9/27/2012

Bahrain activist Zainab al-Khawaja given jail sentence

BBCNEWS

A court in Bahrain has sentenced the prominent pro-democracy activist, Zainab al-Khawaja, to two months in prison.

A judicial source said she had been found guilty of destroying government property, which her lawyer said related to her ripping up a picture of the king.
The court also reportedly adjourned until October two cases - taking part in an illegal demonstration and entering a prohibited area.
Ms Khawaja has been detained several times in the past nine months.
She has been on trial several times for taking part in illegal gatherings and insulting officials, and was sentenced to a month in prison in May.
Her father, Abdulhadi, is among eight activists and opposition figures sentenced to life for allegedly plotting to overthrow the state. Earlier this month, they lost an appeal against their convictions by a military tribunal.
'Harsh sentence'
Following Wednesday's court ruling in Manama, Ms Khawaja's lawyer, Mohammed al-Jishi, said he hoped she might be released soon because she had been remanded in custody since 2 August while awaiting trial.
Mr Jishi also said the custodial sentence was harsh because the punishment for tearing up a picture of the king was typically a fine.
Later, Bahrain's Information Affairs Authority stated that Ms Khawaja would complete her sentence within a week because of time served, but that she would remain detained for other "more serious charges".
Ms Khawaja was still facing eight more charges related to participating in protests, Mr Jishi said. Three separate trials are currently under way.
The first trial is an appeal hearing relating to a charge of insulting an officer at a military hospital. She was acquitted in May, but prosecutors appealed against the verdict.
The second is examining charges of attending an illegal gathering and "inciting hatred against the regime", and the third, obstructing traffic.
Bahrain has been wracked by unrest since demonstrations in February 2011, demanding more democracy and an end to discrimination against the majority Shia Muslim community by the Sunni royal family.
At least 60 people, including several police officers, have been killed, hundreds have been injured and thousands jailed.

The Al-Khawaja Family: Advancing Freedom in Bahrain

In Arab Spring, Obama Finds a Sharp Test

9/22/2012

Film freedom of documentation in #Bahrain

Please WATCH & RT | فيلم حرية التوثيق | film freedom of documentation in #Bahrain
www.youtube.com
 
فيلم سياسي قصير | Political short film تتحدث قصة هذا الفيلم حول إنتهاك حرية التوثيق في هذا البلد _ البحرين. Speak the story of this film is about the violati...

Obama's Game of Terrorism

TEHRAN (FNA)- The latest media reports about the US State Department's plan to remove the terrorist Mojahedin-e Khlaq Organization (MKO) from the US terror list is another evidence substantiating Washington's double-standard policy on terrorism.

Earlier this week, three senior Obama administration officials told CNN that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to notify Congress on Friday that she plans to take MKO (also known as the MEK, PMOI and NCR) off a State Department terror list.

Notification will be followed by formal removal in coming days from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, which includes more than 50 groups like al Qaeda and Hezbollah.

Clinton is under a court order to decide by October 1 whether to remove the grouplet from the terror list.

MKO is considered by many in the administration to be a bizarre cult-like organization, prompting concerns about its behavior. Officials say these concerns factored heavily in the debate.

"While they present themselves as a legitimate democratic group worthy of support, there is universal belief in the administration that they are a cult" one official said. "A de-listing is a sign of support or amnesia on our part as to what they have done and it does not mean we have suddenly changed our mind about their current behavior. We don't forget who they were and we don't think they are now who they claim to be, which is alternative to the current regime."

MKO has paid well-known former US politicians and former administration heavyweights to speak out on its behalf, including former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, former US Rep. Patrick Kennedy, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, and former National Security Advisor James Jones.

Earlier this month, the seventh and last group of the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) terrorists left Camp Ashraf, their main training center in Iraq.

The last group of the evacuees included 88 terrorists. They have been transferred to Camp Liberty which lies Northeast of the Baghdad International Airport.

Camp Liberty is a transient settlement facility and a last station for the MKO in Iraq.

Earlier this year, the Iraqi government set a new deadline for the MKO to evacuate its members from Camp Ashraf by October this year.

The MKO cannot find a shelter outside Iraq as it is blacklisted by much of the international community, including the United States.

The MKO is blacklisted by much of the international community.

Before an overture by the EU, the MKO was on the European Union's list of terrorist organizations subject to an EU-wide assets freeze. Yet, the MKO puppet leader, Maryam Rajavi, who has residency in France, regularly visited Brussels and despite the ban enjoyed full freedom in Europe.

The MKO is behind a slew of assassinations and bombings inside Iran, a number of EU parliamentarians said in a recent letter in which they slammed a British court decision to remove the MKO from the British terror list. The EU officials also added that the group has no public support within Iran because of their role in helping Saddam Hussein in the Iraqi imposed war on Iran (1980-1988).

Many of the MKO members abandoned the terrorist organization while most of those still remaining in the camp are said to be willing to quit but are under pressure and torture not to do so.

The group, founded in the 1960s, blended elements of Islamism and Stalinism and participated in the overthrow of the US-backed Shah of Iran in 1979. Ahead of the revolution, the MKO conducted attacks and assassinations against both Iranian and Western targets.

The group started assassination of the citizens and officials after the revolution in a bid to take control of the newly established Islamic Republic. It killed several of Iran's new leaders in the early years after the revolution, including the then President, Mohammad Ali Rajayee, Prime Minister, Mohammad Javad Bahonar and the Judiciary Chief, Mohammad Hossein Beheshti who were killed in bomb attacks by MKO members in 1981.

The group fled to Iraq in 1986, where it was protected by Saddam Hussein and where it helped the Iraqi dictator suppress Shiite and Kurd uprisings in the country.

The terrorist group joined Saddam's army during the Iraqi imposed war on Iran (1980-1988) and helped Saddam and killed thousands of Iranian civilians and soldiers during the US-backed Iraqi imposed war on Iran.

