5/31/2011

UNDERSTANDING PROMOTES NEW 'GREEN REVOLUTION' IN AFRICA

(AGI) Accra - A new agreement will support 'African agriculture as an engine for development of the continent. have signed an agreement that provides for a series of joint initiatives for research, training and development of the agricultural sector. "Investing in agriculture and 'trail more' safe to reduce poverty ', to accelerate the economic and social growth, encourage the key role of women and provide new opportunities' economic," said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack

5/30/2011

Mideast Revolutions Spread to Europe

TEHRAN (FNA)- Reports from the Greek capital city said thousands of people flooded central Athens last night on the fifth day of protests against government austerity policies after an online campaign inspired by Spanish demonstrators
About 20,000 people assembled in the Greek capital's central Syntagma Square, police estimated, responding to calls on social networking sites for gatherings across Europe to demand "real democracy".
Below the parliament building, protesters held a placard claiming "poverty is the greatest abuse" while others beat empty pots, chanting "thieves".
Greece is struggling to build consensus over an unpopular austerity program agreed with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund after they rescued the country from bankruptcy with a huge bailout loan.
Sunday's gathering appeared to be the largest since protests began on Wednesday after the plans were circulated on Facebook.
The demonstrations are modeled on a similar mobilization in Spain led by a group calling themselves "los indignados" (the indignant).
Meantime, many world analysts believe that Spaniards' growing unrest, inspired by popular Muslim uprisings in the Middle-East and North Africa in turn, will spread throughout Europe this summer and "go global" by winter.
"Young people have wised up. They know the score," Trends Research Institute Director Gerald Celente told King World News in an interview posted Friday. "Those are the people that are ahead of all of these revolutions."
Inspired by the revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests taking place in the Middle-East and North Africa, tens of thousands of young Spaniards, expressing distress over 45 percent youth unemployment and severe government-imposed austerity measures, have taken over central squares in 60 cities - including Madrid's busy Puerta del Sol - seeking to overhaul Spain's socioeconomic and political systems, which they allege favor special interests, specially financial institutions.
Like the so-called Arab Spring, the growing Spanish movements are spread via social media networks and led in the streets by the young.
And "they're not leaving the streets," Celente told King World News, because "when you lose everything and have nothing left to lose, you lose it."
"These revolutions are going to spread through the summer in Europe, and by the winter it's going to go global," he said.
A French youth-led group staged a large demonstration in Paris this weekend in solidarity with Spain's protesters. The French protest followed Friday's close of the Group of Eight summit of world leaders, including US President Barack Obama, in the French seaside resort town of Deauville.
Another Spanish-style uprising could emerge in neighboring Portugal next week, ahead of a June 5 snap election, The New York Times said.
Celente said Europe's Internet-savvy youth are "getting everyone out to join them because they know now that if they don't fight against the machine, the machine is going to grind them up".
Disgruntled Spaniards began their protests against the government's austerity measures on May 15, demanding jobs, housing and "real democracy."
Many Iranian analysts and officials had earlier predicted that the growing wave of awakening is spreading from the Middle-East and North Africa to Europe.
"Less than a month after Supreme Leader's perception about spread of the waves of freedom-seeking to Europe, we are witnessing freedom-seeking camps being erected in European countries," Commander of Iran's Basij (volunteer) forces Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi told reporters here in Tehran on Saturday.
Earlier this month, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei stressed that the European continent will soon experience popular uprisings and revolutions sweeping the Middle-East and North of Africa at present.
Addressing a large number of Iranian teachers and university professors here in Tehran, Ayatollah Khamenei reiterated that the growing wave of Islamic awakening in the Middle-East, North Africa and other parts of the Muslim world has been inspired by Iran's Islamic Revolution, and said this awakening will definitely spread to the European countries.
"This awakening move will certainly advance to the very heart of the Europe and the European nations will rise against their politicians and rulers who have fully surrendered to the US and the Zionists' cultural and economic policies," he said.
In relevant remarks earlier this year, a prominent American analyst had said that the wave of Erhal (Get Out) revolutions in the Middle-East and North Africa is now growing to the European continent.
"Due to the financial corruption dominating most of the European governments and the pervasive bottlenecks and crises that have arisen in the western countries these days, it is predicted that the growing trend of such discontents will soon turn into a series of revolutions known as the Erhal Revolutions" in the Middle-East and North Africa, Dr. James Anderson said late March.
He said the European countries have not witnessed a major development and political leap after the Renaissance, the World War II, the Cold War and formation of the European Union (EU), but now the time is ripe for the European people to get ready for political revolutions and change in their ruling structures.
Dr. Anderson also described the current protests and rallies in London as a prelude to Erhal revolutions in Europe, and said many European countries will soon be Erhalized and the world will soon witness that Erhalization has no boundaries.
Similar to the spread of Islam to Europe via Spain several centuries ago, the growing waves of awakening seem to be spreading from the Middle-East and North Africa to Europe via the same country, where thousands of Spanish protesters have started rallies since a few days ago.

BAHRAIN : We are aware of the following planned demonstrations

Da UK in Bahrain:
We are aware of the following planned demonstrations:
Wednesday 1 June: Widespread potential protests including areas of Jidhafs, Sanabis, Karanah, Karbabad, Abo Saibah, Maqabah, Old Bilad, Abo Quwah, Sehlah, Diraz, Bin Jamrah, Sar, Karzakan, Malkyah, Nawidarat, Eker, Tubli, Sitra (all areas) Neaam, Manama, AlDair, Aali, Juffair and Hamad Town roundabouts 1, 4, 2, 22.). Online sources indicate that all protests will be at 1600.
A pro US march, to thank the US for the Obama speech, will head to US navy base in Juffair with meeting places set for the area between Al - Nasser Club and Pizza Hut.
Friday 3 June: Marches have also been announced for this date but no details are available.
British nationals travelling within Bahrain should maintain a high level of security awareness, particularly in public places and on major highways, avoiding large crowds and demonstrations. Whilst the British Embassy seeks to ensure the information we give is as reliable as possible, we cannot confirm that all such events will go ahead as listed.

5/29/2011

Bahraini Female Doctors Recount Detention Horror

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Although medics usually enjoy protection in conflicts by virtue of their profession, many Shiite doctors and nurses in Bahrain were rounded up in the March crackdown on a month-long pro-democracy protest.
Authorities accused them of abusing their jobs and siding with their co-religionist protesters.
Doctors at Manama's Salmaniya central hospital, not far from the capital's Pearl roundabout that became the focal point of protests inspired by the Arab uprisings, were also accused of lying and exaggerating on satellite channels to pile pressure on the government.
Some of the women doctors recently freed told AFP how they were made to confess to such allegations under torture and after being subjected to verbal abuse.
They requested anonymity for fear of further persecution.
"I advise you that we will get you to say whatever we want, either by you saying it willingly, or we will beat you like a donkey and torture you until you say it," one female doctor said, citing her interrogator.
The doctor said she was asked about her role in the February 14 Revolution, the name given by cyber activists to the demonstrations after two protesters were killed on that date.
She said she was smacked in the face by a female interrogator when she answered that she was just a doctor treating those wounded during the crackdown on the uprising.
"It seems you don't want to cooperate," the female officer told her, while accusing medics of "stealing blood units to splash on the wounded" to exaggerate their injuries for television.
Blindfolded and handcuffed, the female doctor who claimed to have always been apolitical, said she was stunned with an electric shock to the head. She was then thrown on the floor, legs up, and beaten severely on the feet with what felt like an electric cable or a hose.
"Even policewomen were shocked when they saw my state as I came out of the interrogation room," she said.
The following day, male interrogators took over, subjecting her to verbal sexual harassment and threatening to rape her.
"You must have had Mutah with demonstrators at the (Pearl) roundabout," she cited the interrogator telling her, referring to a form of temporary marriage for Shiites which Sunnis frown upon as adultery.
"I will have Mutah with you," she quoted him as saying.
"I will hang you from your breasts and rape you," she quoted another as saying.
The woman eventually agreed to sign every confession paper she was given for fear of being raped.
Afterwards she spent more than 20 days in prison. She was released only after signing many pledges, including not to take part in any protests and not to talk to media.
Other female doctors, each of whom has had at least 20 years of professional experience, too spoke of humiliations and beatings.
"Nobody expected this" said one doctor who said she too was arrested and tortured. "Doctors are supposed to be a red line."
She also spent over 20 days in detention and was subjected to beating to extract confessions that doctors had tried to "expand wounds in order to make them look bad," for cameras.
The authorities claim that such actions led to the deaths of two protesters who they said had arrived at the hospital suffering only minor injuries.
"I couldn't tell on which side of my head the slaps would land" said the veiled doctor describing how she was made to stand blindfolded in the interrogation room, where she claimed she was repeatedly called a "whore."
At night, the soft-spoken mother was made to sleep on a chair.
Another doctor said she managed to lie down, albeit on a cold floor, blindfolded and handcuffed, only after she faked dizziness.
Apart from wanting her to testify against some male doctors accused of mobilising medics to join the protests, they also ordered her to say that she served medicines "only to one sect of people who wanted to topple the regime" -- a reference to the Shiite protesters.
She said she was struck several times in the face by a female interrogator.
Though freed, the doctors are barred from travelling and remain suspended from work with salaries overdue since March. They now fear being put on trial.
AFP approached Bahraini authorities for comment on abuse claims, but there was no response.
The authorities have said that 47 medics -- 24 doctors and 23 nurses -- have been referred to a special court set up under the state of national safety declared by King Hamad a day before the March 16 crackdown on demonstrators.
Bahrain state television repeatedly aired footage from Salmaniya hospital showing scenes it said proved the facility had been transformed into a protest bastion.
"What happened at Salmaniya will not be permitted again," Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman said last week.
The freed women doctors say they fear for the fate of the male doctors who remain in custody.
"If the women have been treated in such a (harsh) way, what would the situation be with the men!" exclaimed one doctor.
Some medics also expressed fear over the conditions of the female head of nursing at Salmaniya hospital, Rola al-Safar, who remains in custody.
Safar was forced to confess on camera that she "splashed blood units on the patients" to exaggerate, one medic said.
International rights groups have strongly criticised Bahrain over its heavy-handed crackdown on the Shiite-dominated protests, and abuse of medics, teachers and other employees accused of backing the protest.

