Libya’s interim government on Sunday ordered the breakup of all militias that do not fall under its authority, and demanded that those militias pull out of military compounds and public property within 48 hours.
The order came in response to an upwelling of public anger at the militias after an armed group assaulted a United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi earlier this month, killing Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Exasperated by the interim government’s failure to curb the militia brigades, thousands of civilians swarmed into the headquarters of several of them in Benghazi on Friday and forced their fighters to scatter — in effect, an angry mob demanding law and order.
David Kirkpatrick, “Government Issues Order to Disband Libya Forces,” New York Times, September 23, 2012
You know Israel is doing something right when it manages to put both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas on the PR defensive. And it evidently did exactly that with last week’s conference in New York to raise awareness of Jewish refugees from Arab lands.
Yesterday, Hamas lambasted the conference as a “dangerous, unprecedented move,” clearly outraged by anything that could undermine the false idea Palestinians have successfully implanted in the world’s consciousness for decades: that they are the only refugees, the only victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict; hence the world should grant them endless sympathy while treating Israel as the villain.
But Hamas’s pathetic attempt to rewrite history — it claimed the Jews “secretly migrated from Arab countries” before Israel’s 1948 War of Independence and were responsible for the Palestinians’ displacement during that war, whereas in truth, most arrived only after 1948, driven by persecution in their former homes – is far less interesting than the response of Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran PA legislator, member of the PLO’s executive committee and former minister, who once served as spokeswoman of the Palestinian negotiating team and currently functions as a PA envoy-at-large.
In an article published in several Arab media outlets, Ashrawi said that terming Jews from Arab lands “refugees” is a “deception and delusion,” because they “migrated to Israel, which is supposed to be their homeland.” And “if Israel is their homeland, then they are not ‘refugees;’ they are emigrants who returned either voluntarily or due to a political decision.”
What makes this so interesting isn’t just that this argument only works if Israel is in fact the Jewish homeland – something the PA routinely denies, insisting instead that millennia of Jewish history are a fabrication and that Jews therefore have no rights in the land of Israel. Even more interesting is that the PA rejects this argument with regard to Palestinian refugees.
Though every serious peace plan has proposed resettling Palestinian refugees in the Palestinian state-to-be, the PA has consistently demanded that they relocate to Israel instead, saying that otherwise, they would remain refugees. Indeed, its ambassador to Lebanon has said a Palestinian state would even deny citizenship to refugees already living in its territory: They, too, would remain refugees.
By Ashrawi’s logic, what this means is that the Palestinian state won’t be the Palestinian homeland: If it were, then both refugees already in its territory and any who subsequently immigrated to it would cease to be refugees. Hence there would be no reason to demand that they relocate to Israel instead.
But if a Palestinian state won’t be the Palestinian homeland, what conceivable justification could there be for its existence? After all, the point of creating a Palestinian state is supposedly to give the Palestinians a homeland where they can run their own lives and cease to be dependent refugees; if it won’t accomplish that, why bother?
Ashrawi’s statement shouldn’t be dismissed as a mere slip of the tongue, because it reflects something opinion polls have long revealed: To many Palestinians, a Palestinian state really isn’t a longed-for homeland. It’s just a vehicle for destroying Israel.
Evelyn Gordon, “Ashrawi’s Revealing Statement on Refugees,” Commentary, September 24, 2012
Kuwait’s highest civilian court Tuesday rejected a government bid to rewrite the Gulf nation’s election rules, giving an apparent boost to the rising power of opposition groups led by Islamists.
The decision also further complicates the political showdowns in one of America’s most strategic Gulf military allies, where the Western-backed monarchy is facing mounting pressures from hardline Islamists and others seeking to impose more conservative policies.
“Kuwait court rejects government bid to overturn election law,” Associated Press, September 25, 2012
Official statistics show the average age that Iranian men marry has risen from 20 to 28 in the last three decades. Iranian women now typically become wives between 24 and 30, five years later than a decade ago, and perilously close to spinsterhood in this society.
Experts say the Iranian government has fretted over the trend because it sees delayed marriage as linked to loosening social mores. Young single people are a headache for authorities trying to maintain a religious state, who fear that the longer young adults are single, the more likely they are to indulge in premarital sex or other perceived vices.
Legalization of matchmaking websites, which many scholars doubt will alter the trend of delayed marriages, is being imagined as a way of fostering more traditional marriages. . . .
"These days, if a man has got a good car and a furnished apartment, he can have sex free of charge after a couple of times eating out in good restaurants," said Mohammad, 36. "So why should I bother myself to marry a girl?"