Libya: Islamist militia bases stormed in Benghazi


BBCNEWS

The militia suspected of killing the US ambassador to Libya nearly two weeks ago has been driven out of its base in the eastern city of Benghazi.
Police and protesters stormed the HQ of the Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia.
The HQ of the Sahaty Brigade, said to have official backing, was also stormed. At least nine people were killed there, another died elsewhere.
The attack on the US consulate was triggered by an amateur video made in the US which mocks Islam.
Protests against the film have been held across the Muslim world. At least 19 people died in Pakistan on Friday alone, in clashes with police trying to stop protesters attacking US diplomatic buildings.
US citizens have been urged not to travel to Pakistan and the US embassy has paid for adverts on Pakistani TV showing President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemning the film.
Government-backed group
Witnesses say supporters of Ansar al-Sharia gathered outside its Benghazi headquarters, in front of the crowd, waving black and white banners.
They fired into the air to try to disperse the protesters, but fled with their weapons after the base was surrounded by waves of people shouting "No to militias".
Buildings and a car were set alight and fighters evicted.
In a statement later, a spokesman for the group said militiamen had evacuated the premises after their commander had ordered to "hand them over to the people of Benghazi" to preserve security.
However, in a standoff outside the headquarters of the Sahaty Brigade in the city, three people were killed and at least 20 injured according to witnesses and officials.
The two sides are said to have exchanged rocket and light arms fire for two hours before the brigade decided to move out.
Protesters then set fire to one of the main buildings and pillaged a weapons depot, a journalist for AFP news agency at the scene reported.
Another person was killed and another 20 injured in other incidents, city hospitals said.
On Saturday, sources said the bodies of six people had been found. They had been shot "execution-style".
The BBC's Rana Jawad in the capital Tripoli says the Sahaty Brigade is believed to be operating under the authority of the ministry of defence.
Senior Libyan officials say that while they welcomed the protests, people should differentiate between the rogue militias and honest rebel brigades that helped to secure the town in last year's uprising against Col Muammar Gaddafi.
Earlier, some 30,000 protesters marched through Benghazi calling for an end to the armed groups and a return to the rule of law.
There has been a wave of hostility towards the militias since US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others Americans died in last week's attack on the Benghazi consulate.
"I don't want to see armed men wearing Afghani-style clothes stopping me in the street to give me orders, I only want to see people in uniform," said university student Omar Mohammed, who took part in the takeover of the Ansar al-Sharia compound.
Many Libyans have expressed outrage at the attack on the US consulate. Ansar al-Sharia denies being behind it.
Libya's interim government has since come under renewed and intense pressure to rein in well-armed extremist militia groups and force them to disband.
Friday's march was the largest seen in Benghazi - considered the heartland of Libya's uprising - since Col Gaddafi was deposed.
Armed militia groups which helped to defeat Gaddafi remain powerful in many parts of the country.
They are better armed and more numerous than Libya's official army, and there have been reports of militias intimidating and carrying out killings against rivals.

9/17/2012

WikiLeaks: All emails to and from the Planning Commission of Syria

WikiLeaks @wikileaks

Iran warns of IAEA 'terrorist infiltration'

BBCNEWS

Iran's nuclear chief has warned that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) may have been infiltrated by "terrorists and saboteurs".

Fereydun Abbasi-Davani said explosions had cut power lines to a uranium enrichment facility last month shortly before a visit by IAEA inspectors.
He also accused the UN's nuclear watchdog of mismanagement and said it was influenced by "certain states".
On Thursday, the IAEA rebuked Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment.
The 35-member governing board expressed "serious concern" that Iran continued to defy UN Security Council resolutions demanding a halt and had failed to resolve questions about possible weapons development.
Israel's prime minister warned on Sunday that Iran was only six or seven months from having "90%" of what it needed to make a nuclear bomb.
Benjamin Netanyahu told US media that the only way to stop this was for Washington to draw a "red line" on Iran's nuclear activity and declare that crossing it would lead to military intervention.
Iran has insisted that its nuclear programme is solely for peaceful purposes, and warned that it will retaliate if it comes under attack.
'Covert decisions'
In a speech to the IAEA's general conference in Vienna on Monday, the head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran stressed that it had "always opposed and will always denounce the manufacture and use of weapons of mass destruction".
Then in an unusually outspoken attack on the IAEA, Mr Abbasi-Davani said "terrorists and saboteurs might have intruded the agency and might be making decisions covertly"
He cited an incident on 17 August, when power lines from the city of Qom to the underground uranium enrichment facility at Fordo were cut.
The following day, he said, the IAEA sought an unannounced inspection.
"Does this visit have any connection to that detonation? Who other than the IAEA inspectors can have access to the complex in such a short time?"
"It should be recalled that power cut-off is one of the ways to break down centrifuge machines," he added, referring to the equipment used to increase the proportion of fissile uranium-235 atoms within uranium.
But Mr Abbasi-Davani said sabotage attempts against Iran's nuclear programme had failed and would continue to fail.
For his part, the head of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano said the agency was committed to intensifying dialogue with Iran, despite the lack of progress so far. The last meeting on 24 August ended without agreement.
This comes a day before the EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, is due to meet Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Said Jalili, in Istanbul.
Baroness Ashton is the lead negotiator for the so-called P5+1 - the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany.

‘Innocence of Muslims’ filmmaker was a federal informant

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (2nd R) is escorted out of his home by Los Angeles County Sheriff's officers in Cerritos, California.(Reuters / Bret Hartman)

RT: Much remains unanswered about the US-made film that sparked riots across the Arab World, but more is unraveling by the day regarding the movie’s producer. Now it’s reported that the man behind 'Innocence of Muslims' was once a federal informant.
In the wake of a serious of violent outbursts that have targeted American facilities overseas and left several dead including one US ambassador, authorities and media outlets in the United States continue to comb through information about the film that’s considered the catalyst in the attacks, an anti-Islam flick branded overseas under the name ‘Innocence of Muslims.’ Less than a week after four Americans were killed at a US consulate in Yemen, it’s now being revealed that the film’s producer, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, worked for the feds.
A court transcript obtained by the Smoking Gun shows that, as recently as 2010, Mr. Nakoula was identified as a federal informant, a title that his attorneys hoped would help in his case when he went before sentencing that year over an earlier conviction for check fraud.
According to the transcripts, attorneys for Mr. Nakoula pleaded for leniency when their client was sentenced in June 2010, arguing that “cooperation” with prosecutors in a separate case should be taken into consideration. Authorities had hoped that Nakoula would provide them with an direct link to Eiad Salameh, the mastermind of a check kilting scheme described in court papers as “a notorious fraudster who has been tracked for more than a decade by state and federal investigators.”
On his own part, Nakoula pleaded that he had agreed to assist the government in order to reverse his wrongdoing.
“I would like to start that I’m sorry for what happened,” Nakoula told a judge, the transcript reveals. “Now I know that it was wrong. Therefore, I decided to cooperate with the government to retrieve some of these mistakes or damage happened. I want to cooperate with the government so that they can catch with this other criminals who is their involvement.”
That wasn’t Nakoula’s first run-in with the law, and might not be his last either. Authorities are currently investigating his role with ‘Innocence of Muslims,’ which has since been tied to an array of mob assaults in the Arab World. Before his conviction for check fraud, though, he was charged with “intent to manufacture phencyclidine,” or PCP, back in 1997 after he was caught with dozens of boxes of pharmaceuticals and $45,000 in cash.

Gaza Vittorio Arrigoni murder: Four Palestinians jailed

BBCNEWS
A Hamas-run military court in Gaza has convicted four Palestinians for their involvement in the abduction and murder of the Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni in April 2011.

Two of the men were given life terms, another was sentenced to 10 years and the fourth to one year.
Arrigoni, 36, a pro-Palestinian activist, was murdered in Gaza by ultra-conservative radical Islamists.
He was found dead hours after he was seized by Salafist militants.
The group, which was in conflict with Hamas, was demanding the release of its leader, who had been arrested.
The Salafists in Gaza are an Islamist movement that considers Hamas as too moderate, our correspondent says.
Mahmud al-Salfiti and Tamer al-Husasna were given life sentences for Arrigoni's kidnapping and murder.
Khadr Faruk Jerim received 10 years for kidnapping and Amer Abu Ghola one year for providing the apartment where Arrigoni was found.
Arrigoni was a member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and had been in Gaza for several years.
He was the first foreigner kidnapped in Gaza since BBC journalist Alan Johnston was abducted in 2007.

