Tuesday, November 29, 2011

“We reject marginalization” campaign led by Saudi men to support women in the election

Alarabiya.net English

Saudi men are taking the lead in raising women’s awareness on the electoral process.(File photo)
Saudi men are taking the lead in raising women’s awareness on the electoral process.(File photo)
Saudi men are taking the lead in raising women’s awareness on the electoral process by launching the first online campaign site “We reject marginalization” with an aim to supervise and monitor women’s participation in the upcoming municipal elections.

In a bid to create awareness on the voting procedure for women, the site features information on the electoral process and offers advice on matters related to voting and alerts readers of candidates’ campaigns.

The initiative is the brainchild of media graduate students at King Saud University who wanted to dispel the notion that Saudi men were opposed to women’s right to vote and was instead offering support on the electoral process.

They conduct free online seminars on the registration process and how to have effective campaigns. They also plan to launch a video service on their YouTube channel to make it broadly accessible to their targeted audience.
This initiative was created after King Abdulah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud issued directives in September giving women the right to vote and urging that they not be marginalized from society.

The project has been supervised by Dr. Abdullatif al-Awfi, media and international relations professor at King Saud University. The organizing team consists of qualified personnel of municipal election domain which assisted the students in converting their school project into a major media assistance tool.

Saudi women, who are required to be in the presence of a male guardian when participating in any form of public activity, welcomed the royal verdict as a valuable one, and are optimistic about more decisions that will empower them.

About 762 views were collected in a study survey conducted in Saudi Arabia for Nabd Al Arab program of Al Aan TV's by YouGov Siraj on October 22, to voice national views on reforms in the kingdom and on women’s rights.

The study shows that Saudi men, of 23 per cent anticipate women to take a “minor role” in the governmental election of 2015, while women thrive for a higher role. Still, both genders were in favor of women voting, at 73 and 71 per cent respectively.

However, Saudi women predict 27 women to be given seats on the Shoura Council, while men expected less than 15 seats, according to The National newspaper.

The presence of women in the Shoura Council will bring in vital changes to both the economy and the social fabric of society by including their input and opinion in the discourse on national development. Their participation will allow them to call for new policies and implement new strategies of their interests.

“Because we refuse to marginalize women in society in all roles that comply with sharia, we have decided, after deliberation with our senior ulama (clerics) and others, to involve women in the shoura council as members, starting from the next term at the consultative council which advises the monarchy on matters of public policy. Women will also be able to run as candidates in the municipal election and will even have a right to vote.” King Abdullah said in a speech at the Shoura Council in September.

A spokesman for “we reject marginalization” campaign, Yahya Al Zahrani told Al Hayat newspaper that “we have witnessed throughout our field experience on municipal elections that most participants lack essential methods that helps them increase their turnout voting. For this purpose, we adapted an orientation approach to facilitate easy and efficient methods for women to make their participation a successful one.”

“Our initial objective to the campaign is to make it widely recognized and acceptable by the general public so it can be integrated into the prevailing wisdom of the society. Throughout this approach we aim to change cultural behaviors and raise their awareness on the importance of both men and women taking part in the decision making process, he added.”

Women of different educational background have responded positively to the online initiative. Asma Abodi, who joined the group recently, wrote in her Facebook post that “this is the kind of partnership women needs.”

Another participant, Munerah al-Subaie said that sharing information is essential to the overall production and success of any project. She added that working women nationwide want to feel that men trust their capabilities and good attributes.

Racist rant video on London tram goes viral

Alarabiya.net English

A woman has been arrested after hurling racist abuse at passengers on a London tram after being caught on video. (Photo courtesy of YouTube)
A woman has been arrested after hurling racist abuse at passengers on a London tram after being caught on video. (Photo courtesy of YouTube)
A video of a woman onboard a London tram swearing and ranting racist abuse at other passengers, while voicing her disgust at Britain’s ethnic diversity has gone viral on the video sharing and social media sites.

The video, labeled “My tram experience,” shows a woman with a toddler sitting on her lap firing repeated expletives and racial slurs at passengers of ethnic minorities.

“What’s this?” she said, looking around the tram. “A load of f***ing black people and Polish.”
She screamed at the travellers: “get back to your own f***ing countries … My Britain is nothing now!”

A female passenger told the ranting woman to respect the children on board in an attempt to stifle her expletive rants. But the riled woman angrily pointed out that she herself was sitting with a young child on her lap.

She continued, questioning the same female passenger where she was from and if she was really British.

“Are you British?” she shouted. “You ain’t British, you’re black.”
The passenger gave an angry reply, saying she was British.
The shaky but coherent footage appeared to have been taken covertly by a passenger standing opposite the woman, most probably by a mobile phone camera.

On Monday, a 34-year-old woman was questioned by police on suspicion of a racially aggravated public-order offence. The woman was from South London’s Croydon area and is believed to match the description of the woman who had boarded the tram from Croydon to Wimbledon.

Before the arrest, a statement from a British Transport Police spokesperson read: ‘The video posted on YouTube and Twitter has been brought to our attention and our officers have launched an investigation.

“At present it is not entirely clear which tram stops the offence took place between and when it occurred. As a result we need anyone who witnessed this incident, or with any information that could assist our investigation ─ including the identity of the woman ─ to contact us.