Bahrain; List of Sport Players, Referee and Clubs Targeted

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) has issued a report from Manama today regarding the Sports in Bahrain. The report covers the types of violations against Players, Referees and Clubs.
In a statement Mr. Mohammed Al-Maskati, the President of the BYSHR said: "Bahraini authorities accused the "sport", and began to punish the players, referees and clubs, because of the freedom of opinion and expression."
Note:

General Organization for Youth and Sport announced the suspension of 154 player but did not publish their names

Bahrain opposition Leader: Reform Only Way Forward / Bahrain is Ill Now

Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - The opposition pulled its 18 MPs out of parliament -- two of whom have been detained -- in protest at violence against demonstrators. Sheikh Ali Salman, who heads Al-Wefaq, the Sunni-ruled kingdom's largest Shiite political group, said in an interview his movement was also not planning to take part in upcoming by-elections. A "counter-revolution" has raised fears among Sunnis of the Shiite-led protest movement, the white-turbaned cleric said, while insisting on a civic state for both Muslim communities and not Iran-style clerical rule. The government is now "definitely demanded to introduce serious reforms. What is also definite is that stability will not come through oppression," said Salman, ahead of the lifting of emergency laws enforced in mid-March. The Wefaq leader said "security (forces) will not bring the solution ... Without political reform, this bad situation will continue and there will not be real stability." If the authorities, widely criticised by rights groups for their heavy-handed clampdown on Shiites, continue with the same policies after the June 1 lifting of emergency law, the crisis will remain unchanged, he said. "If the same mentality that runs the country now continues in the coming days ... this means that Bahrain will remain 'ill,'" he said, insisting on a political solution. "You have frightened the people with tanks, so you have to keep tanks around. This would be far from normal," he said, warning that protesters were already returning to the streets in their villages. The cleric led the political front of month-long protests on the streets that erupted in mid-February led by Shiite youth inspired by uprisings that toppled long-time strongmen in Tunisia and Egypt. Banking on the unprecedented mass protest camped out at Manama's Pearl roundabout, before it was raided in mid-March, Salman's Wefaq and six other opposition groups raised the stakes, demanding a "real" constitutional monarchy. Some demonstrators from the disenfranchised Shiite community called for the fall of the Al-Khalifa dynasty, sending shivers across the Sunni-ruled Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf wary of neighbouring Shiite Iran's influence. "We said: The people want to reform the regime. We did not raise the slogan of toppling the regime," said Salman. "We conducted a survey among demonstrators, and the majority said they wanted a constitutional monarchy." But Salman, who led the Shiites to lift their boycott of elections and to take part in 2006 polls, since when Al-Wefaq (Accord in Arabic) has formed the largest parliamentary blocs, expressed disillusionment with the electoral process. "The preliminary decision of the opposition is not to take part in the by-elections (in September). We will announce our final decision in the coming days," he said. "We have tried out participation (in parliament) and we did not manage to change a single law," he said, pointing to the blocking powers of an upper chamber which is appointed by the king. In a blow to Al-Wefaq, two of its former MPs, Matar Matar and Jawad Fayruz, were arrested at gunpoint shortly after Sunni fellow MPs voted to accept their resignation. Their whereabouts remain unknown. "Since they were arrested, there has been no information about them. They have not contacted their families. Those are (former) MPs ... so one can imagine what an ordinary citizen would be facing," said Salman. The MPs were seized amid a massive wave of arrests of Shiites, including dozens of medics, and notably female doctors and teachers, some of whom have spoken of torture after their release. "The regime should realise that what has happened over the past two months will not be wiped from the memories of people, who will not forget and will work on documenting it," said Salman. He also reiterated that the Shiites do not aspire to establish a religion-based state. "We always said we do not want a state based on religion and that we want a civic state. We do not want the 'Wilayat al-Faqih' and it is not applicable in Bahrain," he said, referring to "rule of the supreme cleric" applied in Iran. "We want a constitutional monarchy where the Al-Khalifas would be the monarchs. We do not want Iran to meddle in our internal affairs, nor Saudi Arabia," he said.

5/28/2011

Bahrain opposition Leader: Reform Only Way Forward / Bahrain is Ill Now

 Date: 2011/05/28
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - The opposition pulled its 18 MPs out of parliament -- two of whom have been detained -- in protest at violence against demonstrators.
Sheikh Ali Salman, who heads Al-Wefaq,  the Sunni-ruled kingdom's largest Shiite political group, said in an interview his movement was also not planning to take part in upcoming by-elections.
A "counter-revolution" has raised fears among Sunnis of the Shiite-led protest movement, the white-turbaned cleric said, while insisting on a civic state for both Muslim communities and not Iran-style clerical rule.
The government is now "definitely demanded to introduce serious reforms. What is also definite is that stability will not come through oppression," said Salman, ahead of the lifting of emergency laws enforced in mid-March.
The Wefaq leader said "security (forces) will not bring the solution ... Without political reform, this bad situation will continue and there will not be real stability."
If the authorities, widely criticised by rights groups for their heavy-handed clampdown on Shiites, continue with the same policies after the June 1 lifting of emergency law, the crisis will remain unchanged, he said.
"If the same mentality that runs the country now continues in the coming days ... this means that Bahrain will remain 'ill,'" he said, insisting on a political solution.
"You have frightened the people with tanks, so you have to keep tanks around. This would be far from normal," he said, warning that protesters were already returning to the streets in their villages.
The cleric led the political front of month-long protests on the streets that erupted in mid-February led by Shiite youth inspired by uprisings that toppled long-time strongmen in Tunisia and Egypt.
Banking on the unprecedented mass protest camped out at Manama's Pearl roundabout, before it was raided in mid-March, Salman's Wefaq and six other opposition groups raised the stakes, demanding a "real" constitutional monarchy.
Some demonstrators from the disenfranchised Shiite community called for the fall of the Al-Khalifa dynasty, sending shivers across the Sunni-ruled Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf wary of neighbouring Shiite Iran's influence.
"We said: The people want to reform the regime. We did not raise the slogan of toppling the regime," said Salman. "We conducted a survey among demonstrators, and the majority said they wanted a constitutional monarchy."
But Salman, who led the Shiites to lift their boycott of elections and to take part in 2006 polls, since when Al-Wefaq (Accord in Arabic) has formed the largest parliamentary blocs, expressed disillusionment with the electoral process.
"The preliminary decision of the opposition is not to take part in the by-elections (in September). We will announce our final decision in the coming days," he said.
"We have tried out participation (in parliament) and we did not manage to change a single law," he said, pointing to the blocking powers of an upper chamber which is appointed by the king.
In a blow to Al-Wefaq, two of its former MPs, Matar Matar and Jawad Fayruz, were arrested at gunpoint shortly after Sunni fellow MPs voted to accept their resignation. Their whereabouts remain unknown.
"Since they were arrested, there has been no information about them. They have not contacted their families. Those are (former) MPs ... so one can imagine what an ordinary citizen would be facing," said Salman.
The MPs were seized amid a massive wave of arrests of Shiites, including dozens of medics, and notably female doctors and teachers, some of whom have spoken of torture after their release.
"The regime should realise that what has happened over the past two months will not be wiped from the memories of people, who will not forget and will work on documenting it," said Salman.
He also reiterated that the Shiites do not aspire to establish a religion-based state.
"We always said we do not want a state based on religion and that we want a civic state. We do not want the 'Wilayat al-Faqih' and it is not applicable in Bahrain," he said, referring to "rule of the supreme cleric" applied in Iran.
"We want a constitutional monarchy where the Al-Khalifas would be the monarchs. We do not want Iran to meddle in our internal affairs, nor Saudi Arabia," he said.

Human rights are protected in Bahrain, says Dr. Salah Ali

http://www.bna.bh/  (http://www.bna.bh/portal/main)

Brussels, May 28 (BNA) Head of the Shura Council's Foreign Affairs, Defence and National Security Committee Dr. Salah Ali, who is heading a Bahraini parliamentary delegation to the Belgian capital, Brussels, has affirmed that democracy in Bahrain is safeguarded and the constitutional institutions are going ahead with the democratic march.
He was speaking at a meeting with Amnesty International Director Philippe Hinsmans at Bahrain embassy in Brussels.
The delegation has asserted the kingdm's keenness to respect and protect human rights which are guaranteed by the constitution and the royal reform project of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
"Bahrain has emerged stronger than before thanks to the people's unity against the plotters. All Bahrainis are one family and no one will be able to drive wedges among them," They said.
"The current phase requires to focus efforts on boosting security and stability, then mend the rift caused by the crisis in order to maintain national unity which has ever characterized the peaceful Bahraini people," They added.

A O Q

Bahrain Media Centre Statement: The Friday of the Peaceful Return

14 Martyrs Square (Pearl Roundabout) May 27 2011
The Media Centre of the February 14 Revolution has issued a statement, calling for heavy participation in (The Friday of the Peaceful Return) dated on June 3rd, 2011; as a confirmation to the right of the protests demanding the legitimate demands and calling to embark all possible power according to the harmonic vision between the people and to raise their voices against all forms of tyranny and injustice.
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Although, the centre emphasized that the sacrifice of what the entire individual owns in order to obtain dignity and pride, and in defence of his/her constitutional rights, is a requirement that no one in this world can confiscate it, eliminate it or justify its prevention. Pointing out that we in Bahrain today facing a cruel test wishes to measure the awareness and toughness of our people, and its determination to achieve the civil country which ensure equal rights for all citizens. Adding that the desire of our people is in dignity constitutional nationality is an invincible will and therefore the desired change inevitably will occur. In addition to the above, it elaborate that the authority in Bahrain has gone too far and reached its persistence in the use of violence and excessive force against unarmed citizens, considering that on the 1st of June will be the first day public demonstrations of all areas in Bahrain and the main point that required to be head to is the Martyrs Square (Pearl Roundabout) in addition to other sites which will be announced later like the square near the U.S. Base in Juffair in order to deliver the messages of our oppressed people to the influential international power. Also, the Media Centre considered that playing the death sentences card by the Government comes under the context of interference the main demands so as to reduce its assumed losses in any political settlement, expecting at the same time that the authority will commit some follies during the time that preceding the lifting of the National Safety Law (Emergency Law) in the hope of bringing more pressure on our people and to enhance the chances of survival of the failure military minds in the regime. Therefore, it considered that Bahrain has exceeded the pre-February 14th phase, where after March 16th it turned the page of its previous stage because the demands have been proven and it is impossible to assign the firm desire to achieve it. Last but not least, it emphasized the principle of national unity; because the people will return with all its strength in the coming days and the threats by the authority against attempts to activate the people reflect the fact that the mercenaries hired by the regime are considered the invitations to break the state of security siege against our villages and cities as serious invitations. Expressing in the same time its deep confidence in the firm will of the people, which caused the cohesive of opposition forces and all spectrum. Because it is one country and we all have the right to return to the peaceful struggle that achieves this unity. Finally, the centre sends its regards to the hero detainees of teachers, engineers, architectures, doctors, political figures, lawyers, athletes, schools and universities students, journalists, Media workers and various workers in the formal and informal institutions as well as all the segments varied in the public sector, the families of the martyrs and the wounded, and to all segments of the resistant steadfast heroes who bear the suffering of the cruel and brutal practices by the authority radical forces, Confederate them to continue the democratic struggle against the tyranny.
Media Centre of the Revolution of Revolution