The Enduring Horror of South Africa

 

 
By Richard PithouseSACSIS
 
In her recently republished autobiography Emma Mashinini, the grand old lady of the trade union movement, ascribes the deep roots of her steadfast political commitment to a desire to assert that: “I am human. I exist. I am a complete person.”
This may strike some people as naïve in a country where many of the discourses contending for influence in the elite public sphere are frequently weighed down with the dead hand of stolid jargon, mediated through everything from Stalinism, to the language of the World Bank or human rights. But the constant mobilisation of all this jargon – ‘deepening and advancing the national democratic revolution’,  ‘achieving labour market flexibility’, ‘building social cohesion’, ‘extending participatory developmental instruments’, ‘gender mainstreaming’ -  is not just about establishing and sustaining a distance between contending experts and the people with a view to legitimating the power of experts over the people. And it’s not just about the dark art of saying nothing of consequence while trying to sound informed and intelligent. In some cases, like the recent claim by the SACP and COSATU in KwaZulu-Natal that ‘renewed imperialist aggression’ aims, with the support of various local allies, to have Zuma removed from the Presidency in order to ‘recolonise this country’, we are dealing with language that is paranoid, fantastical, grossly authoritarian and plainly Orwellian.
But this is an extreme case and jargon more ordinarily functions to absolve political discourse from the obligation to develop a full recognition of the human presence in a situation by erasing that presence in favour of abstractions. The left has often been just as tempted to erase the human presence from attempts to make sense of particular situations as the right. This is one reason why Karl Marx railed against dogmatic abstractions and insisted both that ‘communism is the real movement that abolishes the present state of things’ and that communism is ‘only an expression of the humanistic principle’.
There’s no question that Marx would have acknowledged the source of Emma Mashinini’s politics as both profound and eternal and recoiled in rage and horror from the South African Communist Party which has very little to show for its craven alliance with a socially conservative and authoritarian populist leader aside from cabinet positions for its leaders paid for with escalating social devastation, a steady corrosion of democratic institutions and norms, an ongoing debasement of political discourse and a trail of blood that snaked its way round the country for years before raising its monstrous head for all the world to see in Marikana.
When the distance between political jargon and lived reality starts to add further strain to the already fraying symbolic ties that bind the led to their leaders the state seeks to contain the situation with a mixture of repression, co-option and distraction that sometimes takes the form of scapegoating. Zuma, much like many Republicans in the United States, likes to present himself as a folksy man of the people with ‘ordinary’ ideas about the role of gay people, women and migrants in society. But stoking popular prejudices and pandering to the idea that we have lost our way because we have deviated from what are imagined to be ancient cultural norms that just so happen to offer some among the oppressed the prospect of exerting some power over others is a scurrilous form of politics that, while it recognises people’s wounds, aims to exploit rather than to heal or transcend.
The successful instigation of a media frenzy around Brett Murray’s painting, a last ditch attempt to conflate Zuma with the nation, and its wounds, bought him a little time. But outside of the networks of patronage, circles animated by ethnic sentiment, the social conservatives who relish the idea of stepping back from democratic commitments and the Orwellian histrionics of the SACP and the union leaders trailing in its wake, Zuma’s credibility is finished. Nonetheless it’s the party and not the country as a whole that elects the president and, at this point, there’s no clarity as to the likely outcome in Mangaung.
What we do know is that the coalition that is ranging itself against Zuma is deeply compromised from the outset. Its links to Malema, a corrupt and authoritarian demagogue, inspire no confidence. And recent media reports claim that it has to reply on Bheki Cele in KwaZulu-Natal. If this is correct it indicates that this is either an entirely unprincipled coalition or that the rot in the party is so pervasive that there simply are no prospects for a principled coalition to attain critical mass.
The only part of the tripartite alliance in which it is rational to sustain any hope for a progressive or even merely democratic politics are the parts of COSATU that have carved out a critical and independent position and which continue to take reasoned and principled positions in the public sphere. The progressive currents in the trade union federation did make a serious error of judgement in the nature of the initial support that they offered to Zuma and have since been compromised by their silence when activists and organisations outside of the ANC have been subject to repression. But in the context of the progressive hopes that remain invested in the tripartite alliance, they are the only credible game in town.
The progressive currents in COSATU have come to be associated with the personality and leadership of Zwelinzima Vavi and will certainly be strengthened if Vavi can, despite Blade Nzimande’s machinations, come out of the federation’s congress unscathed. But as Vavi himself is well aware trade unions have often drifted far from their members, become more concerned with palace politics than shop floor issues or a genuine engagement with social issues and turned into escalators lifting individuals out of the working class rather than expressions of the organised collective power of workers. Even if Vavi survives the coming battle there is no guarantee that this will have a significant impact on the trajectory of the ANC.
Towards the end of her autobiography, which was first published in 1989, Emma Mashinini writes that: “The horror of South Africa is that the life of a black person is very cheap.” No one can credibly deny that this horror endures. It is most shockingly evident in state murder and the practices, like torture, that surround it. But it’s also evident in the outright contempt with which the state treats poor people – a contempt that is materialised for all to see in the state of our schools, public hospitals and public housing. And it’s evident too in violence from below be it specifically xenophobic, homophobic or sexist or part of the endemic casual violence that poisons the flow of everyday life.
The starting point of real resistance to this horror cannot be dogmatic abstractions about economics, human rights or socialism. It has to be a resolute affirmation that everyone is and must immediately be treated as a human being, as a complete person. It also has to take the form of solidarity with actually existing people and their actually existing strivings and struggles. Working out how to realise the dignity of every person in practice certainly requires serious engagement on terrains like the economic. But there is a real difference between starting with a real and immediate commitment to recognising the full and equal dignity of each person and simply assuming that this will follow, in time, from the right policies, ideas or leadership.
More than twenty years ago Emma Mashini observed that: “Where ever I am it seems there must always be trouble.” Affirming the equal humanity of all people is a dangerous business. And while South Africa has changed a lot since 1989 it remains that case that if you’re not in trouble you’re doing something wrong.

Ten African films to watch out for, N°2

By Sean Jacobs
http://africasacountry.com/2012/09/13/10-african-films-to-watch-out-for-n2/

The promo for ‘Oblivion’, a yet to be finished Ethiopian feature about “telafa”, a practice whereby young women are abducted for marriage. Here’s the fundraising page.
Shortly after Ben Ali fled Tunisia, the first sit-in began. ‘Fallega 2011′ is a documentary by Rafik Omrani.

Anti-Islam film: Hezbollah calls for Lebanon protests

BBCNEWS

The influential leader of the Lebanon-based Shia Muslim militant group, Hezbollah, has called for fresh protests over an anti-Islam film.