“We will not tolerate racism in any form on the rail network and will do everything in our power to locate the person responsible.”

The video has racked up nearly 1.9 million views on YouTube, where it was first posted, and more than 65,000 comments so far, with many expressing dismay at her views and prompting debates on racial multiculturalism in Britain.

One commenter wrote: “This woman makes me sick, you will always find some people in every nation who are like parasites. That doesn’t mean you label all legal immigrants the same. She is ridiculous. Imagine the British economy without outsiders! I just hope this doesn’t tarnish the image of Brits as unthinking and prejudiced people. And yes, I pity her child.”

Another remarked: “About to welcome the world for London 2012 and this is the attitude of some of our citizens? A disgrace to our country.”

A new video emerged on Tuesday of a different woman, seemingly British, spouting racism on a train also to fellow passengers, who were speaking a foreign language.

“You’re in my country now, speak my (expletive) language!” she screamed at people sitting next to her.

Twitter users are encouraging the spread of the second video on social media sites so that it can be brought to the attention of the British police and for this woman to be traced.

South Sudanese children succumbing to preventable diseases

Alarabiya.net English

The United Nations estimates that one in seven children in South Sudan die before their fifth birthday. (Reuters)
The United Nations estimates that one in seven children in South Sudan die before their fifth birthday. (Reuters)
Nyaluak Elizabeth watches over her tiny baby son, after trekking for three hours to reach the remote clinic at Nyal, a rare medical outpost in South Sudan’s giant Sudd swamplands.

Flies buzz around his face, but baby Daniel’s eyes barely blink, while his tiny fist, squeezed tight shakes from the affects of an intense malarial fever.

“My baby had convulsions, he was being sick, coughing, and he wasn’t breast feeding,” Elizabeth said. Her son’s heart and kidney’s were failing when he was brought in.

In the world’s youngest nation, a land devastated by years of war, children face death from easily preventable diseases such as malaria. One in seven children here die before their fifth birthday, according to U.N. figures.
In this remote village, alongside one of the world’s largest freshwater marshes, the mosquito-borne disease hits with often deadly effect.

“It’s the main problem here,” said Amos Gichaba Oyaro, who heads the area’s crowded clinic, funded by the German aid agency Sign of Hope.

Elizabeth’s baby Daniel is lucky: after three days of treatment he is no longer on the critical list, and Oyaro is confident about his chances of survival.

But the clinic’s ward is crowded with other sick children. Four are suffering from the intense fever of malaria, which can easily kill without treatment.

When South Sudan won full independence from its civil-war era enemies in the north in July, the oil-rich but grossly impoverished land joined an unenviable club of states such as Afghanistan and Somalia at the bottom of the global rankings for health and social indicators.

Malaria is “hyper-endemic” here, according to the U.N., accounting for 40 percent of patient visits to health facilities, while some 80 percent of households do not have insecticide-treated nets, according to U.N. figures.

Massive efforts are being made to improve the lives of the impoverished people, but for villages like Nyal, cut off by road for much of the year during the rainy season, little has improved.

“If it rains, airplanes can come, but they go back without landing... the airstrip is not good,” Oyaro added.

As one of the least developed regions in Africa, South Sudan faces colossal challenges as it begins forging its way as a fully-fledged nation.

In Nyal, the marshes are also sources of diarrhea and schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease that can also kill without treatment.

And in a region with a desperate lack of health facilities, the small medical team here is often overwhelmed.

In the courtyard of the hospital, dozens of patients wait, many after walking for several hours for treatment.

“There are no other facilities in the area,” said Elizabeth, watching over her still sickly child.

Malaria not only threatens young children, it also complicates pregnancies.

“The biggest cause of miscarriage is malaria,” said Alex Ndoni, a nurse-midwife at the clinic.

However the drugs that can save the life of the mother can risk the health of the unborn child.

“We give lower dose of quinine...but we are sometimes in situations where we have to give drugs that can lead to miscarriage,” he explained.

Tunisian secular, Islamist students clash on campus

Alarabiya.net English

Protesters wearing the veil and bearded men wearing the Muslim tunic shouted “God Is Great”, facing other students responding “Islamists, Go Home” at the University of Manouba, west of Tunis. (Reuters)
Protesters wearing the veil and bearded men wearing the Muslim tunic shouted “God Is Great”, facing other students responding “Islamists, Go Home” at the University of Manouba, west of Tunis. (Reuters)
Hundreds of demonstrators calling for women to be allowed to wear the Muslim veil in class clashed with students at a university outside Tunis on Tuesday for the second day running.

Protesters wearing the veil and bearded men wearing the Muslim tunic shouted “God Is Great”, facing other students responding “Islamists, Go Home.”

The demonstration at the University of Manouba, west of Tunis, came a day after a group of Salafists disrupted classes there, demanding a stop to mixed-sex classes and for female students to wear full-face veils.

“A group of Salafists, dressed like Afghans, have been camped in front of my office since early afternoon,” Habib Kazdaghli, the dean of faculty at the University of Manuba, told AFP on Monday.

Tutors and union representatives voted at a general assembly on Tuesday to go on strike Thursday in protest at the incidents.

Several students and teaching staff said demonstrators were not enrolled at the university, and many were allegedly “agitators” from working-class neighbourhoods near the Manouba campus.

“This is not what the revolution was about,” one student said.