Bahraini Forces Attack Protesters in Diraz and Bani Jamrah

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - The protesters called for an end to the Al Khalifa rule and the immediate release of detained anti-government protesters.
According to witnesses, Bahraini protesters in recent days have their faces covered to avoid recognition by regime forces.
Saudi-backed Bahraini troops have arrested hundreds of anti-government protesters during overnight operations after identifying them based on pictures taken from opposition rallies.
There were no immediate reports of casualties or arrests on Friday.
Since the beginning of anti-regime protests in Bahrain in mid-February, Manama has launched a harsh crackdown on anti-government protesters, rounding up senior opposition figures and activists in dawn raids and arresting doctors, nurses, lawyers and journalists who have voiced support for the protest movement.
While the whereabouts of many detainees are still unknown, Bahraini authorities have begun to try a number of detained activists in what the opposition calls kangaroo courts.
Protesters have been charged with several counts such as attempting to overthrow the monarchy, and they are being tried in a special security court set up under martial law.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticized the Bahraini government for its brutal crackdown on civilians.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, which visits detainees in conflict situations, has been trying to see and contact Bahraini detained activists since mid-March. But so far Manama has refused to grant it permission.
Meanwhile, Bahrain's state news agency says that military prosecutors have asked the country's highest court to review death penalties issued against two anti-regime protesters.
Human Rights Watch as also called on the country to stop trying civilians in military courts.

5/26/2011

Bahrain journalists' watchdog calls for respect of media people


- GULF NEWS
- By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
- Published: 11:22 May 26, 2011

Bahrain Journalists Association (BJA) on Wednesday condemned the maltreatment of journalist Nazeeha Al Saeed
Manama: Bahrain Journalists Association (BJA) on Wednesday condemned the maltreatment of journalist Nazeeha Al Saeed and called upon all parties to respect media people and allow them access to information with ease.
Nazeeha, a Bahrain-based reporter for France 24 and Radio Monte Carlo, has complained that she had been roughly treated at a police station where she had been summoned.
Her complaint sparked an order by Shaikh Rashid Bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, the interior minister, to launch an investigation into the case.
"We thank Shaikh Rashid for his decision and we call for the full application of the law and regulations following the investigation," the BJA said.
"We want to make sure that the safety of all journalists is preserved and that all those who do not show respect for journalists or deny them the right to perform their duty or to carry out their mission to be reprimanded in accordance with the law," the association, an umbrella for Bahrain-based journalists, said.
The interior ministry should brief the BJA on the investigation findings, the association said.

Students boycott University of Bahrain

Shia News - May 24, 2011 
Students say they left classrooms due to the government's so-called protection measures and tight security at the campus.
Classes at the University of Bahrain resumed a couple of days ago after authorities installed new surveillance cameras across the university.
The facility was ransacked around two months ago during the unrest that has gripped the Persian Gulf state for over three months.
All students must now re-register with the university and sign a code of conduct. Each student is given a compulsory identification card that must be worn at all times on campus.
According to Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR), the University of Bahrain is planning to accept only pro-government students and those refusing to sign a pledge of loyalty to the government will be expelled from the only national higher education institution in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.
Since the beginning of anti-regime protests in Bahrain in mid-February, Manama has launched a harsh crackdown on anti-government protesters, rounding up senior opposition figures and activists in dawn raids and arresting doctors, nurses, lawyers and journalists who have voiced support for the protest movement.
Scores of protesters have been killed and many others have gone missing ever since the protests broke out.

Bahrain 'Committed to Reforms' as Martial Law Ends

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Bahrain's crown prince, widely seen as a moderate, said in a statement he was committed to the reform path and said the Gulf state would listen to both domestic and international concerns.
"Undoubtedly, mistakes have been made by all sides during the recent period, but lessons are being learnt," Sheikh Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa said.
"With the end of the [emergency] days..., substantial activity is underway to comprehensively address core issues of national and international concern," Sheikh Salman said.
"Bahrain is fully committed to continuous reform, a programme led by His Majesty King Hamad over the past decade.
"However... the speed of progress must be guided by the ability to achieve consensus," said the crown prince.
Bahrain is eager to show that stability has returned after the upheaval in which at least 30 people have been martyred since protests erupted in February.
It plans to lift a state of emergency next week that was imposed when the government quashed the protest movement.
It now hopes for a return to normalcy on June 1, following the end of night curfew in Manama this week.

5/25/2011

Iranian scientist tortured in Bahrain


(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Dr. Masoud Jahromi, who was the head of the Telecommunications Engineering Department at the Ahlia University of Bahrain, is suffering brutal torture in the hands of Bahraini government forces, Atynews news network reported on Tuesday.
Jahromi was arrested in the early hours of March 30. He has since been taken to an unknown location and his family, students and colleagues are extremely concerned about his wellbeing.
Masoud Jahromi earned his master's degree in Control and Information Technology from the University of Manchester, UK. He later earned his PhD degree from the University of Kent in Canterbury.
Since the beginning of anti-regime protests in Bahrain in mid-February, Manama has launched a harsh crackdown on anti-government protesters, rounding up senior opposition figures and activists in dawn raids and arresting doctors, nurses, lawyers and journalists that have voiced support for the protest movement.
While the whereabouts of many detainees are still unknown, Bahraini authorities have began to prosecute a number of detained activists in what the opposition calls kangaroo courts.
Protesters have been charged with several counts, including attempting to overthrow the monarchy. They are being tried in a special security court set up under martial law.
Rights groups and families of those arrested during the government crackdown on protesters have blamed Bahraini security authorities for mistreating anti-government protesters, saying they are being abused physically and mentally.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have bitterly criticized the Persian Gulf sheikhdom's government for its brutal crackdown on civilians.
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Protests in Syria - Not over yet

May 23rd 2011, 13:22 by The Economist online
THIS weekend in Syria was one of the bloodiest since protests began in March. Forty-four people were shot dead on Friday. On Saturday a further eleven were killed in the central city of Homs while attending funerals of those who died there the day before.
Driving into Homs during the week, the city feels normal, bar a checkpoint on entry. People do their shopping and sip coffee in the centre of town. But on Fridays Homs feels like a city under siege. Yellow plastic signs, rocks and dustbins are set up as roadblocks. Gunshots echo around the streets of restless neighbourhoods. On the outskirts of the city tanks inexpertly plastered with pictures of Bashar Assad, the Syrian president, lie close to a mall with its windows blown out. Soldiers loll on patches grass. Sandbags mark the corners of troubled neighbourhoods. In the evening the atmosphere is intimidating and threatening. Checkpoints proliferate, manned by armed personnel in plain clothes. Some are the security forces and some from Alawite gangs, say residents.
The security forces have blocked protesters from reaching the town's central New Clock square since a large sit-in took place on April 18th which was violently broken up. Around the square, windows are still boarded up. But Homs's protesters-young men for the most part-are defiant. Dressed in tracksuits and with flushed faces after Friday's protests, they are eager to talk. They all say the same thing: they are angry that they cannot find work, angry that they cannot earn enough money to buy the houses they need to get married. They are tired the pervasive control exercised by the security forces who have to sign off on everything. And they are fed up with the city's rampant corruption.
These young men may be the face of the protests, but they are supported at home by angry women and an older generation outraged by the killings, the torture of those arrested and the transformation of their city into a patchwork of no-go areas. On Fridays families turn their houses into temporary hospitals where doctors scurry to treat the injured and count the number killed. Banging his hands on the table in frustration, a doctor explains how last Friday one man died of a gunshot wound to his leg because he bled for two hours but could not be taken to hospital. People have been arrested to carrying medical supplies. Older residents drive around warning protesters gathering on street corners when security forces are near. Many have offered shelter in their homes to those fleeing the gunfire on the streets.
The rebellion in Homs, Syria's third city and the biggest to be hit by sustained unrest, is the most significant challenge to Mr Assad. Far from the glare of the media, small protests are popping up in the city's poor neighbourhoods on a nightly basis. Syria's uprising has been driven by the poorer villages and towns-where the ruling Baath Party has lost its ideological pull-so Homs is an important marker. After smaller protests and fewer deaths the previous Friday, some commentators thought that Mr Assad looked safe. But demonstrations are spreading across the country and numbers were up this week. Previously the government tried to discourage protests on Fridays by hinting at reforms on Thursdays. It is no longer even bothering to do that. Those reforms that were offered, such as the lifting of Syria's emergency law and the granting of citizenship to the Kurds, have not been carried out or have been done only symbolically.
A national dialogue, announced last Friday, has failed to get off the ground with almost all of the government's opponents unwilling to enter talks and the government showing a notable absence of sincerity. America has imposed sanctions on Syria. Last Thursday Barack Obama called for Mr Assad to lead a political transition or "get out of the way", words echoed two days later by the Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu. It is hard to imagine Mr Assad doing either. Sectarian hatred is being stirred in cities such as Homs and Banias where Alawite and Sunni neighbourhoods are sandwiched together. Frustrated protesters, keen to keep a predominantly peaceful uprising that way, see a long and violent road ahead.
 

