" to the wounded, a statement said. The incident has proven embarrassing to the Egyptian security forces which regularly claim to have killed dozens of militants in air strikes, tolls that are difficult to independently verify.
 Hassan al-Nahla, head of Egypt's tour guides union, said the tourist group had received all the required permits and set off with a police escort from Cairo to Bahariya oasis, roughly 350 kilometers (220 miles) away.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Shana Tovah

I wish my Jewish readers a good and hopefully sweet 5776 - שנה טובה
Yankel Adler (1875-1949)  - Composition

Egypt's El-Sisis fires cabinet

Sherif Ismail
Sherif Ismail
The Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday asked Oil Minister Sherif Ismail to form a new cabinet within one week after the government submitted its resignation, a statement from the presidency said. The old cabinet in the meantime will take on as a caretaker government.
It was not immediately clear why the government resigned but officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity that Sisi had been unhappy with the performance of several ministries. The announcement comes almost one week after the authorities arrested Egypt's agriculture minister over corruption allegations. There had also been uncofirmed media reports that other ministers in Mahlab's cabinet might also be investigated on corruption charges.Following the agriculture minister's resignation, media reports suggested that other ministers might be replaced.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

More Gulf troops move into Yemen as coalition increase its air attacks on Sana'a

Destroyed buildings in the Yemeni capital Sana'a. This was the result of earlier bombardments on 6 September 2015 (Photo via Twitter). 

Saudi-led warplanes pounded rebel positions in the Yemeni capital on Tuesday, an AFP correspondent said, reporting powerful explosions across Sanaa. Witnesses said targets included the police academy and the headquarters of the security services, both in the heart of the capital which has been controlled by the Houthi rebels since September last year. Overnight strikes also hit the Sanaa residences of Houthi leaders, witnesses said.
The strikes followed reports that Gulf Arab members of the Saudi-led coalition had sent thousands of heavily armed reinforcements to Yemen after a Houthi missile attack killed 60 coalition soldiers on Friday. Forty-five soldiers from the United Arab Emirates' and five troops from Bahrain have been killed on Friday when a Houthi missile hit a weapons storage depot near their position in the province of Maarib, about 120km east of the capital Sanaa, the UAE state news agency WAM reported late on Friday. Lateron it was reported that also 10 Saudi troops were killed. Officials from the Houthi media office in Sanaa confirmed a Soviet-era Tochka missile was fired at the site.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

IS destroys the 'centerpiece' of the famous ruins at Palmyra

The Greaco-Roman temple of Bel at Palmyra before it was destroyed. 
The most famed temple in Syria's Palmyra has been blown up, the United Nations said, showing satellite images of the damage as the Islamic State group presses a campaign to tear down the treasured heritage site.
A powerful blast in the ancient city had raised fears the militants had escalated their push to rid Syria of what they view as un-Islamic artifacts after they destroyed the smaller Baal Shamin temple last week."We can confirm destruction of the main building of the Temple of Bel as well as a row of columns in its immediate vicinity," the UN training and research agency UNITAR said, providing satellite images from before and after the explosion on Sunday.The 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel was the centerpiece of Palmyra's famed ruins and one of the most important relics of the heritage site, which has been described by the UN's cultural arm UNESCO as of "outstanding universal value.