Two officials of the Islamist Ennahda party which swept to power in October 23 elections were involved in attempts to resolve the crisis.

Pro-headscarf demonstrators denied they were Salafists, a fundamentalist branch of Islam, and said they had not asked for mixed-sex classes to be stopped.

“We want two things: a prayer room inside the faculty and the right for girls wearing the headscarf to sit exams and attend classes,” said Anis Rezgui, a first-year student.

The higher education ministry late Monday condemned the protest.

Questioned by AFP, the ministry said that under current provisions students must be identified before they enter the campus for security reasons, which ruled out wearing the headscarf.

As post-revolution Tunisia lacks any legislation allowing or banning the headscarf, faculty deans implement a 2005 decision that staff must be able to identify students.

“We would like to have politicians’ point of view on what’s going on,” fumed an indignant student.

And English teacher Abdennebi Benbeya said the whole protest was “ridiculous.

“No one knows these demonstrators, they take advantage of the political void in Tunisia” after the demise of the old regime in January.

Tunisia’s Salafists have become more assertive in recent months, following the revolution that ousted a staunchly secular regime along with president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali following mass protests.

Visible again on the streets of Tunis and other major cities, their new assertiveness has led to a number of more or less violent clashes.

In the eastern city of Sousse earlier this month, some 200 Islamists stormed the university campus after a female student wearing a full face veil was not allowed to enroll.

On October 9 in Tunis, a mob of Salafists tried to attack the offices of private Nessma TV station that aired “Persepolis”, a French-Iranian animated film in which God is represented as an old bearded man.

“What’s happening is that many good and bad things that had been repressed resurface since the revolution,” said Tahar Chikraoui, history professor and film critic.

“We have extremists, manipulators, people who are learning what democracy means. ... And then there is a power vacuum. All this is not really surprising.”

International pressure mounts on Assad; U.N. rights forum poised to condemn Syria

Alarabiya.net English

Demonstrators protest against President Bashar al-Assad in al-Baidah, near Homs. The banner reads ‘To Arab league: the Syrian regime is a liar and criminal.’ (Reuters)
Demonstrators protest against President Bashar al-Assad in al-Baidah, near Homs. The banner reads ‘To Arab league: the Syrian regime is a liar and criminal.’ (Reuters)
Pressure is mounting on President Bashar al-Assad, with growing foreign condemnation of his repression of the Syrian uprising and attacks by armed rebels that his forces appear unable to stamp out.

European and Arab diplomats told Reuters the top United Nations human rights forum would announce on Wednesday a special Friday session that was expected to condemn Syria for crimes against humanity as Turkey said it would announce its sanctions soon.

The move is partly designed to put pressure on China and Russia to take a stronger stand against Assad’s government.

The 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council’s third session on Syria in eight months is being convened days after a U.N. commission of inquiry said Syrian government forces had committed murder, torture and rape in their crackdown on pro-democracy protests.
“This is very much being led by the Arab group. Some Arab ambassadors are at least as concerned as the European Union and United States and possibly more,” Britain’s ambassador Peter Gooderham told Reuters.

“There is no question that the resolution will be very hard-hitting at the Council's session on Friday,” he said. “It is all intended to build up the maximum pressure that the Human Rights Council can apply.”

An Arab diplomat in Geneva, who declined to be identified, told Reuters: “Arab support is there, the three Gulf Cooperation Council countries who are Council members -- Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia -- and Jordan. I’m sure Libya will be with us too.”

“It is meant to be a tool for later action in New York,” he said, referring to the General Assembly and Security Council.

On Sunday, the Arab League imposed sanctions on Damascus over its crackdown, in which more than 3,500 people have been killed since March, including 256 children, according to the United Nations. The EU weighed in one day later, further tightening the financial screws on Damascus.

Proposed resolution against Syria

An EU draft resolution to be presented to the U.N. rights forum for adoption strongly condemns “continued widespread, systematic and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities.”

These included executions, killing and persecution of protesters, activists and journalists, as well as arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances and torture.

“The resolution will certainly be adopted, no question, it has wide support,” the Arab diplomat said.

The draft text recommends that the General Assembly consider the commission of inquiry’s report and refer the report to the Security Council “for its consideration and appropriate action.”

The Security Council has the power to refer a country to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“This is probably the most controversial element in the resolution,” Gooderham said.

Russia and China, which both have oil concessions in Syria, teamed up last month to veto a Western-backed Security Council resolution condemning Assad’s government for violence.

The British envoy, asked about chances of winning support from China and Russia for the resolution, said: “Naturally we hope they will support this and not call a vote on the resolution as they did in August where they found themselves in a very small minority of only four states,” he said.

“We hope that they will look at the merits. The seriousness of the evidence is incontrovertible,” he said.

The U.N. commission of inquiry, which interviewed 223 victims and witnesses including defectors from the Syrian army, catalogued executions, torture, brutal rapes and abductions.

“They didn’t even have access to Syria. Imagine what is happening really inside the country,” the Arab diplomat said.

“It is close to the Iraq of Saddam Hussein, it is not any different in terms of human rights,” he said.

Turkey prepared for any scenario

Syria’s northern neighbor Turkey said on Tuesday it feared there could be an exodus of Syrians if the violence got worse, and that border states might have to create a buffer zone. Russia in contrast warned major powers against interference.