9/14/2012

U.S. embassy in Tunis

The Associated Press @AP
BREAKING: Large cloud of black smoke seen coming from around U.S. embassy in Tunis.

US official: Marine team sent to Yemen


WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. official says an elite Marine rapid response team has arrived in Yemen in the wake of violence and protests in the capital of Sanaa.
The deployment comes as Yemeni security forces were firing live rounds and tear gas into the crowd of about 2,000 protesters trying to march to the U.S. embassy. On Thursday hundreds of protesters stormed the embassy compound and burned the American flag.
The Marine unit, known as a Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team, was sent in response to Thursday's violence and as a precautionary measure, as waves of attacks roiled the Muslim world over an anti-Islam video.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the deployment was not made public.
A similar team was dispatched to Libya Wednesday in response to violence there.

pro-government protesters in Bahrain waving al Qaeda flag in front of the U.S. Embassy

Media of Truth | Bahrain
#BREAKING | Pro-government protesters in #Bahrain waving al Qaeda flag in front of the U.S. Embassy NOW
موالين النظام يرفعون علم القاعدة امام السفارة الأمريكية الآن
 
 
 

Protests Continue Over Anti-Islam Film

VOA's Mike O'Sullivan in Los Angeles contributed to this report

Demonstrations continued for a fourth day across the Muslim world over an American-made anti-Islamic video. U.S. and other foreign missions have stepped up security following violent attacks that began Tuesday.

Protesters in several cities across the Middle East, south and east Asia and Africa spread out after midday prayers Friday, denouncing the video and those they feel have not done enough to stop it.

Demonstrations continued near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, with protesters throwing rocks at riot police, who responded with tear gas.

The violence also appeared to be spreading to Sudan, where demonstrators are reported to have breached the German embassy. Protests were also reported in Malaysia and Indonesia and security was tight in Kabul, Afghanistan.

In Benghazi, Libya, where the U.S. ambassador and three other American personnel were killed in an attack Tuesday, security was stepped up around the city and the airport temporarily closed.

U.S. warships are headed to the Libyan coast, while additional U.S. marine guards were deployed to protect the American embassy in Yemen, breached by protesters Thursday.

In many Cairo mosques Friday, the video, a crudely-made attempt to mock the Prophet Muhammad, was the topic of the day.  One imam reminded worshippers that Egyptians, under their new, Islamist government, can now openly defend the prophet from such insults.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who has condemned the video, spoke out again Friday on the need to keep protests in check.

Egyptian security forces were building a barrier Friday to block the route to the embassy. Egyptian police used tear gas earlier to break up the protests.

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke Thursday about the relationship between the U.S. and Egypt.

"I don't think that we would consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy," said Obama.  "They are a new government that's trying to find its way. They were democratically elected. I think we have to see how they respond to this incident."

Libyan officials said Thursday that they have arrested four people in connection with this week's assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three of his staff.  The officials did not provide details.

American intelligence agencies are examining the alleged involvement of pro-al-Qaida militants. But they say they do not have solid evidence.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the amateur U.S.-made movie that mocks the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. She called it "disgusting" and "reprehensible."


Mystery Surrounds Controversial Film
A trailer for the anti-Islamic video was posted on YouTube in July. An Arabic-language translation began circulating in the Middle East in recent days. Clips from the movie depict the Prophet Muhammad as a villainous, homosexual, child-molesting buffoon, among other overtly insulting claims.

The film has been widely condemned across the globe and in the United States.

Called The Innocence of Muslims, the film was said to have been produced by a man named Sam Bacile, who told news media he is Israeli-American.  A consultant on the film says that name is a pseudonym, and there are suggestions that the man behind the film is an Egyptian Coptic Christian who lives in California.  There is no record of the film or its producer in Hollywood reference sources.

Several news organizations have linked the inflammatory film to an Egyptian American, 55-year-old Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who lives in California and once was convicted of bank fraud.  Nakoula says he handled logistics for the production.

Another California man who says he served as a consultant, Steve Klein, has given conflicting accounts of the film's origin and funding.  Klein is the founder of hate groups that target Islam and other faiths.

Protests grow over US Prophet Mohammed film

BBCNEWS

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19595854

US missions are on high alert across the Muslim world as anger grows over a film made in the US that mocks Islam.
On Tuesday, protesters stormed the US consulate in Benghazi in Libya, killing the ambassador and three others. Since then unrest has spread across the Middle East and North Africa
In the Egyptian capital, Cairo, police fired tear gas at about 500 protesters near the US embassy. Security forces and demonstrators also clashed in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.
Jon Leyne reports from Cairo.

9/12/2012

US ambassador 'killed in Libya'

BBCNEWS

The US ambassador to Libya has died after being attacked by militiamen storming the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi, reports say.

The ambassador was said to be among four US officials killed in a protest over a US-produced film that is said to insult the Prophet Muhammad.
The US state department has only confirmed the death of one official - but it has not named him.
Protesters over the film have also attacked the US embassy in Cairo.

9/10/2012

Dutch author: ‘If only Africans would complain a bit more’

By Maria HengeveldAfrica is a country


In a recent interview, Pepijn Vloemans, a regular commentator in Dutch mainstream press and the author of the book ‘Wat hebben we weer genoten’ (What a joy we had), described how his drive for adventure and experimental urge to test himself in a low-comfort environment led him to Africa.
We’ve lifted and translated some highlights from the interview:
Vloemans: In the Netherlands I lead my comfortable life, while so many things are going on in the world, of which I have no knowledge at all. I thought to myself: “What am I still doing here? I need to leave!” My goal was to test myself in a less comfortable environment. Without thinking I booked a trip to one of the unsafest places in the world. Only roughly did I outline my route. I wanted to travel up along the Nile, through Uganda, to continue to South Sudan, which had just become independent. I had not read a Lonely Planet in advance. I decided to simply go.
Interviewer: You are not particularly advertising Africa in your book.
Vloemans: I intentionally didn’t romanticize the story and left out the beautiful sunsets. Reading about how merry the life of Africans is annoys me, which is why I wanted to show its shadow side. The people over there don’t complain about their situation and as a consequence there is no progress. My book is a praise to the chagrin. [The Dutch' never-ending] complaints about delayed trains might be bad, but it does lead to improvement. In Africa buses only leave when they are full. Apparently no one minds to be late.
Next to the absence of outrage, the short term thinking of many Africans surprised me. I felt I was constantly living in some student digs. For every problem, they seek a ‘houtje touwtje’ [ad hoc] solution. Is the bus door broken? Well, let’s go without it then. It scared me how many people only look one day ahead. I saw the value in the long-term solutions as we have them in Holland, such as old age pensions and hospitals… 
It almost feels naughty to write something negative about Africa, but the progress that needs to take place is so fundamental that I wondered what development cooperation could contribute. Politically, I became more right wing.
The interview then drifts off into how Vloemans discovers he actually needs his comfort and envies anthropologists, whose energy and interests leads them to indulge into different cultures, before getting back to familiar subjects:
Interviewer: Despite diarrhea, visa stress, unbearable heat and pests, did you also have good times?
Vloemans: Definitely, at certain moments. The city of Gondar was a paradise to me after my journey through the dessert. And the city of Addis Abeba, high up in the Ethiopian mountains surprised me with its fresh air, fresh espressos and Eucalyptus scents. But after those rough weeks I especially enjoyed coming back home to our wealthy country, where everything is well managed.
The book comes with a blurb by much-praised author and much-invited post-colony expert Adriaan van Dis: “Pepijn Vloemans is a true Africa traveller: a man who explores the abysses and the heart of darkness.”
To ensure a minimum of lost-in-translation-damage, we have sent Pepijn an email. He has not yet responded.