AFRICA/SUDAN -"The population is fleeing from Abyei under the rain and is at risk of epidemics

AFRICA/SUDAN-"The population is fleeing from Abyei under the rain and is at risk of epidemics, no one helps them" dramatic appeal of the parish priest and the Apostolic Administrator
Khartoum - "The population fleeing from the city is still moving towards south, " says Fr. Peter Suleiman, pastor of Abyei to Fides, a town on the border between north and south Sudan, occupied by troops in Khartoum on 21 May. "The government of Bahr el Ghazal is sending vehicles to transport people fleeing on foot. From what I know, so far there are no humanitarian organizations on the ground to help these people, who are without shelter under the rain, without food or medicine, " says Fr. Suleiman.
"There are about 19-20 thousand people totally without any humanitarian assistance, " confirms Mgr. Roko Taban Mousa, Apostolic Administrator of Malakal to Fides. "Nobody seems to pay attention to the drama of these people. If this situation continues, many people, especially children and the elderly will certainly die. The displaced are under the rain, without shelter, with the risk of the spread of cholera and malaria. It is an appalling situation and a solution must be found by everyone, " concludes Msgr. Taban. (L.M.)
(Agenzia Fides 25/05/2011)

AFRICA/SUDAN -"Abyei is a dead town: all the inhabitants have fled" the local priest says to Fides


Abyei (Agenzia Fides) - "We have fragmented news from Abyei, but according to what we managed to find out the residents have evacuated the city, which is now empty," the priest of Abyei told Fides, who was not in town at the moment of conquest by the forces of northern Sudan, on Saturday, May 21. "According to a UN press release, there are approximately 50 thousand IDPs from the area, between Abyei town and surrounding villages. It is a humanitarian disaster, because these people are without assistance - says the priest -. The forces from the north have conquered Abyei after having bombed it for two days with heavy weapons"
The occupation of Abyei from the troops of Khartoum has been condemned by the European Union and the UN Security Council which has asked the Sudanese government for the immediate withdrawal of its troops from the area. The authorities in Khartoum said they had intervened in Abyei in response to an ambush to their military convoy which was under the UNMIS (the UN Mission in Sudan) escort. A spokesman for the Khartoum authorities had accused the army of South Sudan (South People Liberation Army) to be responsible for the ambush that resulted in several deaths (see Fides 21/5/2011).
Abyei, is rich in oil and is disputed between north and south Sudan, in addition it is also the grazing area for some nomadic tribes that live between the north and south. On the basis of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in Nairobi in 2005 by the central government in Khartoum and the then SPLA rebels, the fate of the area of Abyei was to be decided by a referendum to be held simultaneously with that related to the independence of southern Sudan, which was held in January this year and saw the prevalence of the proponents of independence. The referendum on Abyei, however, was not held due to the differences over the voting rights of many nomads who live in the area at certain times of the year. (L.M.)
(Agenzia Fides 05/23/2011)

5/23/2011

IAA destroys more than 100000 publicatons in violations with publishing laws


Manama, May 22 (BNA) The Information Affairs Authority (IAA) Director of Publications and Publishing Nawaf Mohammed Al Mawadh stated that following directives of the IAA's President Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, the Publication and Publishing Directorate in coordination with the Public Prosecutor destroyed more than 100000 publications that are contrary to the laws and regulations. This action is considered the largest of its kind since the past five years, which included the seizure of large numbers of computer software, CD-ROMs and films in violation of the law regulating the press, printing and publishing and the copyright law and that related to rights and intellectual property laws.
Al Mawadh said that this process comes in the framework of the keenness of the Kingdom of Bahrain's commitment to international covenants and laws, and to protect the market and society from counterfeit and indecent publications, which are incompatible with the teachings of religion and morals of society. He also called upon all the dealers in these activities to provide the original copies and comply with regulations and laws that would enhance the prestige of the Kingdom of Bahrain in the application of laws and protection of works and literary and artistic publications.
http://bna.bh/portal/en/news/type/1

Activist Warns about Saudi Coup D'état in Bahrain

TEHRAN (FNA)- Member of Bahrain's Al-Wefaq National Society Ebrahim al-Madhoun warned that Saudi Arabia and Bahrain's Prime Minister have jointly planned a coup d'état to seize power in the tiny Persian Gulf island.
Madhoun told the Al-Alam news network that Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa controls security operations in Bahrain, "and forces loyal to the premier, known as the 'old guard', have taken certain actions against the Bahraini King, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa".
He further mentioned that the opposing parties in Bahrain are well aware that dismissal of the country's pro-Saudi Prime Minister would be a major positive step to soothe the current crisis in the Persian Gulf state.
"Hence, Saudi Arabia wants to make sure of the continued ruling of the Bahraini Prime Minister who has suppressed his nation for 40 years," he added.
To much surprise, the 75-year-old Bahraini premier is both the King's uncle and crown prince.
Earlier this month, sources inside the Bahraini regime reported widening gaps between the country's King and prime minister with armed clashes between forces of the two sides taking a mounting death toll.
Islam Times news website quoted unnamed sources as saying that differences and disputes between King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa had surfaced even in the public.
The report further mentioned that sporadic clashes between the two sides' forces had already left several people dead in different regions.
Sources also said that premier Khalifa bin Salman, who has warm and long-time relations with the al-Saud dynasty in Saudi Arabia, has strongly opposed giving concessions to protestors and has called for a harsher military crackdown on the popular uprising in Bahrain.
The report said the old premier had threatened to resign, and that Saudi Arabia had warned King al-Khalifa that it would send more troops to Bahrain to take the responsibility for dealing with protestors if bin Salman came to resign his premiership.
The gap between the Bahraini king and his uncle premier has been in place for long time now but it further widened after intensified clampdown on the defenseless Bahraini protestors.
The sources said the uncle-nephew confrontation has grown so badly that the prime minister has insulted the King by tearing apart Hamad bin Isa's picture in his presence.
Also, other sources confirmed that Bahraini security bodies, which are ruled by the Saudi-backed premier, have sent several threatening messages to the King to warn him against giving concessions to the revolutionary people or taking a tough stance against the prime minister.
Anti-government protesters have been holding peaceful demonstrations across Bahrain since mid-February, calling for an end to the Al Khalifa dynasty's over-40-year rule.
Violence against the defenseless people escalated after a Saudi-led conglomerate of police, security and military forces from the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar - were dispatched to the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom on March 13 to help Manama crack down on peaceful protestors.
Yet, protests and rallies continued throughout the country in defiance of the martial law put in place by Manama since last month.
During the recent days, Bahrainis have repeated their demand for the ouster of King Al Khalifa and condemned Riyadh's involvement in the suppression of the revolution.
People have announced that they will continue protests until the regime collapses.
Demonstrators have been demanding constitutional reforms as well as an end to the 230-year-old monarchy, with hundreds camping out peacefully in the capital's Pearl Square since February 14.
Bahraini and Saudi security forces have been brutally suppressing anti-government protestors. So far, tens of people have been killed, hundreds have gone missing and about 1,000 others have been injured.

5/22/2011

Saudi woman arrested for driving a car


(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - The Saudi Arabian authorities have detained a woman for defying the country's ban on female drivers and making efforts to embolden other women to follow suit.
The kingdom's religious police arrested Manal al-Sherif on Saturday after she challenged the ban by posting a video on Facebook and YouTube showing her behind the wheel of a car in the eastern city of Khobar, the Associated Press reported.
On their Facebook page, called "Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself," Sherif and a group of other women have launched a volunteer campaign with the aim of convincing the authorities to lift the prohibition.
Sherif was released a few hours later, according to the campaign's Twitter account, but the terms of her release were not immediately known.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world to ban women -- both Saudi and foreign -- from driving. Women are also barred from voting, except for chamber of commerce elections in two cities in recent years, while no woman can become a cabinet member.
Sherif and the other campaigners have focused on the importance of women driving in times of emergencies and the high expense of hiring a driver, especially for low-income families.
The women's Facebook campaign is calling for a mass women's drive on June 17, and more than 12,000 people who viewed the page have indicated they support the call.
On their page, the group says women joining the campaign should not challenge the authorities if they are stopped and questioned and should abide by the country's dress code.
"We want to live as complete citizens, without the humiliation that we are subjected to every day because we are tied to a driver," the Facebook message reads. "We are not here to break the law or demonstrate or challenge the authorities, we are here to claim one of our simplest rights."

5/21/2011

Iran Clamps down on US Spy Network, Arrests 30 CIA Agents

Saturday 21 May 2011

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian Intelligence Ministry announced on Saturday that it has identified and disbanded a large US spy network with tens of branches, centers and nodes in different world countries, adding that it has arrested 30 spies during the operation.
In a statement released on Saturday, the Intelligence Ministry said it could disband a "complex sabotage and espionage network affiliated to the US spy agency (CIA) following a series of extensive intelligence and counter-espionage measures and operations inside and outside Iran".
The statement further pointed out that senior CIA agents had created a number of nodes for this network in different world countries, and said these centers "which worked in disguise deceived Iranian citizens under different pretexts like job associations and educational centers to collect information and intelligence on Iran".
"The network used a wide range of data bases and US embassies and consulates in several countries, specially in the UAE, Malaysia and Turkey, to collect information on Iran's scientific, research and academic centers in areas of nuclear energy, air and defense industries and biotechnology," the Iranian Intelligence Ministry said.
The statement further pointed out that the US spy network also collected information on Iran's oil and gas pipelines, power and telecommunication grids, airports, customs departments, network security and banks for future sabotage operations.
"The skillful and faithful forces of the Intelligence Ministry have arrested a number of 30 American spies in their strong confrontation with the CIA agents," the statement said
The Intelligence Ministry also stated that it has succeeded in feeding misinformation to the CIA through a number of double-agents.
"Hence, not only was the CIA's heavy aggressive operation defused, but a number of 42 CIA field officers and operatives in different countries were identified by the Iranian Intelligence Ministry," it added.

5/20/2011

BAHRAIN: Student details, speaks out against government pledge


(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - The pledge was apparently distributed to students by campus police and security officials as they returned to classes Sunday. It comes after anti-government protests in February, mass arrests and charges against opposition activists. At least four activists have been sentenced to death for killing two officers during the protests, while others were sentenced earlier this week to one- to three-year terms in connection with the demonstrations. Many of those who oppose the Sunni-led monarchy, including those in detention, belong to the Shiite majority.
Bahraini government spokesmen did not return calls concerning the pledge Wednesday. The Bahrain News Agency previously reported that hundreds of thousands of Bahrainis allegedly volunteered to sign similar pledges to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa earlier this year.
Babylon & Beyond spoke with a student at the university and obtained a copy of the pledge distributed by this week in Arabic, which says:
"In accordance to this document I, the signatory below, confirm that I am a student attending the University of Bahrain, that my full allegiance is with the leadership of the Kingdom of Bahrain represented in His Majesty The King Hamad Bin Essa Al Khalifa, the King of the country may God guard and bless him and the wise government.