Turkey said it must prepare for “any scenario.”

“If tens, hundreds of thousands of people start advancing towards the Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey borders, not only Turkey but the international community may be required to take some steps such as a buffer zone,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in a television interview.

Turkey has an 800-km (500-mile) border with Syria. It has said it will selectively impose sanctions announced by the Arab League to avoid harming the Syrian people.

France has raised the idea of a secured humanitarian corridor, a step which would appear to imply some use of armed forces for security and logistics, if camps were set up on Syria’s border to accommodate masses of refugees.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said other states should “stop issuing ultimatums” to Assad and drop talk of an arms embargo which he said would favor the rebels.

“We know how that worked in Libya when the arms embargo only applied to the Libyan army, the opposition received weapons, and countries like France and Qatar publicly spoke about it without shame,” Lavrov said.

“For the most part, armed groups are provoking the authorities. To expect the authorities to close their eyes to this is not right,” said Moscow's veteran top diplomat.

Syria is a major weapons client of Moscow as well as a long-time strategic ally dating back to Soviet times. It also has close ties with Iran.

More deaths reported

Meanwhile, Syrian rebel forces ambushed an army vehicle in northern Syria on Tuesday, killing three soldiers and capturing two others, human rights observers said.

“The security forces vehicle was targeted while driving in the city of Saraqeb in Idlib province by a group of suspected army defectors,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement.

Activists said nine civilians, among them a child, died in fresh violence across Syria.

An eight-year-old girl was among five civilians killed in the flashpoint central city of Homs. She was struck by a stray bullet from a security checkpoint, the Observatory said, according to AFP.

And three people were shot dead in Rankuss near Damascus, where at least 17 civilians have been killed since Sunday, it said.

Troops also arrested 29 high school students in a raid in the southern province of Deraa, cradle of the anti-regime dissent.

Syria blames “armed terrorists” for the violence, and on Monday Foreign Minister Walid Muallem slammed Arab countries for ignoring these claims.

“The Arabs don’t want to admit the presence in Syria of groups of armed terrorists who are committing these crimes, abductions and attacks on public places,” he said.

Muallem denounced the punitive measures as “economic war,” but said Syria was capable of weathering the effects of the sanctions.

Moroccan King appoints Islamist PJD leader to form new government

Alarabiya.net English

Secretary general of Morocco’s Justice and Development Party (PJD), left, meets King Mohammed VI after. (MAP Photo)
Secretary general of Morocco’s Justice and Development Party (PJD), left, meets King Mohammed VI after. (MAP Photo)
The head of Morocco’s Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), Abdelilah Benkirane, was was appointed on Tuesday by King Mohammed VI to forming a new government following his party’s victory in last Friday’s elections.

PJD official Mustapha Khelfi had told Al Arabiya English that Benkirane was due to meet the king in the central town of Midelt on Tuesday, adding that the subject of the meeting was yet to be disclosed.
According to the constitution, the king must pick the head of government from the winning party but that person can be anyone from the party and not necessarily the chief of the party.

“The king is due to meet Benkirane, but it is not clear if he will be asked to form the government,” Khalfi said. “This issue is up to the king.”

PJD won 107 seats in the 395-seat parliament, followed by the Istiqlal (Independence) party with 60 seats and the National Rally of Independents with 52 seats.

PJD will have to form a coalition with at least two parties in order to get the needed 198 seat majority in parliament.

Kahlfi said PJD would only begin coalition talks with other parties after the appointment of a head of government by King Mohammed VI.

But it is likely that PJD will try to form a government with the Istiqlal party, the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, and the Party of Progress and Socialism. This would give the coalition a strong 224-seat majority needed to carry out economic and social reforms.

The PJD has vowed to combat corruption and tax evasion, reduce unemployment rates, and boost economic growth. Combating corruption, especially at the high echelons of government and in the circles of the palace, will likely be the most challenging for the party. It remains to be seen aggressive it will pursue its reformist agenda.

Islamists expect gains in Egypt’s poll; 80 people injured as violence flares in Cairo

Alarabiya.net English

A protester throws back a tear gas canister at police during clashes along a road which leads to the Interior Ministry, near Tahrir Square in Cairo. (Reuters)
A protester throws back a tear gas canister at police during clashes along a road which leads to the Interior Ministry, near Tahrir Square in Cairo. (Reuters)
The Muslim Brotherhood said the parliament that emerges from Egypt’s landmark elections should form a government, setting the stage for possible confrontation between Islamists and the ruling generals who have only just named a new prime minister as the Tahrir sit-in protest against the military council entered its 12th day on Wednesday.

The results of the first phase of the three-stage poll which could bring the Muslim Brotherhood closer to power were due to start coming out on Wednesday, but the military council which took over from ousted President Hosni Mubarak has yet to step aside.

Millions of voters went to the polls in a mostly peaceful two-day vote, though the calm was shattered on Tuesday night when nearly 80 people were wounded in violence focused around a Cairo sit-in protest by activists demanding an end to army rule, according to Reuters.
 A government that is not based on a parliamentary majority cannot conduct its work in practice  
Mohammed Mursi, Freedom and Justice Party
The election for Egypt’s lower house is due to conclude in early January but early results were expected to trickle out on Wednesday after a high turnout and only minor infringements were reported.