Ramin Mostaghim and Emily Alpert, “Can matchmaking websites help Iran with ‘marriage crisis’?”
Los Angeles Times, September 25, 2012
Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal sent out a call on Tuesday (September 25th) for terrorist groups to turn themselves in.
“Under the national reconciliation scheme, the state still wants to reach out to these people,” Sellal said in presenting his action plan to Parliament.
The new government, which was installed on September 3rd, is set to continue the same counter-terrorism policies. It is to maintain military operations in the field against armed extremists, while still reaching out to those who want to lay down their weapons.
Fidet Mansour, “Algerian prime minister backs reconciliation,” Magharebia, September 26, 2012
At least 500 protesters in the Gaza Strip have called for the overthrow of the ruling Hamas government in a rare demonstration triggered by the death of a three-year-old boy in a fire during a power outage.
Protesters in the Bureij refugee camp, where the boy's family live, called for Hamas to be toppled and chanted “The people want to down the regime” late on Tuesday night, echoing slogans adopted in Arab revolutions in neighboring countries. The police swiftly dispersed the crowd.
Demonstrators took to the streets as the boy's body was being moved to a hospital, saying they were protesting against the incompetent way Hamas ruled Gaza. Anger spilled over after the boy died and his infant sister suffered critical burns when a candle lit amid a power outage burnt their house down.
Anti-Hamas protests in Gaza, where power failures have left households with just six hours of electricity a day since February, are extremely rare. Three children were killed earlier in the year by similar fires during an outage. . . .
Hamas is sensitive to criticism and has looked on with concern as protests in the Israeli-occupied West Bank against high prices have spread in the past few weeks, fearing they may spill over into its own territory.
Hamas has banned protests, including any demonstrations calling for an end to divisions between it and Fatah.
On Tuesday, police in Gaza dispersed what they said was an unlicensed rally organized by dozens of women calling for unity between Gaza and the West Bank.
Nidal al-Mughrabi, “Boy’s death ignites rare anti-Hamas protests in Gaza,” Ma’an News Agency, September 26, 2012
It is a sordid tale: A 16-year-old girl is groped while walking along the street. She responds by spitting in her attacker’s face, vowing to take back her rights. He, in turn, guns her down with an automatic weapon.
That is what is alleged to have happened to Eman Mostafa two weeks ago in a small village in Upper Egypt’s Assiut Governorate. While details of the incident have only slowly trickled out, the monstrosity of the alleged crime suggests a frightening increase in gendered violence following a spate of well-publicized cases of harassment and assault in recent months.
The suspect, Ramadan Nasser Salem, is now in police custody after having fled for more than a week. In an interview on Al-Hayat TV channel Saturday, he denied the version of events offered by witnesses.
“I was riding my motorbike and I saw her,” he said. “I said hello, and she thought I was harassing her and started cursing at me and spat in my face. I mistakenly fired my gun, and a passer-by told me the bullet hit a wall. We thought the girl was afraid and fell on the ground, but then people told us that the bullet hit her. I never meant to kill her.”
Aaron Ross, “Harassment of women may be getting more violent, but activists are fighting back,” Egypt Independent, September 27, 2012
[I]t’s time we stop apologizing for our freedoms and appeasing hysterical mobs. Here’s what we should tell angry Muslims who can’t tolerate offensive speech:
“Respect works both ways. If you want the freedom to criticize others, you must respect the freedom of others to criticize you. Treating Islam differently would mean treating you like babies who throw temper tantrums. That’s insulting to Islam and to Muslims.
“We tolerate protest, but we have zero tolerance for violence. That applies to all peoples and all religions. Remember: The freedom to hurl an insult includes the freedom to ignore it. But if you want to dish it out, you must be ready to take it.”
David Suissa, “Taking on Islam,” Jewish Journal, September 27, 2012
The original Kurdish names of various towns in the East and the Southeast, which were Turkified in the past, will be restored as part of a new recommendation drafted by Parliament's Interior Affairs Commission.
The commission, which has been deliberating over a large number of requests for the restoration of Kurdish names, recently completed a draft bill and submitted it to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Yeni Şafak daily reported on Thursday. According to sources close to the prime ministry, all the cities and villages that are included in the bill will have their original names restored at the same time, as per the prime minister's request.
If the law passes, the province and city of Tunceli will be renamed Dersim, its original name which was changed in the late '30s following a brutal military campaign to suppress a supposed rebellion in the city, although historians have recently produced evidence indicating that there had been no uprising at all.
“Turkey to restore some Kurdish place names,” Today’s Zaman, September 28, 2012