Why Bahrain Should to Be Front And Center in Obamas Middle East Speech


Bahrain is important to American geopolitical interests in the region.  It is the host of America's largest naval base in the Persian Gulf and it is also considered a bulwark against Iranian influence in the region. For that latter reason it is also a staunch ally (some would say client) of its neighbor, Saudi Arabia.  Saudi Arabia, of course, is also a long time American ally and major oil supplier.
So, on one side of the ledger for American policy on Bahrain you have: 1) oil interests 2) a huge military base 3) a geopolitical ally to help contain Iran.  On the other side, you have American commitment to human rights and democracy. Amidst a particularly brutal crackdown against activists since February, it would not be a stretch to believe that hard security interests have, so far, outweighed human rights in developing American policy on Bahrain.
Several dozen people have been killed; several hundred  brutalized; and the opposition has been completely decimated. (The top UN Human Rights Official says 1,000 people have been imprisoned, which is a massive figure considering the entire population of Bahrain is only about 500,000).  Yet, so far, the Obama administration has only issued some mild rebuke. It has not implemented any punitive measures against the Bahraini regime to demonstrate that it is truly supportive of the legitimate aspirations of the protest movement.
This shows which side the Obama administration is on-and, unfortunately, it is not the side of history. With the speech today, Obama has the opportunity to chart a new course.
Bahrain is the perfect proving ground to see whether or not this speech offers a meaningful re-balance of American policy in the region toward human rights and democracy

 

Evidence of Bahraini security forces' brutality revealed

http://www.abna.ir/
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - In a new report released today, Bloodied but Unbowed: Unwarranted State Violence against Bahraini Protesters, the organization documents how security forces used live ammunition and extreme force against protesters in February without warning and impeded and assaulted medical staff trying to help the wounded.
The report, which is based on first hand testimonies given to an Amnesty International team in Bahrain, comes as the country is gripped by further violence, after Saudi Arabian and UAE forces entered the small Gulf state three days ago and Bahrain's King declared a national state of emergency.
"It is alarming to see the Bahraini authorities now again resorting to the same tactics that they used against protesters in February but on an even more intensive scale,â said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.
It appears that the government has decided that the way to deal with protests is through violent repression, a totally unsustainable position and one which sets an ominous example in a region where other governments are also facing popular calls for change."
"The authorities must exercise proper control over the security forces, uphold and protect the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, including the right to peaceful protest."
Dr Hani Mowafi, a US medical doctor who was part of the Amnesty International team, found a pattern of fatal and serious injuries during February's violence showing that the security forces used live ammunition at close range, and apparently targeted protesters' heads, chests and abdomens. They also fired medium-to-large calibre bullets from high-powered rifles on 18 February.
The worst violence before today took place early on the morning of 17 February, when five people were killed. Witnesses told Amnesty International that, in scenes that would be repeated on 16 March, tanks blocked access to the Pearl Roundabout as police used shotguns as well as tear gas, batons and rubber bullets to disperse protesters, many of whom were camping there.
One witness told Amnesty International that on 17 February riot police were shooting from different angles, including from a bridge over the roundabout, while protesters desperately ran for cover.
Among the injured were people clearly identifiable as medical workers, who were targeted by police while trying to help wounded protesters at or near the roundabout.
On 3 March Bahrain's Minister of Social Development, visiting London, told Amnesty International that the Bahraini government was holding an investigation into the killings that would report directly to the King, and that two members of the security forces had been taken into custody. Amnesty International is calling for an independent investigation that is both thorough and transparent.
"All the actions of the security forces against protesters since February must be fully and independently investigated. Those responsible for ordering and unleash lethal force against peaceful protesters must be identified and held to account.â??
"There must be no impunity for unlawful killings, assaults and other abuses against both protesters and medical staff."
Amnesty International has identified some of the ammunition found in the aftermath of the raid on Pearl Roundabout on 17 February.
They include US-made tear gas canisters, US-made 37mm rubber multi-baton rounds, French-made tear gas grenades, and French-made rubber â dispersionâ grenades, which fragment into 18 pieces and produce a loud sound effect.
Amnesty International called on governments who supply weapons to Bahrain to immediately suspend the transfer of weapons, munitions and related equipmenthat could be used to commit further human rights violations, and to urgently review all arms supplies and training support to Bahrain's military, security and police forces.
Following the Bahraini security forces' use of unwarranted force against protesters, the UK government revoked some licences for arms exports to Bahrain, and the French authorities have suspended the export of security equipment to Bahrain.


5/19/2011

Obama set for outreach to skeptical Arab world

By Matt Spetalnick
WASHINGTON | Thu May 19, 2011 7:07am EDT
(Reuters) - President Barack Obama will lay out a new U.S. strategy toward a skeptical Arab world on Thursday, offering fresh aid to promote democratic change as he seeks to shape the outcome of popular uprisings threatening both friends and foes.
In his much-anticipated "Arab spring" speech, Obama will try to reset relations with the Middle East, but his outreach could falter amid Arab frustration over an uneven U.S. response to the region's revolts and his failure to advance Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.
Obama is expected to unveil new economic aid packages to bolster political transitions in Egypt and Tunisia, nudge autocratic allies like Yemen and Bahrain to undertake reforms and harden his line against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Struggling to regain the initiative in a week of intense Middle East diplomacy, Obama is seizing what the White House called a "window of opportunity" in the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs.
"Having wound down the Iraq war ... and having taken out Osama bin Laden, we are beginning to turn the page to a more positive and hopeful future for U.S. policy in the region," a senior administration official told reporters in previewing parts of the president's speech.
Obama aims to articulate a more coherent approach for dealing with unprecedented political upheaval that has swept the Middle East and North Africa in recent months, upending decades of U.S. diplomatic assumptions.
His speech, set for 11:40 a.m. EDT at the State Department, is meant to counter criticism that he has been slow and inconsistent in responding to the swirl of events.
But he is not expected to stray far from his approach of balancing support for democratic aspirations with a desire to preserve longtime partnerships seen as crucial to fighting al Qaeda, containing Iran and securing vital oil supplies.
However, the risk for Obama is that his policy blueprint, calibrated for an audience ranging from the Arab masses to Middle Eastern leaders to the American public and lawmakers, will be too vague and nuanced to satisfy any of them.
Easier to predict is that he will stoke Arab disappointment with what will be left out -- fresh U.S. proposals for breaking the impasse between Israel and the Palestinians.
The decades-old conflict remains a central preoccupation of the Arab world.
GLOW FADES AFTER CAIRO SPEECH
While Obama will renew his call for the two sides to return to the table after talks broke down late last year over Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank, his push is not expected to be forceful enough to revive negotiations.
Neither is any significant progress expected when Obama holds talks on Friday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom he has had a strained relationship.
Obama had raised hopes with his 2009 speech in Cairo promising a "new beginning" with the Muslim world after years of estrangement under his predecessor, George W. Bush.
But the glow has faded and polls show anti-Americanism on the rise again.
Unlike Obama's Cairo speech, Thursday's address will focus on new flashpoints in the Arab world. He is not expected to use the chance to present an overarching strategy to supplant the case-by-case response he has applied so far, aides say.
"It won't be a one-size-fits all policy from the United States, but it will be a recognition that we need pragmatically to see that change is coming and try to shape it," said Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress in Washington.
The administration's announcement on Wednesday of its first sanctions directly targeting Assad over Syria's violent crackdown on protests was seen in part as an attempt to quell criticism that Washington was responding too cautiously.
Obama's domestic opponents have also accused him of acting too timidly in Libya to break the stalemate between Muammar Gaddafi and rebels trying to oust him, and of not being tough enough with autocratic allies in Yemen and Bahrain.
Trying to show reform efforts will not go unrewarded, Obama will use his speech to unveil aid plans for Egypt and Tunisia, where longtime rulers were toppled by popular revolts.
Senior advisers to Obama said the United States would offer debt relief totaling roughly $1 billion over a few years to Egypt. Washington would also guarantee up to $1 billion in borrowing for Egypt to finance infrastructure development and boost jobs, the officials said.

5/18/2011

Under the sky of Manama, Bahrain

The slaves in the area of Nuwaidrat attacked and almost killed nine policemen, were in serious condition. Retaliation for pressures in that area.
Salmanya quite normal, Dana Mall, manned by army checkpoints saltmarsh, all Sanabis each manned by two policemen came to sit on the chairs ... police cars with police officers anywhere in the Seef helmet maroon ... City Center have moved military camp near the Mall, and is' a field full-scale ... a lot of trucks, light vehicles ... field kitchen services which ... ... a myriad of tents. I think at least 500 men, towards Manama roadblocks, checkpoints in the direction of Pearl.
Deans in the Diplomatic Area, trucks on the road to the airport, and French banks and local area.
E 'following the period of prayer for Fatima Zahra.
Police officers now have the right to open fire on anyone who does not slow down within the vicinity of 200 meters at any check point.

5/16/2011

Medical and humanitarian emergency continues as violence persists in Ivory Coast


Médecins Sans Frontières
The medical and humanitarian emergency in Ivory Coast persists as violence rages in several neighbourhoods in Abidjan, and security in the west of the country remains critically unstable, with populations hiding in fear in the bush without access to food, water or medical aid. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is deeply concerned for the lives and health of civilians living in fear, which blocks them from seeking critical medical care.
In the west, post-election violence intensified intercommunal tension and land rivalry, and today the population continues to live in terror of militias and reprisal attacks, particularly in the forested bush areas near the Liberian border.
"Looted and destroyed villages remain deserted, with several burnt bodies still lying along the roads between Guiglo and Toulepleu. MSF teams in the area are now treating wounds inflicted two to three weeks ago for people who did not dare come out of hiding to seek medical care until now. These people are still terrified, so they wait until their condition is critical to seek medical care. The displaced people are too afraid to return to their homes in case the violence is not yet over," said Xavier Simon, MSF Head of Mission in Ivory Coast.
On the other side of the border, MSF teams in Liberia are treating newly arrived refugees, including children, with wounds inflicted between two to three weeks ago. They tell MSF staff of traumatic violence experienced in the Ivorian bush during brutal attacks, as recent as 11 days ago, involving intimidation, kidnapping, rape, and the burning of people alive. Even when they reach the Liberian side, safety is not guaranteed for these refugees, with incidences of militias crossing the border from Ivory Coast at night, threatening, beating and demanding food.
"We don't know how many people are still hiding in fear in the Ivorian bush, or what levels of violence they may be currently exposed to, but the horrific stories we have heard from people are cause for alarm. We increased our mobile clinics up to 12 to reach the most vulnerable, but it still remains too insecure to access the deepest bush to assess needs," continued Simon. "It is imperative that civilians are not deliberately targeted in any violence, and that they are able to safely seek life-saving medical care and humanitarian assistance."
Conditions for displaced people in Ivory Coast are also increasingly cause for concern, with many living outside without shelter in the rainy season or in overcrowded unhygienic conditions in camps.  In addition, the risk of outbreaks of measles, meningitis and watery diarrhea are increasing, with isolated cases already appearing.