State television broadcast live footage of the vote count across Egypt, which has not seen an election this free in the decades since army officers overthrew the monarchy in 1952.

Though the Muslim Brotherhood went into the polls stronger than nascent secular parties, analysts say it is hard to predict the outcome given that most of the electorates are casting their ballots for the first time.

Election monitors reported logistical hiccups and some campaign violations but no serious violence to disrupt proceedings. Election posters and banners festooned towns and cities while judges officiated under the eye of troops, police and election monitors.

The outcome of the election in one of the Middle East’s most influential powers will help shape the future of a region convulsed by uprisings against decades of autocracy.

Though it did not start the Egyptian uprising, the Muslim Brotherhood has emerged as a major beneficiary of the revolt. The group, outlawed by Mubarak and his predecessors, is now in sight of a role in shaping the country’s future.

The government should be based on parliament majority

Electoral workers count votes after voting closed, at a counting center during the parliamentary election in Cairo. (Reuters)
Electoral workers count votes after voting closed, at a counting center during the parliamentary election in Cairo. (Reuters)
The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing established earlier this year, said Egypt’s new parliament should form the government.

“A government that is not based on a parliamentary majority cannot conduct its work in practice,” FJP head Mohammed Mursi told reporters during a tour of polling stations in the working-class district of Shubra in Cairo.

“Therefore we see that it is natural that the parliamentary majority in the coming parliament will be the one that forms the government,” said Mursi, adding:

“We see that it is better for it to be a coalition government built on a majority coalition in the parliament.”

It was only last week that the military council appointed Kamal al-Ganzouri, a 78-year-old veteran of the Mubarak era, to form a cabinet to replace the government of Essam Sharaf, which resigned in the face of protests against military rule.

A military council member said at the weekend the new parliament would not have the authority to dismiss Ganzouri’s government or form a new one. Yet observers question whether the council will be able to resist the will of a chamber elected in a fair vote, especially if voting carries on smoothly.

A senior figure in the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood said its FJP had done well in the voting so far.

“The Brotherhood party hopes to win 30 percent of parliament,” Mohamed al-Beltagy told Reuters.

The leader of the ultra-conservative Salafi Islamist al-Nour Party, which hopes to siphon votes from the Muslim Brotherhood, said organizational failings meant his party had underperformed.

But he told Reuters the party still expected to win up to half of second city Alexandria’s 24 seats in parliament and, nationwide, 70 to 75 of the assembly's 498 elected seats.

The success of the first phase has deflected criticism faced by the military council, which has been under pressure from street protesters over what they see as the generals' attempts to maintain power and privilege in the post-Mubarak era.

The military council has said turnout would exceed more than 70 percent, though the FJP’s Mursi said indications showed a lower figure of 40 percent.

Egypt’s stock market closed up 5.48 percent on Tuesday as investors welcomed the stability after weeks of falls caused by the political upheaval and unrest.

Playing the election card to stabilize the country

 Thugs are now attacking the protesters in Tahrir. A regime that cannot protect its citizens is a regime that has failed in performing its basic function 
Mohamed ElBaradei wrote on his Twitter feed
The successful first stage of the election was a boost for army leader Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who insisted voting should go ahead despite the unrest last week.

The army “played the election card to stabilize the country in the face of pressure from the street,” Tewfik Aclimandos, an expert at the College de France, a leading academic institute, told AFP.

In one of the military’s first reactions to the election’s first phase, General Ismail Atman, a ruling army council member, was quoted by al-Shorouk newspaper as saying the poll showed the irrelevance of the Tahrir Square protest.

Tantawi “expressed his happiness at the way the process was carried out and the high turnout, especially among women and the young,” said Itman.

Last week was Egypt’s most violent since Mubarak was ousted: 42 people were killed in clashes triggered by the protests against the military council, mostly in streets around Tahrir.

Tuesday night’s violence in Tahrir erupted when youths who could not be identified had tried to enter the square, one of the protest organizers said.

In the ensuing trouble, petrol bombs were thrown in the direction of the protesters and guns were fired. Twenty-seven of the wounded were taken to hospital, the official MENA news agency reported.

Live television footage showed petrol bombs arching through the night sky in the direction of the square and exploding on the road by Cairo's landmark Egyptian Museum and not far from the protesters’ encampment.

A witness heard at least 10 shots as the trouble flared at one end of the square, where protesters have been urging the immediate departure of the army generals who replaced Mubarak in February.

ElBaradei blames thugs for violence

In criticism of the military-run government, leading reformist politician Mohamed ElBaradei wrote on his Twitter feed: “Thugs are now attacking the protesters in Tahrir. A regime that cannot protect its citizens is a regime that has failed in performing its basic function.”

Mohammed al-Saeed, an organizer of the protest, told Egyptian state television the protesters had organized volunteer security groups “to protect people and families in the square” from the youths.

People parked cars on one of the main bridges spanning the Nile to watch as armed youths chased others in violent scenes beneath them.

It was unclear who threw the petrol bombs and who fired the shots and what motivated them, but state television said the clashes had initially involved street vendors.

In an earlier sign of tensions in the square, scuffles had flared between dozens of street vendors who have been selling goods to the protesters camped there and stalls were damaged.