By Maria HengeveldAfrica is a country

Further details regarding the ill-treatment of Nabeel Rajab and Zainab Al-Khawaja in prison of Bahrain



(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Gulf Center for Human Rights and Bahrain Center for Human Rights express their grave concern for the information received regarding ill-treatment of detained human rights defenders Nabeel Rajab and Zainab AlKhawaja in prison of Bahrain, as well as the continued exploitation of the judicial system to punish human rights defenders and hinder their peaceful and legitimate human rights work, as detained activists Zainab AlKhawaja is facing up to 13 cases, in addition to a 3 months imprisonment sentence issued against here on made-up charges.

Ill-treatment of imprisoned leading human rights defender Nabeel Rajab

Further to the last update published by the GCHR and BCHR about ill-treatment of the imprisoned Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab in Bahrain prison by putting him in solitary confinement (read it here), GCHR and BCHR have received additional details in that regard.
Sumaya Rajab, wife of human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, stated that she met Nabeel (4 September 2012) in Jaw Prison for the first time in three weeks.
Sumaya confirmed that Nabeel is subjected to degrading conditions and ill-treatment through repeated personal inspections, whereby they take off all his clothes during the inspection and leave him with only a small piece of fabric to cover his private areas. He said he was subjected to deliberately humiliating inspections.
With regards to being put in solitary confinement in August, Nabeel told Sumaya that he was taken to solitary on the day he was sentenced to three-years imprisonment, which seems to indicate a desire for revenge and punishment, and added that the atmosphere of the cell suggested to him that he would be exposed to “repeated meals of severe torture.”
She continued by saying that in his solitary cell, Nabeel was stripped of all his clothes, forced to wear a small piece of fabric ("a wrapper") only, then forced to stand and sit 40 times as part of the physical torture he suffered despite the fact that he suffers from a herniated disc in his back, and has requested a special medical belt to help cope with the recurrence of pain. He was also hit on the back by security forces several times previously.
Sumaya said that Nabeel does not know how many days he spent in that cell, because he could not tell day from night. In addition to the cell being generally dirty, Nabeel reported that there was also a dead cat in the cell.
Sumaya confirmed that Nabeel doesn't eat the food he's given by the prison guards because he does not trust them, so he has lived for nearly two months on what is left of his corn flakes cereal and some canned food, as he's allowed to buy from the prison cafeteria only once a week. Also, he's allowed to only take 6 liters of water per week, although he suffers from kidney and gallbladder stones.
Sumaya said that for the first time in two months Nabeel ate cooked food today, as his family was able to give him a sandwich. He is prohibited from having sugar as well.
She continued saying that the prison administration refused to give Nabeel an electric shaver which she brought after Nabeel was refused shaving blades she brought the last time. As a result, he cannot shave and looks inappropriate, which she considers is one of the degrading actions committed against him.
She said that the prison administration forces Nabeel to wear very small flip-flops, which he uses everywhere, even in court. And he's only allowed to have two pieces of clothing and two pairs of underwear.
Sumaya confirmed that in spite of all this suffering, Nabeel's psychological state is very strong and that he always raises the victory sign.
But in other upsetting news, Sumaya said police denied them their right to meet Nabeel for the full duration of a prison visit, which is one hour, as they were permitted to stay only 25 minutes with him. They strongly objected and refused this abusive treatment, which led officers in charge to scream at them, insisting they leave.
According to Sumaya, the security officials justified this act by saying that it was late and that the police wanted to go home to their children, which Sumaya considered a clear provocation intended to harass and pressure them. She said that Nabeel didn't see his own children in three weeks, not even for a day, and they are wasting their one-hour visit causing a controversy.
Sumaya said that Nabeel is still isolated from the rest of the political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, languishing in a common cell with 3 or 4 criminal prisoners, and he's not allowed to see anyone who enters the jail.
Sumaya confirmed that she sent a letter in the hands of her son Adam to the President of Jaw Prison Mohammed al-Husseini, demanding the transfer of Nabeel to the same area as other political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, as he's the only one isolated from them deliberately. But al-Husseini’s response was to derisively claim that this is the best treatment he can provide to Nabeel, and directed Sumaya to make any complaint to the Department of Legal Affairs.
Sumaya said that lawyers also met with the President of Jaw Prison for the same reason but he was stubborn and said, "Forget it." Sumaya confirmed that she herself had met Husseini previously for the same reason, where he claimed that this is not considered a prison isolation legally, because Nabeel is sentenced to 3 months only and can't be placed with the rest of sentenced prisoners. However, Nabeel is now sentenced to 3 years in prison, but he's still isolated from other prisoners of conscience to this day, without any explanation.
In their treatment of Nabeel Rajab, the authorities in Bahrain are actively violating several articles and conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and The Convention against torture. Article 5 of the UDHR reads: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.
GCHR and BCHR consider the treatment of Nabeel Rajab degrading and therefore in clear violation to several international conventions and treaties.
By not taking enough measures to prevent torture in their territory of its jurisdiction, Bahrain has violated the entire Convention against torture, which they signed and ratified in 1998. The state of Bahrain is furthermore continuously ignoring the UN “Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners”, which since its creation in 1955, sets out the minimum standards regarding for example clothing, hygiene, food, inspections and medical services for prisoners, which creates very severe consequences for prisoners like Nabeel Rajab and Zainab Alkhawaja.