 

Amnesty International Report

Arab spring hope in the balance

BBC NEWS

12 May 2011
Amnesty: Arab freedom struggle 'on knife edge'
A fightback by repressive governments is putting at risk a historic struggle for freedom and justice in the Arab world, Amnesty International says.
Publishing its annual report, the rights group highlights the fight for control over communications technology.
It criticises Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen for targeting peaceful protesters to stay in power.
And it says repressive regimes in China, Iran and Azerbaijan have tried to pre-empt uprisings.
The campaign group released its report on human rights around the world following months of mass demonstrations in the Middle East and North Africa.
Long-serving presidents in Tunisia and Egypt have been toppled, but leaders in other states have tried to face down protests with a combination of political concessions and the use of force.
'Governments scrambling'
Amnesty said the outcome of the uprisings was "on a knife-edge".
Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International, paid tribute to youthful protesters who were "standing up and speaking out in the face of bullets, beatings, tear gas and tanks".
"This bravery - combined with new technology that is helping activists to outflank and expose government suppression of free speech and peaceful protest - is sending a signal to repressive governments that their days are numbered," he said.
"But there is a serious fightback from the forces of repression. The international community must seize the opportunity for change and ensure that 2011 is not a false dawn for human rights."
Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, which have resisted anti-government movements, "have shown a willingness to beat, maim or kill peaceful protesters to stay in power", Amnesty said in a statement.
And it pointed to a "critical battle" for control of access to information, means of communications and networking technology.
"Governments are scrambling to regain the initiative or to use this technology against activists," the group said.
It called on companies that provide internet access, mobile communications and social networking sites to respect human rights and not become accomplices to repressive governments.
European deportations
Amnesty's main report documents the state of human rights in 157 countries and territories worldwide during 2010. The group also published a special update on the Middle East and North Africa in the first four months of this year.
In its report Amnesty raises concern over:
conflict wreaking havoc in a number of sub-Saharan African states, including the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia
a deteriorating situation for activists in Ukraine, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan
a growing willingness by European countries to send people back to states where they risk persecution
increasing threats to indigenous peoples in the Americas
Amnesty also pointed to gains, including the release of political prisoners and the dissolution of internal security forces blamed for repression in Tunisia and Egypt.
The main report noted the steady retreat of the death penalty, improvements to maternal health care in countries including Indonesia and Sierra Leone, and progress in bringing to justice those responsible for abuses under Latin American military regimes.
 

SIRYA, 8881 Persons Involved in Riots Turn themselves in and are Released

DAMASCUS, (SANA) - An official source at the Interior Ministry on Monday said the number of those involved in riot and vandalism acts who turned themselves in to the authorities by Monday reached 8881 persons to date from different governorates.
The source added that they were all released after pledging not to repeat any act that may harm the security of the homeland and citizens.
The source indicated that the Ministry had extended the date in which they will be exempted from punishment and legal consequences until May, 22nd as many persons in connection with rioting are still coming to police stations to turn themselves in.
M. Nassr/ al-Ibrahim
Agency: http://www.sana.sy/

MSF, Bahrain - From hospital to prison

13 May 2011
On the continuing and unacceptable assault on the provision of impartial medical aid in Bahrain, where wounded patients remain too terrified to seek healthcare, and raids on health facilities plus arrests of medical staff continue.

In the kingdom of Bahrain, to be wounded by security forces has become a reason for arrest and providing healthcare has become grounds for a jail sentence. During the current civil unrest, Bahraini health facilities have consistently been used as a tool in the military crackdown, backed by the Gulf Cooperation Council, against protestors. The muted response from key allies outside of the region such as the U.S. - who has significant ties to Bahrain, including a vast naval base in the country - can only be interpreted as acceptance of the ongoing military assault on the ability to provide and receive impartial healthcare.
While the government and its supporters in Bahrain continue to refer to the protestors as ‘rioters', ‘criminals, ‘extremists', ‘insurgents' or ‘terrorists', the label that remains conspicuously absent for those who are wounded is ‘patient'.  Since April 7, when Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF) first raised the alarm about the situation, our team has seen patients in villages across the country who were severely beaten or tortured in jail; schoolgirls who have been both physically abused and threatened with rape; and patients in urgent need of hospitalization who still refuse to be referred due to the high risk of their arrest.
The militarization of the only public hospital, Salmaniya, persists. Although Ministry of Health statistics show an increase in patients accessing the hospital, tanks and security checkpoints are still manned by masked soldiers at its entrances, searching cars and people. The wounded tell MSF that they are still too afraid to go to the hospital in case of being arrested or beaten in the wards.
Doctors and nurses also continue to be arrested during raids on health facilities, or on their homes at night. In fact, forty-seven medical staff are now being prosecuted by the Bahraini authorities. Within Bahrain, the medical community itself is polarized. Many oppose the blatant militarization of medical assistance, while others support the military presence in the hospital and the legal charges against fellow health workers. However, the impact on the patients is often disregarded.
By dragging the health system deeper into the political crackdown on dissent, Bahraini authorities continue to undermine patient's trust in health facilities. All of the 88 people that MSF has managed to see in their homes are at risk of being arrested if they were to present themselves at health facilities - simply for being wounded in protests by government forces. Some of them need to go to hospitals for surgery or x-rays - but MSF is unable to safely refer them.
This is because hospitals in Bahrain have received directives that any patient who presents with wounds associated with the current unrest must be reported to the police by health staff. While there is a legal provision to report trauma cases to judicial authorities in many countries, this is designed to assist and protect victims of violence. However, in Bahrain today, the reality is that hospitals are being used to catch and imprison wounded people.
Our medical teams then face the impossible choice of knowing that patients who need medical attention risk arrest and a serious deterioration of their health condition in prison. MSF has seen the results of violence and torture perpetrated against those imprisoned, caused by beatings with iron rods, boots, hoses and cattle prods on the back, legs, buttocks, genitals and soles of the feet. MSF has also seen the serious impact of psychological abuse on those arrested, including extreme anxiety and fear as a result of sexual harassment and humiliation.
Ensuring the safe and impartial provision of treatment for the wounded is a basic legal obligation under humanitarian law. It is entailed in mandatory provisions of Common Article 3 to the 1949 Geneva Conventions - and is valid at all times. Thus, as a state party to these Conventions, the Bahraini authorities must respect its obligations regarding the protection and provision of health care to the sick, injured and prisoners.
This healthcare should be provided by the high quality Bahraini health system, without precluding the offer of medical services by an impartial humanitarian organization such as MSF.  Although we now have authorization to begin training Bahraini health workers to deal with psychological trauma, other crucial assistance remains blocked. Our requests to set up a referral system, whereby MSF can accompany wounded patients to health facilities to ensure they receive lifesaving care,  are still met with insufficient guarantees about their safety.
The national security agenda of Bahraini authorities must not come at the expense of the lives and health of wounded people, whether in hospital or prison. Doctors and nurses must be allowed to provide healthcare in line with medical ethics, without the fear of reprisal. This is impossible when health facilities are used as bait for arrest and torture, with the support of Bahrain's closest allies.

Women pay the price for neglect in northeastern Uganda

May 2011
Chronic violence and neglect in parts of northeastern Uganda's Karamoja region means 70 percent of the population has no access to any kind of health care.


Chronic violence and neglect in parts of northeastern Uganda's Karamoja region means 70 percent of the population has no access to any kind of health care. This affects women the most - maternal mortality rates here are 75 percent higher than the national average. MSF goals in Karamoja's Kaabong district are to strengthen government health services and to reach people who otherwise can't get to health facilities.

Yemen: MSF ambulance hit by stray bullet

12 May 2011
MSF reminds the need to respect humanitarian medical activities.

SANAA/PARIS  - Amidst heavy clashes yesterday in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) ambulance being used to transport patients to surgical facilities throughout the day was struck by a stray bullet.
Clashes between pro-government forces and demonstrators led to intense fighting near Kuwait Hospital, as protestors attempted to march to the former prime minister's office. Throughout the afternoon MSF ambulances referred close to 30 severely wounded people in need of surgical care from the scene of the clashes to hospitals and private clinics. The vast majority of patients suffered gunshot wounds. At least one of those people died.
At around 10:30 PM, as one of the MSF ambulances approached the conflict zone, the vehicle was hit by a stray bullet. There were no casualties among medical staff on board.
 "The bullet entered through the back window," said Dr. Vipul Chowdhary, MSF's representative in Yemen. "Luckily, no patients were inside the vehicle at the time and the driver and nurse who were inside were not harmed. MSF reminds all parties of the absolute need to respect humanitarian medical work and staff in Sana'a and the rest of the country."
Yesterday, MSF teams visited medical facilities in Sanaa, including public hospitals, private clinics, and health centers set up by demonstrators in order to assess needs and provide medical support. MSF continues to support a private clinic with donations of medical materials and drugs. Fourteen severely wounded people underwent surgery in the clinic yesterday.
Since the beginning of unrest, MSF teams have been intervening in Sanaa, Taiz, and Aden to help medical facilities cope with the influx of wounded people. MSF is donating medical materials and drugs, providing training to Yemeni medical staff, and offering additional ambulances to refer severely wounded people to surgical facilities.
In Taiz, where heavy clashes have also occurred over recent days, MSF ambulances referred eight people with severe gunshot wounds between Sunday evening and Monday morning, among whom five died.
In addition, MSF continues to operate regular medical programs in Saada, Hajjah, Amran, Aden and Lahj governorates, as well as in the city of Sanaa.

Amnesty Internation, Africa Human Rights

Amnesty International monitors and campaigns on all countries in Africa, where human rights abuses are occurring on a daily basis. Human rights defenders are often at risk of harm, sexual and gender-based violence is a regular phenomenon, and the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are often denied, to name just a few violations.
Amnesty International lobbies the US Government to take action on the following issues in particular:
Justice & Accountability: Human rights abuses, such as sexual and gender-based violence and crimes against humanity, often go unpunished in many countries. The US Government has a duty and an opportunity to support judicial sector reform in countries throughout Africa, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, and to support complementarily justice mechanisms, such as the International Criminal Court's investigations into atrocities committed in Darfur, Sudan.
 
Civilian Protection: Amnesty International encourages the US Government to support measures to protect civilians in situations of conflict, primarily through supporting UN Peacekeeping missions.
 