The term thugs was often used to describe violent pro-Mubarak elements who disrupted elections in the rigged polls of the past and who used camels in the final days of the Mubarak era to try and intimidate protesters in Tahrir Square.

Many Egyptians were worried elections would be bloody. Instead, the vote won international praise.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated Egyptians on the first stage of the election and the “generally calm and orderly manner in which voting took place,” a statement from his office said.

Les Campbell, of the Washington-based National Democratic Institute, one of many groups monitoring the poll, said it was
“a fair guess” that turnout would exceed 50 percent, far above the meager showings in rigged Mubarak-era elections.

فيديو رائع لمراحل تكوين الجنين داخل رحم الأم

الاعجاز العلمي في القران الكريم ( الظلمات الثلاث )3

أفلا يتدبرون::إعجاز الله تعالى في خلق الذباب [11:7]

الصبر للشيخ عبدالمحسن الاحمد

Tunisia Talks on YouTube

10/20/2011 10:48:00 PM
The Arab Spring started in Tunisia, and it’s appropriate that Tunisia is now leading the way to a full democracy with their landmark free elections scheduled to take place on October 23. To help in this process, we recently partnered with startup news portal Tunisia Live to offer a training workshop in Tunis on Google tools and social media for politicians.

The turnout was fantastic; members from more than 40 parties and independent coalitions attended. The same day, Tunisia Live launched the Tunisia Talks channel on YouTube, channeling the enthusiasm of politicians to leverage social media and engage with voters. In this project, Tunisians are encouraged to submit and vote for top questions to the candidates, and many did so—for a flavor, see this example or this one. So far, more than 400 questions have been submitted.

This outreach is all the more exciting because YouTube was blocked for so many years in Tunisia. But when the regime collapsed last January, the site was unbanned and quickly became popular. Many Tunisian media outlets have set up channels to organize their video libraries on YouTube.

In this weekend’s elections, Tunisians will choose a constitutional council to write a new constitution for the country. Voters will select from lists of party members and independents. The Tunisian electoral committee has set up an official site www.isie.tn and is actively using social media to encourage voter registration—check their channel YouTube.com/isietn.

This is an exciting time in Tunisia. The media landscape—once limited and government-controlled—is now opening up to online platforms. Tunisians finally have access to a free Internet—and it’s playing a key role in building an encompassing political environment.

(Cross-posted on the European Public Policy Blog)

Magic moments in Egypt’s parliamentary elections, thanks to the web

11/28/2011 11:36:00 AM
Today more than 50 million Egyptians started heading to the polls to cast their votes for an independent Parliament, many for the first time in their lives. The revolution in Egypt, which captured the attention of the world beginning in Tahrir Square on January 25, 2011, made this possible by opening the floodgates of political participation.

With the free flow of information online, people can connect and engage in a open dialogue about the future of Egypt. The web is enabling many new voters to become better informed on their choice of candidates, and letting politicians reach electors in new and exciting ways.

Getting information about the new rules and the new players is no small feat for Egyptians: there are nearly 11,000 candidates vying for 498 seats across 27 governorates nationwide during a multi-stage election that started today and lasts until March 2012. We’re doing our best to organize information to make it easier for voters to find everything they need in one place. For example, millions of Egyptians have learned where they can vote through our landing page, www.google.com.eg/elections.

We’ve also worked to give a voice to thousands of candidates to reach voters through interactive video. The YouTube Townhall includes nearly 400 videos posted by candidates and political parties explaining where they stand on issues from education and the economy to health care and political reform, sparking vibrant conversations in cafés from Alexandria to Aswan.

We’re helping voters and politicians connect not just in Egypt, but throughout the entire Middle East and the world. For Tunisia’s recent parliamentary elections, we partnered with startup news portal Tunisia Live to offer a training workshop in Tunis on Google tools and social media for politicians. In France, we set up a special YouTube site for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The Internet is playing an increasingly significant role in Egypt. It’s bolstering civic engagement and becoming a powerful mechanism for information sharing—crucial to helping the nation make the tough transition to democracy.

Some weekend work that will (hopefully) enable more Egyptians to be heard

1/31/2011 02:27:00 PM
Like many people we’ve been glued to the news unfolding in Egypt and thinking of what we could do to help people on the ground. Over the weekend we came up with the idea of a speak-to-tweet service—the ability for anyone to tweet using just a voice connection.

We worked with a small team of engineers from Twitter, Google and SayNow, a company we acquired last week, to make this idea a reality. It’s already live and anyone can tweet by simply leaving a voicemail on one of these international phone numbers (+16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855) and the service will instantly tweet the message using the hashtag #egypt. No Internet connection is required. People can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to twitter.com/speak2tweet.

We hope that this will go some way to helping people in Egypt stay connected at this very difficult time. Our thoughts are with everyone there.

Update Feb 1, 12:47 PM: When possible, we're now detecting the approximate (country-level) geographic origin of each call dialing one of our speak2tweet numbers and attaching a hashtag for that country to each tweet. For example, if a call comes from Switzerland, you'll see #switzerland in the tweet, and if one comes from Egypt you'll see #egypt. For calls when we can't detect the location, we default to an #egypt hashtag.

