Blog archive: All

  • 4th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Discrimination against Shia Muslims in the Sunni-dominated countries of the Middle East tends to attract less attention in the west than prejudice against Christians, Jews and Baha'is. Politics plays a part in that, of course, because of Shia Islam's associations with Iran. I recently wrote...
  • 4th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    After going off-line for several hours yesterday "for maintenance", the Menassat website is back – but without the announcement of staff sackings posted by earlier by "Robin Hood". There's one new article on the front page, about the presidential succession in Egypt. A...
  • 3rd September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The case of a Lebanese financier who went bankrupt after investing hundreds of millions of other people’s money is sending shockwaves through Hizbullah and Lebanon’s Shia community. Salah Ezzedine is thought to have lost more than $1 billion – which  is affecting “thousands of...
  • 3rd September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A strange announcement has appeared on the Beirut-based Menassat website under the by-line “Robin Hood of Arabia”. It seems that all nine editorial staff were sacked at less than 24 hours’ notice, pending the site’s closure. Menassat was set up to promote free speech and improve the...
  • 2nd September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Following the imprisonment of an Egyptian poet for “insulting” President Mubarak (reported here in July), another Arab poet – this time in Jordan – is preparing himself for jail. Islam Samhan was arrested last October and charged him with insulting the prophets because of Quranic references...
  • 2nd September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The UN refugee agency issued a new warning yesterday about the situation around Saada city in northern Yemen where fighting between government forces and rebels has displaced more than 35,000 people during the last three weeks. "The situation is deteriorating by the day," UNHCR...
  • 1st September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Today is the 40th anniversary of the revolution that brought the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamarihyya (officially abbreviated to the Great Splaj) into being – which makes Col Gadafy the longest-surviving Arab leader (a year longer than Sultan Qaboos in Oman). On a visit to...
  • 1st September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Naâma Asfari, a Western Sahara human rights activist, has been jailed for four months in Morocco following a row with a policeman about his keychain. Asfari was stopped at a checkpoint outside Tantan on August 14. An officer noticed a flag of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic(...
  • 31st August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Nine tribesmen who were "fighting alongside the Yemeni army" have been killed in a mortar attack by the Houthi rebels in northern Yemen, tribal sources told AFP on Sunday. Sixteen other fighters from the Hashed tribe (the largest tribe in Yemen) were wounded on Saturday. These are the...
  • 31st August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Bikya Masr news website reports yet another religious clash in Egypt – this time between Muslims and Christians. A number of Christians had camped at Mitt Damsis in the northern delta, for celebrations to mark the birth of St George. Several dozen Muslims attacked the...
  • 31st August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Yemeni government appears to have succeeded in blocking – at least temporarily – the launch of a new satellite TV channel linked to the opposition. Suhail TV had been due to start broadcasts aimed at Yemenis from the beginning of Ramadan, but has not done so.According to the Yemen...
  • 30th August 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    To the surprise of nobody, President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali has  formally declared his candidacy in Tunisia’s presidential election on October 25. This will give him another five-year term, taking him up to the age of 77. In 2004, he secured more than 94% of the vote against three...

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