Extractives Industries: Amnesty International campaigns to support measures to end irresponsible business practices, such as gas flaring and oil spills in the Niger Delta, toxic waste dumping in Cote d'Ivoire, and the trade in conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
 
Forced Evictions: Forced evictions and housing demolitions occur on a regular basis in many countries, such as in Chad, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, and Zimbabwe. Amnesty International campaigns to bring to an end all illegal forced evictions and to ensure reparations for the victims


Amnesty International: Debate and Vote on Anti-Homosexuality Legislation

May 13, 2011
(New York) -- Amnesty International expressed relief today that the Uganda Parliament failed to debate and vote on a draconian anti-homosexuality bill.

Ugandan and international rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have been campaigning for Parliament to reject the bill, which proposed life imprisonment for entering into a same-sex marriage.
The bill would have allowed the death penalty for homosexual acts in some cases. Parliament was dissolved on Friday without any new legislation being discussed.
"We are relieved that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was not passed into law today," said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International's deputy director for Africa.
"This bill would have institutionalized the discrimination, including harassment and arbitrary arrests, that LGBT people in Uganda already face."
New Members of Parliament will be sworn in next week and the bill could be reintroduced at that time.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, strimel@aiusa.org

Fatima Zahra (A.S.): The Supreme Example of a Perfect Human Being

Holy Fatima (s.a.) belongs to the noblest family ever existing throughout the whole history of mankind. Her distinguished father was the very last messenger of Allah, a personality that the Holy Koran introduces him as Oswatun Hasanah (the Best Paradigm). Mother of Holy Fatima (s.a) was a pure lady named Khadija, a godly woman with unparalleled virtues and merits, who dedicated all her wealth for the sake of promotion of Islam.