Chain of judicial harrasments against detained human rights defender Zainab AlKhawaja and ill-treatment at prison

Activist and human rights defender Zainab AlKhawaja is detained since 2 Aug 2012 after she was arrested following protesting alone in Al Qadam roundabout. She has been injured earlier in her leg when security forces shot her with tear gas canisters at a close range, resulting in the injury, refer to
bahrainrights.org/en/node/5354
Zainab Alkhawaja currently has thirteen cases against her, 7 of them are active at the court, including the case of ripping a picture of the king.
On Sep 2012 alone, the court will be holding sessions in 3 cases against activist Zainab AlKhawaja on which she is accused with:
1- Damaging King’s photo on May 2012, the coming hearing session will be on 10 Sep 2012, and she is currently detained for this case.
2- Participating in a demonstration that was not notified about and entering a restricted zone which is the “pearl roundabout area” on Feb 2012, the coming hearing session will be on 25 Sep 2012 (Background about this case: bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/5048).
3- Assembling on AbuSaiba roundabout Dec 2011, and inciting hatred against the regime, the coming hearing session will be on 26 Sep 2012. (Background about this case: bahrainrights.hopto.org/en/node/4906
Zainab has been already sentenced in several cases, to hundreds dinars fines and to imprisonment, she has been detained for several weeks on several occasions, and in one case she has been sentenced to 3 months imprisonment on 22 May 2012 for charges of assembling and disrupting traffic in Aali in November 2011, when she stood to stop the riot police from attacking the mourners of a man killed by the regime of Bahrain (video: youtube.com/watch?v=nPl-x7DGrao ) on 10 Oct 2012 the court of appeal will be hearing pleading in this case as the sentence has not yet been carried. And on 16 Oct 2012 the court of appeal will hold session on the case of insulting an official at the military hospital, while the court has previously acquitted Zainab but the public prosecution has appealed against the acquittal. On 1 Nov 2012 the court will hold a session on the case of “Disrupting traffic near the financial harbour in April 2011”.
GCHR and BCHR have also received information that the public prosecution is still investigating into more cases against Zainab AlKhawaja where she is accused with “assembling and disrupting traffic”.
GCHR and BCHR believe that the continued detention and prosecuting of Zainab Al-Khawaja is directly linked to both her work in the defense of human rights and democracy in Bahrain and her exercise of freedom to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The organizations see this as part of an ongoing trend of harassment of human rights defenders in Bahrain which targeted the leading Human rights defender Nabeel Rajab with similar judicial harassments that concluded with giving him a 3 years sentence (refer to bahrainrights.org/en/node/5387).
GCHR and BCHR are very concerned for the physical and psychological welfare of human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja, specially that she was not allowed to see her specialized doctor to monitor the condition of her injured leg since she was detained on 2 Aug 2012. By denying Zainab proper medical attention for her injury, Bahrain is violating article 25 of the UDHR regarding the right to health as well as the previously mentioned “Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners”
Similar to many other children in Bahrain who’s parent or parents are imprisoned, Zainab’s daughter Jude had to celebrate her third birthday without her mother today, last year her father was imprisoned during this special day. Her father wrote on twitter “I haven’t wept when I was arrested, tortured, physically and sexually humiliated, when I first saw my family after more than two months, when I was sentenced for four years imprisonment or when after ten months I was released, now I weep because I see Jude without her mother on her birthday”. To further harass Zainab and her family, her request to visit her father in prison was denied and she was not allowed to give her daughter a paper duck she had made for her birthday. In addition, Zainab’s request to visit her imprisoned father the human rights defender Abdulhadi AlKhawaja was rejected.

The BCHR and GCHR call on the Government of Bahrain to:
1. Immediately release detained human rights defender Nabeel Rajab and Zainab Al-Khawaja and drop all charges against them, as it is believed that these measures have been taken against them solely due to thier legitimate and peaceful work in the defense of human rights, and the exercise of freedom to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression in accordance to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
2. Immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience and activists including leading human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja.
3.Immediatly put an end to the practice of torture and the ill-treatment of prisoners in Bahrain and bring those responsible to justice.
4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

We reiterate our call on the international community to put real pressure on the government of Bahrain to stop the acts of ill-treatment practiced on leading human rights defenders and to release them immediately as we believe they have been targeted solely for their legitimate human rights activities.

Bahrain's citizens pay the price for Britain's dealings with the kingdom | Louisa Loveluck

Saudi Arabia's al-Qaeda challenge


Saudi Arabia's continuing campaign against al-Qaeda-inspired terrorism has enjoyed considerable success. The atmosphere in the country is noticeably more relaxed than it was a few years ago when the kingdom was buffeted by several major suicide bombings.

But the arrest earlier this month of eight men accused of plotting terror attacks in Riyadh and Jeddah is proof that the campaign is not over. As one Saudi newspaper editorial put it: "Renewed vigilance is required."
Of the eight men arrested in the latest sweep, two were Saudis and the other six were Yemenis. There seems little doubt that the terror plot was hatched in Yemen.
It is well known that al-Qaeda supporters are exploiting the lawlessness in that country to set up bases. But even if order were to be restored to Yemen, Saudi security officials would still need to be vigilant: the war in Syria is giving impetus to al-Qaeda groups there, and energizing jihadists in Iraq.
Tightening border controls is only part of the solution. Saudi officials know they also have to take steps at home to discourage their own young men from being lured into groups advocating the use of violence in the name of Islam.
For since the monstrous 9/11 World Trade Centre attacks in 2001 and up to the failed plot in the kingdom earlier this month, a surprising number of Saudi nationals have been associated with terror incidents.
Trouble on the borders
The Saudi authorities' attempts to eliminate al-Qaeda, and thereby remove its potential attraction to the kingdom's disaffected young men, have been greatly hindered by developments beyond the country's borders.
The absence of a strong central government in Yemen has given al-Qaeda, despite frequent US drone attacks, the freedom it has been looking for.
Furthermore, jihadist leaders are unequivocal about their aims.
Earlier this year, an Islamist website called on Muslims to "do everything possible to strengthen the jihadist front in Yemen as it serves as a source of back-up and reinforcement for operations in the Land of the Two Mosques [Saudi Arabia]."
Some Muslims are heeding the call. Just last week, the Yemeni authorities arrested two Egyptians who had entered the country illegally, en route to Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi government's concern is that the war in Syria and rising sectarian tension in Iraq will provide yet more recruiting and training opportunities for al-Qaeda, creating more threats to the kingdom.
'New and decent lives'
The challenge, as ever, will be to convince young Saudis of the folly and danger of attaching themselves to jihadists.
Many Saudis remain mystified by the apparent appeal of such groups.
Writing in the daily al-Watan, columnist Yahya al-Amir wondered "why Saudi youth follow calls to jihad, fighting and seeking martyrdom more than anyone else".
He concluded that changes were needed to religious education in the kingdom, making a clear distinction between Wahhabi Salafi doctrine on the one side, and that of jihadist Salafis advocating violence on the other.
For example, he said, the concept of jihad was "a vital idea of value in Islam", but had been presented out of context in an absolutist way by jihadists.
Saudi authorities have made some progress in re-education.
As another columnist pointed out, "an enlightened attitude to the rehabilitation of those who have been duped into supporting the bigoted ideas of al-Qaeda has led to a small but significant number of captured terrorists rejecting their evil past and seeking to live new and decent lives in society."
Education challenge
The problem is that new potential al-Qaeda recruits are emerging each day in the form of disillusioned young Saudis with no jobs and meagre prospects of employment.
One reason for this is that many job-seekers lack practical skills.
Saudi Arabia's Deputy Minister of Labour Mofarrej al-Haqbani admitted in a speech last May that the education system was out of step with the demands of the market place.
"We have to deliver improved standards of training and education. I have to say here that in Saudi Arabia the majority of students after high school turn to study literary and theoretical disciplines", Mr Haqbani said, rather than technical and applied ones. "
"It is one of our major challenges," he added.
Schemes providing financial incentives for job-seekers have so far enjoyed only limited success. The same is true of the "Nitaqat" programme that requires all businesses to employ a 30% quota of Saudi nationals.
Adding to the problem is the prevailing expectation amongst Saudi youth that they should accept nothing less than a comfortable job in the civil service.
So Saudi Arabia's campaign against al-Qaeda is likely to continue for some considerable time. Only a foolhardy gambler would bet on when stability will return to Yemen, Syria and Iraq - and when every young Saudi has a job.