Extending Google services in Africa

At Google we seek to serve a broad base of people — not only those who can afford to access the Internet from the convenience of their workplace or with a computer at home. It's important to reach users wherever they are, with the information they need, in areas with the greatest information poverty. In many places around the world, people look to their phones, rather than their computers, to find information they need in their daily lives. This is especially true in Africa, which has the world’s highest mobile growth rate and where mobile phone penetration is six times Internet penetration. One-third of the population owns a mobile phone and many more have access to one.

Most mobile devices in Africa only have voice and SMS capabilities, and so we are focusing our technological efforts in that continent on SMS. Today, we are announcing Google SMS, a suite of mobile applications which will allow people to access information, via SMS, on a diverse number of topics including health and agriculture tips, news, local weather, sports, and more. The suite also includes Google Trader, a SMS-based “marketplace” application that helps buyers and sellers find each other. People can find, "sell" or "buy" any type of product or service, from used cars and mobile phones to crops, livestock and jobs.

We are particularly excited about Google SMS Tips, an SMS-based query-and-answer service that enables a mobile phone user to have a web search-like experience. You enter a free form text query, and Google's algorithms restructure the query to identify keywords, search a database to identify relevant answers, and return the most relevant answer.

Both Google SMS Tips and Google Trader represent the fruits of unique partnerships among Google, the Grameen Foundation, MTN Uganda and local organizations*. We worked closely together as part of Grameen Foundation's Application Laboratory to understand information needs and gaps, develop locally relevant and actionable content, rapidly test prototypes, and conduct multi-month pilots with the people who will eventually use the applications have truly been a global effort, and created with Ugandans, for Ugandans.

We're just beginning. We can do a lot more to improve search quality and the breadth — and depth — of content on Google SMS, especially on Tips and Trader. Google SMS is by no means a finished product, but that's what's both exciting and challenging about this endeavor.

Meanwhile, if you're curious about what Google is doing in Africa, learn more at the Google Africa Blog.

Update: Corrected link to YouTube video for "rapidly test prototypes".
*BROSDI, (Busoga Rural Open Source and Development Initiative), Straight Talk Foundation, Marie Stopes Uganda.

Posted by Joe Mucheru, Head of Google Sub-Saharan Africa, & Fiona Lee, Africa Project Manager

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GreeneWave Radio Live: Listener Q&A w/ Guest Fabian4Liberty

British Minister Says His Department Received No Correspondence About Somaliland Independence

London, UK, November 26, 2011 (SL Times) – In what is bound to be an embarrassing revelation for Somaliland's government and public, a member in the British government revealed that his department (the department of International Development), "has not received any ministerial correspondence concerning the recognition of independence of Somaliland" for a year.
This came in the context of a question by conservative parliamentarian Andrew Rosindell in which he asked the Minister of State for International Development Alan Duncan about how much correspondence he received regarding Somaliland's independence. The absence of any correspondence for 12 months reflects badly on Somaliland's government as well as on Somaliland's public, especially in the diaspora, and raises questions about how much is being done to secure Somaliland's recognition.
Here is the exchange between the MP and the minister:
Somaliland: Sovereignty
International Development
Written Answers on 22 Nov 2011
Andrew Rosindell (Romford, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many (a) letters and (b) emails his Department received concerning the recognition of the independence of Somaliland in the last 12 months for which figures are available.
Alan Duncan (Minister of State, International Development; Rutland and Melton, Conservative)
In the last 12 months, the Department for International Development has not received any ministerial correspondence concerning the recognition of independence of Somaliland.
Over the same time period we received 15 inquiries by e-mail to the Public Enquiry Point on this subject.
Source: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2011-11-22b.77084.h#g77084.r0

Somaliland map

Somaliland is situated on the eastern horn of Africa and lies between the 08°00' - 11°30' parallel north of the equator and between 42°30' - 49°00' meridian east of the Greenwich.
It shares its borders with the following countries: Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the north and Somalia to the south. Somaliland has a coastal line to the north and east  of the country, which extends 460 miles along the Red Sea.


Somaliland is about the size of England and Wales with an area of 137,600km² (68,000 sq. miles).