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - According to the Islamic calendar, Hazrat Fatima Zahra (s.a.) was born in the 20th day of Arabic lunar month Jamadi al-Thani, five years after Bi'tha (appointment of Hazrat Mohammad (s.a.) to the position of divine prophethood) and 8 years before Hegira (immigration of the Holy Prophet from Mecca to Medina).
The story of her birth is a wonderful one. The Holy Prophet (s.a.) - through a divine command - was ordered to seclude himself from contact with Khadija (s.a.) for 40 days. Despite all his love for his dear wife, the Holy Prophet (s.a.) did not go home in compliance with Allah's order. During the whole 40-day period of his seclusion, Mohammad (s.a.) was engaged in prayers, fasting, and spiritual connections with his Lord. The Holy Prophet (a.s.) had sent a courier to Khadija to notify her of the matter and assure her that there was nothing wrong with her and that the event had happened as a result of Allah's command.
When the seclusion stage came to its end, at the time of Iftar (while the Holy Prophet (s.a.) was preparing himself to end his fasting by eating food), he heard the familiar voice of Archangel Gabriel: "Allah sends His salaams to you! Get ready to receive the celestial gift from your Lord!" Then angels brought down a tray full of heavenly fruits for Mohammad (s.a.). Gabriel (a.s.) told him: "Eat from this heavenly dish tonight; then go to Khadija; Almighty Allah has willed to create a pure child out of this blissful food."
Thus Fatima (s.a.) was conceived from the fruits of paradise. Nine months passed. During her pregnancy, Khadija (s.a.) talked to the baby in her womb; a baby, who turned out to be the most supreme lady among the mankind from the very first to the last.
Finally Archangel Gabriel brought glad tidings to the Holy Prophet (s.a.): "O Messenger of God! This baby is a much dignified daughter. All your offspring and descendants shall be descended from her. She is the mother of Infallible Imams: the religious leaders who shall be your successors when the divine revelation would end (after your demise)." The Holy Prophet (s.a.) transmitted the good tidings to Khadija (s.a.) to make her heart happy with the promising news.
Some years earlier, when Khadija had married Mohammad (s.a.), the aristocratic ladies of her tribe (entitled Quraysh) left her alone and cut off their relations with her as an objection to her decision in marrying Mohammad.
When the time for childbirth approached, Khadija dispatched someone to go to the ladies of Quraysh and ask them to help her in the process of giving birth to her baby, but they refused to help Khadija even at that difficult time.
At that crucial moment, when Khadija had lost hope to receive any help from the ladies of Quraysh, she sought assistance from her Lord. By the grace of Allah, four of the most beautiful women in white dressings came to help her in that time of need. They had bowls of heavenly water in their hands. Each one began to introduce herself. The first one said, "I am your foremother, Eve". The second one said, "I am Asiya daughter of Muzahim, Pharaoh's wife". The third one said, "I am Kulthum, Moses' sister", and the fourth one said, "I am Mariam (Saint Mary) daughter of Imran, mother of Jesus Christ; we have come to deliver your child".
So with the help of these heavenly ladies, Fatima (s.a.) was delivered, and the brightness and brilliance of her face illuminated the sky from east to west. The four holy ladies bathed the baby with heavenly water, wrapped her in heavenly clothes, and put her on the lap of Khadija (s.a.).
The baby was named Fatima, because she and her followers shall be protected from the fire of hell.
The news of Fatima's birth reached the Holy Prophet (s.a.). He was extremely delighted to hear the joyful news. He perceived that the divine promise of giving him the Kawthar (the Abundant Blessing) had been fulfilled.
At the same time that the birth of Holy Fatima (s.a.) had made the Holy Prophet and Khadija (a.s.) happy, the enemies of Islam became disappointed and upset as they used to call the Holy Prophet as Abtar - i.e. the one who shall be without posterity (as all his children had died due to different reasons) - but now they saw that he was given an abundant blessing through the birth of Holy Fatima (s.a.).
The love and respect of the Holy Prophet and Khadija (a.s.) for Fatima (s.a.) nullified all the wrong ideas of that day's Arab World, who considered ‘having daughter' as a shame for themselves.
Fatima Al-Zahra (s.a.) grew up in an atmosphere of human virtues, on the lap of a pure mother, and under the training of the Holy Prophet. She obtained all merits and spiritual qualities in its perfect shape.
The behavior of Holy Prophet toward his daughter Fatima was wonderful. In that day's world when the most violent behaviors were shown against women and girls, at a time when ‘burying little newborn daughters alive' was accounted as a routine act, the Holy Prophet (s.a) showed much respect to his dear daughter. Whenever Fatima (s.a) came to see the Holy Prophet (s.a.), he welcomed her, stood up to show respect to her, and even kissed her hand and made her sit at his own place.
On every occasion that the Holy Prophet (s.a) decided to go on a journey, Fatima was the last one to whom he bade farewell, and as soon as he came back from his trip, Fatima was the first one whom the Holy Prophet visited.
Imam Baqir (a.s.) and Imam Sadiq (a.s.) have related that the Holy Prophet (s.a.) never slept unless he kissed the face of Fatima (s.a.) and placed his face on hers.
A good way to know Holy Fatima (s.a) is to look through her names. Each of her names and titles is a mirror to reflect her outstanding qualities.
In a narration, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) is quoted as saying: "Fatima (s.a.) has nine names given by Almighty Allah: Fatima, Seddiqah, Mubarakah, Tahirah, Zakiyyah, Raaziyah, Marziyyah, Muhaddathah, and Zahra."
1) Fatima; means separated and protected from ignorance and impurity, and the one who is kept away from the fire of hell; the one who is adorned with all virtues, merits, and purities; and the one who shall save herself and all her followers and lovers from the fire of hell.
2) Seddiqah; means extremely honest; this title points out the degree of Fatima's honesty and truthfulness as one of her outstanding qualities.
3) Mubarakah; or blessed; as she was granted much blessings by Allah (S.W.T), and she herself was a source of abundant blessings. The offspring of the Holy Prophet all are descended from Fatima (s.a.).
4) Taahirah; pure and chaste; as she was purified along with other members of the Household [Ahlul-Bayt] of the Holy prophet according to verse 33 of Surah Al-Ahzab in the Holy Koran: "Verily, Allah desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O People of the House! And to purify you a (thorough) purifying..."
5) Zakiyyah; the purified soul; purified from any kind of pollution or deficiency, a quality that made her attain the highest level of spiritual evolution and perfection.
6) Raaziyah; the one who is content with Allah's wills, surrenders herself to all that Allah (S.W.T) has predestined for her, and endures pains in the way of mission of Allah's Messenger.
7) Marziyyah; the one, with whom Allah and His Messenger and the Holy Imam are fully satisfied because of her impeccable worship, nice moralities, good fulfillment of duties, and all her good deeds.
8) Muhaddathah; the one to whom the angels talked, the matchless lady who received some sort of divine inspirations. In this relation, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) is quoted as saying: "Fatima (s.a.) was named as Muhaddathah as an angel came to her continuously and talked to her in the same way that it (the angel) used to talk to Saint Mary. The angel told Fatima: "O Fatima! Allah (S.W.T) has selected you, purified you, and made you superior to all women throughout the world."
9) Zahra; means luminous; as when she stood in her praying place, the angels in the heavens witnessed a glittering light, just like the starlight in the sky that glitters for the people on the earth.
The childhood period of Holy Fatima (s.a.) coincided with the most critical years of early Islam. She was only two years old when Muslims faced the hard conditions of economic siege - imposed by the infidels - and were forced to live in a confined area in Mecca, known as "She'b Abitalib". The three-year period of living in this area was actually a terrible experience for early Muslims. The distinguished daughter of Holy Prophet (s.a.), too, passed three years of her best childhood ages under these harsh conditions. However, she still enjoyed being within the warm arms of her mother. Before long, she lost her dear mother as well. That bitter event was a spiritual shock for her at that age, and seriously hurt her delicate feelings. Afterwards, Fatima was the only companion, supporter, and source of alleviation for her father at home. Whenever the Holy Prophet (s.a.) looked at her, he summoned up the remembrance of his faithful wife, Khadija (s.a.).
The Holy Prophet (s.a.) loved Fatima so much. Sometimes he (s.a.) said: "May her father be sacrificed for her". Thus he expressed his deep love for her dignified daughter. Sometimes he (s.a.) called her as Umme Abiha, which means the Mother of Her Father. Also in some cases the Holy Prophet (s.a.) repeated: "Fatima is a part of my body."
Finally the Holy prophet (s.a.) emigrated from Mecca to Medina. A few days later, Imam Ali (a.s.), Holy Fatima (s.a.), and a number of other Muslim women left Mecca for Medina.
Fatima grew up and reached the age of marriage. There were many wealthy and high-ranking men who wished to marry her, but they all received the same answer from the Holy Prophet (s.a.): "I am looking forward to receiving Allah's command on the marriage of my daughter."
Fatima Al-Zahra (s.a) was the only match for Imam Ali (a.s.); and Ali was the only match for Fatima.
That was why when Imam Ali (a.s.) proposed to marry Fatima (s.a.), the Holy Prophet (s.a.) replied: "Your marriage contract is signed in the Heavens."
Thus, Holy Fatima (s.a.) entered the house of Imam Ali (a.s.) and started her new life. With her spiritual sincerity and perfect faith & knowledge, Fatima (s.a.) turned the house of Imam Ali into a tranquil, safe shelter for him. Whenever Imam Ali came home - tired and exhausted from the people's unfair behaviors - Holy Fatima (s.a.) was the one who alleviated his sufferings and lessened his pains.
Ali and Fatima (may Allah send His infinite blessings upon them) had four children: Hasan, Hussein, Zainab, and Umm Kulthum.
Holy Fatima tried hard to train her children in the best way; and indeed she (s.a.) presented great personalities to the mankind's community. The infallible descendants of Holy Fatima (s.a.) are characters from whom all people shall benefit up to the Day of Resurrection; they are luminaries whose light shall guide all truth-seeking people to the right path.
The offspring of Zahra (s.a.) became the torchbearers of guidance. Anyone who places himself/herself under their banner would attain salvation in this world and in the Hereafter. The infallible descendants of Fatima (s.a) found their place besides the Holy Koran, as the Holy Prophet (s.a.) said: "Verily, I leave among you two precious and weighty things: the Book of Allah and my Household [the Ahlul-Bayt (as)]; as long as you hold fast on these two, you shall never go astray..."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.) highlighted the status of Fatima - with regard to her faith - as follows:
"Belief in Allah has entered the heart of Fatima so deep that she makes herself free from all [worldly] involvements to worship her Lord."
Zahra (s.a.) learnt all virtues and profound knowledge through the pure headspring of divine revelation (Wah'y). Whatever she learnt, she wrote it down in her book entitled Mushaf. Imam Ali (a.s.) said: "In Fatima's Mushaf, not only all lawful and unlawful Islamic decrees are available, but also the whole knowledge about whatsoever event that has happened [in the past] and shall happen [in future] are recorded therein."
Fatima Al-Zahra (s.a.) was the perfect example in Irfan (Gnosis) and Ibadah (Worshipping Allah). She used to wake up at midnights and offer long prayers so that her holy feet swelled up. Her elder son, Imam Hasan (a.s.), relates the worship of her mother as follows: "It was a Thursday night when my mother - in her worshipping place - offered prayers all night long, and I heard her praying for all Muslims and believers in her positions of prostration and bowing down before Allah. At last I asked her: O Mother! Why did you not pray for yourself? She (s.a.) replied: "My dear son! Neighbors first; then our house..."
The merits and virtues of a supreme lady like Fatima (s.a.) are too extraordinary and outstanding to be described by ordinary people. Therefore, we briefly highlight some verses of the Holy Koran, which point to the character of Hazrat Fatima Al-Zahra (peace be upon her). These verses are revealed unto the Holy Prophet (s.a) on different occasions; each of which indicates some aspects of her sanctity:
1-Surah Al-Kawthar:
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Verily, We granted you Kawthar (the Abundant Blessing). So, turn to your Lord in Prayer and make a sacrifice. Surely, your enemy (and not you) is the one who shall be without posterity.
Kawthar means Abundant Blessing, and it may include a broad range of concepts; however, many great Shiite scholars believe that ‘Fatima Al-Zahra (s.a.)' is the personality who best fits the concept of ‘Kawthar'.
Before Holy Fatima was born, the enemies of the Holy Prophet (s.a.) repeatedly annoyed him by saying that he was the one who should be without posterity (as all his children had died due to different reasons). Here, in this verse, Almighty Allah (S.W.T) negates the claims of His prophet's enemies and says: "We granted you the Kawthar". So, we can conclude that Fatima (s.a.) is the same Kawthar (the Abundant Blessing) mentioned in the Holy Koran; as all later offspring of the Holy Prophet descended from Fatima Al-Zahra, who were (and are) the guardians of Islam. Besides the twelve Infallible Imams (a.s.) - who have an exceptional standing - if we have a look at the past history of Islam, we come across innumerable Sayyids (the offspring of the Holy Prophet and Fatima), among whom we can trace countless Islamic scholars, authors, jurisprudents, narrators, interpreters, and devoted commanders, who struggled hard to safeguard the teachings and precepts of Islam, ideologically and physically.
2- Surah Al-Insan, Verses 7-11:
"...They fulfill vows and fear a day, the evil of which shall be spreading far and wide. And they give food - out of love for Him (Allah) - to the poor and the orphan and the captive (and say): We only feed you for Allah's sake; we desire from you neither reward nor thanks: Surely we fear from our Lord a stern, distressful day. Therefore Allah will guard them from the evil of that day and cause them to meet with ease and happiness"
These verses of the Holy Koran speak of the Ahlul-Bayt (a.s.), eulogizing their selflessness and piety. These verses are good evidence for their merits and virtues. The historical occasion to which these blessed verses refer was, once Imam Hasan and Imam Hussein were at their childhood age, they fell sick and the Holy Prophet together with some of his companions visited them. He (s.a.) suggested that Ali (a.s.) should make a vow to Allah for his sons' health. Heeding the Prophet's suggestion, Imam Ali, Holy Fatima, along with their maid, Fizza, took a vow that if the boys recovered, they would fast for three consecutive days. Eventually Hasan and Hussein (a.s.) recovered, and to fulfill the vow, they also fasted along with their parents and the maid.
They all fasted for three consecutive days, but each day - at the time of breaking the fast - some needy person (as verse No. 8 indicates) appeared, and the Ahlul-Bayt gladly fed him, and themselves passed the nights without food and broke their fasting with water only.
On the fourth day, Imam Ali (a.s.) took his dear sons - Hasan and Hussein -with himself to see the Holy Prophet. When the Prophet (s.a.) observed them - trembling with hunger - he said, "It grieves me to see you in this condition". Then, he stood up and accompanied them to their house. On entering the house, he was shocked to see the sight of his daughter Fatima, sitting hollow-eyed on her prayer mat, her stomach stuck to her back. It was then that the Archangel Gabriel came down with this Surah, saying:
"0 Muhammad, Allah congratulates you for having such a (devoted) household", and then recited the verses of Surah Al-Insan.
All Shiite scholars unanimously agree that at least 18 verses of this Surah (Chapter) are revealed on the abovementioned occasion. These verses are considered as a great badge of honor for the Holy Ahlul-Bayt (a.s.).
3- The Verse of Tat'heer (Purity) (in Surah Al-Ahzab: Verse 33):
Verily, Allah desires to keep away the uncleanness (impurities) from you, O people of the House! And to purify you, a (thorough) purifying...
This is actually a genetic purification of the Ahlul-Bayt (as); that is, the Ahlul-Bayt (including Hazrat Fatima) are not only infallible (far from any kind of uncleanness, disobedience, error, sin, or personal whim) but also away from ‘the thought of sin'.
4- The Verse of Mubahala (Mutual Cursing) Surah Aale-Imran: Verse 61):
If anyone disputes with you in this matter - after what has come to you of knowledge - then say: Come let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, our souls and your souls; then let us earnestly pray, and invoke the curse of Allah upon the liars.
This verse points towards an epoch-making event, narrated by all historians and commentators; an event that revealed to the Muslims how near and dear the progeny of the Prophet are to Allah, the Exalted.
This event that clearly marked out the distinct status of the Ahlul-Bayt, is known in the annals of Islamic history as Mubahala, that is, invoking Allah's curse on the liars. Historians and exegetes of the Holy Koran have narrated the event as follows:
A deputation (the deputation comprised three prominent Christian leaders of Arabia) from the Christians of Najran region in Arabian Peninsula came to the Prophet of Islam to argue the merits of their faith. The Holy Prophet advanced to them arguments showing that Jesus the son of Mary was a human-being and a Prophet, and it was blasphemy to regard him as a son of God, because Allah the Exalted is high above all such human characteristics.
Although the Holy Prophet argued to the point fully and convincingly, the Christian leaders deliberately persisted in their false belief in the deity of Prophet Jesus. So Allah (S.WT.) revealed this verse. It was a challenge to the Christians, to pray and invoke Allah that the curse may overtake the party that insisted upon falsehood.
Early the next morning on the 24th of the Arabic lunar month of Dhul-Hijja, the Holy Prophet - in accordance with Allah's command - came out to the meeting grounds. The Holy Prophet (s.a.) carried Hussein in his arms and led Hasan (our sons) by his hand; they were followed by Holy Fatima (our women), behind whom came Ali (our souls) carrying the banner of Islam.
Seeing the Prophet accompanied by his immediate family, Christians were convinced that Muhammad (s.a.w.) was truthful; otherwise he would not have dared to bring his dearest of kin along. So they refrained from Mubahala (Mutual Cursing) and agreed to pay Jizya (tax) instead.
In this story, we perceive that Imam Hasan and Imam Hussein are the sons of the Holy Prophet, Fatima is his selected lady, and Imam Ali is actually his soul. These are the members of Prophet's household, the nearest ones to him, and those who are the symbols of truth to prove the superiority and truthfulness of the great religion of Islam.
Neither pen nor tongue is able to express the merits of Holy Fatima (s.a.). Mankind cannot imagine her elevated position. What we said above was actually a drop from the vast ocean of her character. Zahra (s.a.) can be accounted as the best role model, whom has been trained in the "school of Islam".
She was perfect in all dimensions of her personality and had achieved the zenith of human perfection. That is why she is a perfect role model for all human beings, either men or women.
Her distinguished descendant, the late Imam Khomeini (may Allah bless his soul) once said: "... Fatima Al-Zahra (s.a.) is the manifestation of all dimensions that could be imagined for a woman or for a human being. She has not been an ordinary woman, but a spiritual and celestial lady and a representation of perfect humanity, the real meaning of a perfect lady, and the ultimate example of an ideal human being. She is a heavenly creature who has appeared in this world in form of a human being. All that could be imagined with regard to mankind's excellence is crystallized in the character of our Lady Fatima (s.a.). Had she been a man, she ascended the position of the Messenger of Allah. Spirituality, celestial qualities, heavenly moralities, and divine manifestations have been developed in the personality of Fatima, a perfect human being..."