New Saudi body to attract broadcast media

GULFNEWS
 
New entity will take on role of regulator and facilitator
  • By Jumana Al Tamimi, Associate Editor

Dubai: The Saudi decision to restructure the state media and establish a new government body to regulate audiovisual broadcasters is expected to pave the way for more media to apply to transmit from inside Saudi Arabia, Saudi media officials said.
The decision to establish a media authority, which was announced a few days earlier, could also encourage Saudi-owned media houses based abroad to return home and launch operations from inside the kingdom, they added.
“Among the [approved] authority’s goals will be to offer an appropriate atmosphere to everyone interested in transmitting from inside Saudi Arabia within certain conditions,” said Abdul Rahman Al Hazza, spokesperson of the Information and Culture ministry.
While stressing the authority is “not a legal one”, Al Haza told Gulf News it would serve as “an authority to regulate and supervise the audio and visual media outlets operating from inside the Saudi Arabia, and issue the licences to radio and television stations to operate from the kingdom and offer them the necessary facilities”.
The Saudi government announced last Monday that it has approved an overhaul of the media industry. The new authority is envisaged to regulate, develop and supervise media content according to the state’s media policy.
“The authority will be an independent body in terms of finance and administration,” the cabinet said in a statement carried by the Saudi News Agency, adding that it “would have an independent annual budget. However, it would come under the Ministry of Culture and Information,” it added.
“The authority will be the responsible agency for the transmission of audio and visual media and its content,” Culture and Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja said explaining the cabinet decision.
“This is a big joy to all media men,” Riyad Najem, undersecretary of media affairs at the Culture and Media Affairs Ministry, said of the government decision to establish the General Authority for Audio and Visual Media.
“Surely, the impact of the establishment of this authority will be huge. There will be now a designated body to organise the audio and visual [media] transition of the private sector and allow the Saudi capital that left the kingdom to return and work from the country,” he said in a statement published in the Saudi Arabic-language newspaper Al Madinah a day after the government announcement.
Many prominent Arab satellite channels and newspapers are Saudi-owned and they are working from outside the kingdom, including London and Dubai, where a more facilities and easier procedures are offered.
Amid complaints about the lack of a proper environment for Saudi and non-Saudi television stations in Saudi Arabia, the new decisions will facilitate the arrival of needed expertise in the kingdom, Saudi officials said.
Al Hazza said that, previously, “there were no licences issued. Even if someone wanted to establish a station on horses, or poetry or sports, no licences were issued. But now with the authority, licences will be given according to certain conditions.”
The criteria for approving new media houses are still not clear and are due for discussion but Al Hazza expressed hope that the detailed mandate of the authority would be finalised and it would be established in the “near future”.

Public schools re-open in Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait

Ministry officials said that they will bolster the use of electronic education in various schools and that virtual laboratories will be a regular feature in several institutions.

GULFNEWS
Bahrain officials look forward to greater stress on electronic education
  • By Habib Toumi Bureau Chief


Manama It is back to school for more than 128,000 students in Bahrain amid pledges of more advanced facilities in the new academic year.
“We have 128,728 students who will on Sunday start attending 206 schools,” an education ministry official has said. “There are 119 elementary schools, 21 elementary and middle schools, 37 middle schools, 35 high schools and three religious schools.”
According to the official, 10,501 new students have been enrolled in the first year, almost equally divided between young girls (5,304) and boys (5,197).
Among the students in the three levels, 1,400 have special needs students and the ministry has been keen on integrating them within the school community to boost their adaptation levels.
Most of the private schools, often functioning according to a different calendar, last week started their academic year while nurseries and kindergartens are scheduled to open next week.
In neighbouring Qatar, more than 200,000 students are also scheduled to start the new academic year on Sunday.
The expected increase in traffic on the roads has prompted traffic officials to call for extra caution and careful planning to avoid congestions.
Education officials said that 1,650 buses would take around 80,000 girls and boys to and back from schools and that more than 40,000 private cars would be used by school staff and by parents to drive their children to school.
The back-to-school season in Kuwait’s public schools also starts on Sunday when around 58,000 teachers join 799 schools in the country.
However, the first batch of the 374,000 students enrolled in all elementary, middle and high schools will start attending classes on September 16.

Kuwait school ordered to re-admit veiled student

Kuwait ex-MP bats for a GCC foreign minister


Al Munawer argues move would serve the goal of a Gulf Union
  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief

Manama: Former Kuwaiti lawmaker Osama Al Munawer has made a stirring plea for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to appoint a foreign minister.
“The GCC is in dire need of creating a post of foreign minister,” Al Munawer, a member of the parliament elected in February and dissolved in June wrote on his Twitter account. “The current conditions require the unification of all efforts and decisions. This is a step forward towards the Gulf Union.”
Several GCC lawmakers and columnists, citing looming security concerns and regional threats, have been pushing for closer ties between the six member states of the GCC and the creation of unified institutions that will strengthen the bloc.
Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been engaged in talks to pave the way for a formal union after Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz told fellow GCC states that it was time for the alliance, founded in 1981 in Abu Dhabi, to move from the phase of cooperation to a Gulf Union within a single entity.
The council members have reportedly agreed on the move but ascribe to different views on a realistic timeframe.
An ad-hoc commission, made up of 12 members, two from each member country, was set up to look into ways to implement the proposal and its report was submitted to the Council. Bahrain and Saudi Arabia were openly enthusiastic about the move, while other members said that more time was needed to achieve the transition.
However, the GCC leaders at their annual advisory summit in Riyadh in May came round to the view that more time was needed and that the initiative would be reviewed by the council of foreign ministers.

Iraq VP Tariq al-Hashemi sentenced to death

BBCNEWS

Iraq's fugitive vice-president Tariq al-Hashemi has been sentenced to death in absentia after a court found him guilty of running death squads.

Bahrain protesters clash with police in Manama

BBCNEWS

Anti-government demonstrators have clashed with riot police in Bahrain's capital Manama as activists defied a ban on unauthorised protests.

Police fired tear gas and blocked roads in an effort to put down the protest.
Protesters from Bahrain's Shia Muslim majority have been demanding reforms from the ruling Sunni Muslim al-Khalifa family since last year.
Last week thousands of people took part in an approved protest, without incident.
Friday's protests were the latest attempt by Shia-led anti-government activists to revive an uprising which started in February 2011 and has so far killed 19 people.
Authorised protests in Bahrain, a small Gulf island state which hosts the fifth fleet of the US navy, have been held largely on the outskirts of the capital.
The latest demonstration was held in central Manama.
Police tried to block some roads using armoured vehicles to prevent demonstrators from reaching the march, Reuters reported.
The Bahraini government has tried to mollify protesters with some reforms and last year appointed a leading lawyer to assess the powerful crackdown on protesters last year.
The al-Khalifa family called in help from Saudi Arabia's military and the United Arab Emirates' police force to help quell demonstrations last year.
Earlier this week a court in Manama upheld prison sentences of between five and 25 years handed to some leading activists.

