Blog archive: All

  • 12th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Arabist blog makes some interesting observations about jihadist groups in North Africa and elsewhere who have recently been persuaded to renounce violence. It comments: "Even if they eschew violence, the ideology of these groups remains extremely radical, intolerant, bigoted ..." I...
  • 11th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The idea that suicide bombers are insane or religious fanatics is challenged by some controversial new research that has been reported over that last few days in a variety of publications, from  Yale Global in the US to the Daily Star in Lebanon and the Daily Times in...
  • 11th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    There's a rumpus in Egypt over reports that police in various parts of the country have arrested more than 150 people for publicly breaking the fast during Ramadan. Unlike some Muslim countries, Egypt has no specific law against fast-breaking and the wave of arrests seems to be the work of some...
  • 9th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The head of Egypt’s first independent trade union, Kamal Abu Eita, was questioned by a prosecutor yesterday and could face charges “of disseminating false information and defaming the reputation of the country’s state-controlled union leaders”. Abu Eita was one of the founders of the...
  • 9th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Israeli human rights organisation, B’Tselem, today issues itsfindings on the number of Palestinians and Israelis killed during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. The figures, which it says are the result of “months of meticulous investigation and cross-checks” sharply conflict with those...
  • 8th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Debate about the possible appointment of Egypt’s culture minister,  Farouk Hosni, as head of Unesco has centred mainly on his remarks last May about burning Israeli books (for which he has since apologised). But his appointment is also controversial in Egypt, for different reasons...
  • 8th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Socotra, Yemen’s exotic island outpost in the Indian Ocean, witnessed its first-ever riot on Sunday when hundreds of people took to the streets protesting about “an acute shortage of wheat and flour”. The Yemen Post says they hurled stones at one of the Economic Corporation's...
  • 7th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A few more details have emerged about the case of Hassan Shehata, whose arrest I wrote about last month in connection with the harassment of Egypt's tiny Shia minority. AP reports that the prominent cleric and 12 others have been accused of receiving funds from Iran for...
  • 7th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    A letter from President Obama confirming US support "for the unity and security of Yemen" was delivered to President Salih on Saturday, according to the official news agency, Saba. The letter allegedly promised "an initiative to support Yemen to face all its development obstacles and...
  • 6th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    While the Houthi conflict dominates the news from Yemen there’s a risk of other issues being ignored. One that certainly should not be ignored is corruption, and last week Alistair Lyon wrote an excellent report about it for Reuters AlertNet. As Lyon notes, “Corruption is rampant in...
  • 5th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    Hot on the heels of the Human Rights Watch report aboutdiscrimination against Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia, I received this photo of a Shia Ismaili mosque in Khobar. Note the concrete blocks placed in front of the entrance. According to my source, security forces...
  • 5th September 2009
    By
    Brian Whitaker
    The Yemeni government announced yesterday that it "does not view any objection" to suspending military operations against the Houthi rebels if the rebels will do the same. The rebels appear to have responded positively. The "suspension" offer came into effect at 9am on Friday,...

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