  • Somaliland was a British protectorate for nearly 80 years, in 1886 British established a protectorate over the northern regions of Somalia on the coast of the Gulf of Aden.
  • Somaliland gained its independence from Britain at 26th of June 1960 and Somaliland entered an ill-starred union with the former Italian Somalia in 1st of July in 1960 in response to the dreams of Somali patriots who wished to unite the lands in which Somalis lived.
  • Over time, the people of the former British Somaliland became so hostile to the way in which the nation was being administered; with the allocation of resources being skewed in favour of the south and that they started an insurrection and eventually declared independence after the civil war and the collapse of Somali government. 
  • Somali National Movement (SNM) invaded northern Somalia (former British Somaliland) in May 1988, and the number of refugees swells quickly to more than 600,000 people in the refugees camps in Ethiopia.
  • The brutal ruler of Somalia deposed by the SNM from northern Somalia and later with the cooperation of the United Somali Congress (USC) from southern Somalia that unseated the horrific dictator from power in the end at early January 1991.
  • Somaliland declared the restoration of its independence and dissolution of its union with Italian Somalia in May 1991, under the leadership of the Somali National Movement (SNM).
  • A stable administration has been formed, though not internationally recognised; Somaliland has a working political system, government institutions, a police force and its own currency.
  • Civil war (1988-1991) had resulted in the deaths of nearly 60,000 people, massive population displacement and total destruction of infrastructures, communications and public services.
  • The country as whole is ruined and raised to ground level as resulting from the legacy of indiscriminate bombardment left by Barre's military junta since north Somalia (somaliland) was the priority target for them.
  • Consequently, no public services are available for the people of Somaliland owing mainly to the destruction of hospitals, schools, public residential areas, and the infrastructure as a whole.
  • Somaliland is desperately poor. The majority of the Somaliland people are pastoral nomads, raising camels, sheep, goats and some cattle for subsistence and trade.
  • An estimated 60% of the population depends on livestock and livestock products for its livelihood and there is very little farming.
  • The embargoes on livestock exports, imposed by Arabian Gulf countries to inhibit the confusion the spread of Rift Valley Fever, have seriously affected the Somaliland's revenues.
  • The economy is highly dependent on money sent home by members of the Diaspora.
  • In recent years, more than 600,000 refugees, out of a population about 3.5 million, have returned to Somaliland and they live appalling conditions. 
  • Somaliland is also in desperate need, having suffered from terrible droughts, the worst in decades, resulting in the death of hundred thousands of animals, affecting thousands of people already living on the very edge of survival.
  • Somaliland challenges remain daunting. Legacy of civil war, along with mines and unexploded ordnance, still affect some areas while the persistent drought has destroyed the lives of many farmers and livestock owners.
  • Thousands of Somaliland, many of them children, is still living in temporary camps or remote areas inaccessible by relief agencies and many of them are at risk of disease. 
Somaliland is a country with needs that must be addressed urgently. The situation is more complicated because of its recent history. It has problems with health, education, food insecurity, water supply, HIV/AIDS and infrastructures.
Although the war in Somaliland is over, the humanitarian crisis is not. Hence, this brought about the establishment of the Somaliland Community Development (UHUBSO) in line with the International community feeling to respond to the plight and the urgency need and assistance for the Somalilanders to rebuild their country. Subsequently, the British Somalis and others decided to take the initiates to cooperate with International community, NGOS, UN agencies and others who are striving to raise funds intended to enable the Somaliland people to rebuild their own country, after having established this charity organisation.

The bodies of two men found beheaded in southern Somalia

Shabelle Media Network (AFMADOW
AFMADOW (Sh. M. Network) –Reports from the fragile border town of Afmadow in Lower Jubba region of southern Somalia said on Sunday that the bodies of two boys beheaded have been found overnight in the central of Afmadow town.

Local residents told Shabelle media that the Al-Qaeda linked group of Al-shabab militants threw the body of two beheaded civilian men in the heart of Afmadow town, who Al-shabab fighters arrested in the town few days ago.

Al-shabab fighters accused the beheaded young boys to have had links to the Transitional Federal government Somalia and to have been guiding the Kenyan air strikes on Al-shabab bases in their strong hold regions in southern Somalia. The militants threaded locals to face similar any one found working with Somali government and Kenya.

Residents in the area have expressed fear and concern about these actions and decapitated bodies thrown in the area,which are new in the town of Afmadow, where Islamist rebels and government soldiers backing by Kenyan army are fighting daily.

The body of the men becomes the first men beheaded in Afmadow town since Al-shabab Islamist rebels took over the town.

For more send your comments to webmaster@shabelle.net

“Ethiopian entrance in the country is national deception,” Somali

Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu)

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network)-Some of the parliament members for the Transitional Federal government of Somalia on Sunday strongly condemned its hardest words the Ethiopian army incursion into Somalia

After meeting in Mogadishu on Sunday, some of the Somali lawmakers opposed greatly the recent Ethiopian troops with tanks and heavy weapons who were reported to have crossed into some parts of the central region in the horn of Africa war torn country.

 “Ethiopian incursion into Somalia is absolutely illegal and national deception, it is also unacceptable and it will not be ever tolerable” told reporters in Mogadishu, A/rahman Mahamud farah, Somali MP.

The parliament also denounced Somali government for its acceptance of foreign troops from the neighboring country of Ethiopia, in the pretext of the fight against Al-shabab fighters.

This comes amid over reported Ethiopian army incursion into central Somalia and the Ethiopian government denied the move.

Tension has historically run high between Ethiopia and Somalia and reached a new high five years ago with an Ethiopian invasion that targeted Islamist militants in the capital.

For more send your comments to webmaster@shabelle.net

Blasts kill Three, wound Seven in Mogadishu

Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu) 

MOGADISHU (Sh.M.Network)-Three people including young children were killed and seven others were seriously wounded in double explosions happened in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Tuesday, eyewitnesses said.

Local residents said that the firs blast was caused a purse hidden in an explosive device that killed two children and injured five,who have been plying it in the heart of Mogadishu’s Wardhigley district.

The second explosion went off nearby Somali government military base in an intersection connecting both Wadajir and Hodon districts also in the lawless capital, Mogadishu, killing unidentified person civilian or soldier, wounding two civilians walking nearby the exploded street, local residents told Shabelle media.

Officials of Banadir administration for Transitional Federal government of Somalia blamed the increasing spate of blasts and attacks in Mogadishu on Al-Shabab militants, and vowed to secure the overall security of the capital and prevent futher attacks from the militants,the al-Qaeda linked group, which controls much of southern and central Somalia.

For more send your comments to webmaster@shabelle.net