The Awakening of Manama ; Personal Reflection


The regime may hold billions of oil dollars in it’s bank accounts, seal arm deals in millions to repress it’s own people, play with the judiciary system and control the media with a strong fist, yet, steady footsteps of few hundreds of peaceful freedom seekers raising their arms and chanting loud in the capital Manama, cause the regime a massive heart attack that paralyses its entire system!

The opposition political parties have announced that a pro-democracy march will be held in the capital of Bahrain, Manama, at 4:00 PM. The Ministry of Interior as usual broadcasted: “The protest in Manama is illegal and all those participating will be held accountable.”. (Yah, Right!).
There will be many posts that will write about the Human Rights violations and how the regime continue to be as dark and brutal as it always was. But here I will write about my personal reflection e,about something bright, about the overwhelming humane side of the people.
For me, Manama protests have always been the most tricky ones, because once it is announced, Ministry of Interior blocks all entrances, and I am no expert in all it’s secret narrow alleys to get in  .

“The massive traffic jam on the main highway caused by police blocking all roads”

This time, I picked up a dear friend who knew the secret maps of Manama that newly recruited “mercenaries” who came from foreign countries have no idea about. As we drove to our capital, it was evident that we live under a militarised regime! Policemen/women “mercenaries” with their arms, police jeeps, cars, tanks are blocking and surrounding Manama and its outskirts, someone tweeted saying “I bet the Ministry of Interior is absolutely empty, even the building security officers are sent to Manama”!

“Police blocking roads with jeeps and police tanks”

One thing you need to know, Bahrain is a very small island, and we live in the small percentage of that small island since the rest is taken by the “ruling” family -Don’t believe me? check Google Earth :) – , so when I say the “outskirts” of Manama was blocked by police , it literarily means that the ENTIRE COUNTRY got blocked!


De spite of it all, we succeeded to to enter Manama.
Once we entered Manama, we were invited into a house along with many women awaiting the time of the protest. I was able to recognise a number of them, a wife of a human rights activist who’s in hiding, a sister of a detainee who is sentenced to 15 years, two women who were detained previously.
When I read pro-regime newspapers and media outlets describing protestors as : “Teenage rioters who are misled by the political leaders”, I don’t get upset or angry, I simply laugh at this blunt lie. Because the protestors I was among were women from all ages, some of them were grandmothers wearing sports shoes  and fired up to join the protest at any moment.


Because the massive march was not allowed due to the extensive presence of mercenaries , people decided to initiate smaller protests whenever a good number of people gathered, un-announcing the time nor the street.
And just like magic, at the most important spot in Bahrain, the roaring chants of peaceful protestors started and people came from unexpected places to remind the regime once more, that its our country and our land long before they invaded our soils.
Soon after we protested, police started attacking us and we were chased. And doors suddenly opened up offering a refuge to protestors to prevent them from being killed, beaten or arrested by the mercenaries.


Personally I had to seek refuge for 4 times each time a protest emerged. But what was astonishing for me is, I am being rescued by people I have never met in my life, people I do not know and they do not know me, they don’t know my sect, they know nothing except that I might be in danger and I need help.
Once we are invited in a house, cold water is given to us and a place to allow us catch our breath. People were reading the updates on the twitter but my mind was somewhere else.
“The tea I was offered by one family”

I was wandering my sight inside the small houses of Manama with their old doors, walls and furniture. I don’t know how can such a small house be inhabited by an entire family and in some cases families. it seems like celling is about to fall, any moment! The mother in the house offered water and tea, guided us to the room. And again, I don’t know them, they don’t know me! The modest hospitality of those families overwhelemed me.
@JamilaHanan tweeted something today that hit the exact overwhelming sense I felt yesterday in Manama and could not find the words to described it, she wrote:
“Sometimes the world seems such a horrible place, but the more one exposes evil, the more one discovers that love is even stronger”
And it is very true, the hospitality, care and their act of kindness was more powerful than all of the repression happening outside. They help people in need in spite of the danger of being raided and attacked any moment.


The cracks on the walls invited the teargas inside the packed houses, children came in running shouting “TEARGAS, TEARGAS”. A little girl did something astonishing, she instantly covered her nose with her dress. I bet she did not understand what “teargas” is, yet she has experienced it a lot before to make her know its bad and deadly.

“The child covering her nose to avoid teargas”

The graceful hospitality of the people in Manama at times where most people would close their doors, kept me thinking about our own history in Bahrain and about the native Bahrainis, who were invaded by the current ruling family from Zubara “Qatar” just 200 years ago. Was our ancestors’s genuine hospitality without discrimination played a fatal role in accepting to be ruled under outsiders who made us believe that they are part of us?? .. I can only wonder ..
“Spy Ballon in Manama”

I have heard and seen photos of the “Spy Balloon” but never saw it until this Friday. The regime claims that the balloon is used to check the “pollution” in the air, yet, I wonder, what was it doing in Manama, where the most polluted village “Ma’ameer” never witnessed it! (Hard to believe official statements, isn’t it??)
Near magreb prayer, I had to leave, I thanked those who opened their hearts and homes for me, found the friend I’ve lost when the protest started. On our way out, police were in every turn, and when you drive a car there is no escape in the small narrow roads, the scene was crystal clear. On one corner, we saw mercenaries ambushing a group of protestors, on another we saw them arresting a young man.
“Mercenaries arrested a  young man from the protest”

On my way home, the traffic was horrible. Police had checkpoints in all the main roads till night. The laughable joke was in today’s newspaper where Minister of Justice, Minister of Interior and “crippled” parliament were accusing the political parties of obstructing traffic and causing the economy to collapse!
hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha ! Are they serious?

Now the public persecution “funny to know, sometimes my autocorrect changes its to prostit**” is filing a case againt “Al-Wefaq” for the calling for the illegal protest. I have two comments on this :
1. Why  only Al-Wefaq??? All opposition parties called for the protest? why only pick Al-Wefaq??

2. The Regime is saying that the protest is illegal and all those participating are accountable,  May I remind you and remind myself that the Pro-regime protest “Al-Fateh” called by Mahmood Abdul-latif leading the  National Unity Gathering was in fact ILLEGAL !

As per the Report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI Report) – commissioned by Hamad Bin Salman:
292. Despite the fact that this gathering was not authorized, there was no record of attempts by the police or government security services to disperse the crowds gathered at the Al-Fateh Mosque. Later, small rallies described as supportive of the King and the GoB were reported in the Sheikh Issa bin Salman Road and the King Faisal Highway. No information is available regarding any attempts to confront or disperse these unauthorised demonstrations.
The above gathering was not authorized and was an illegal gathering! I heard no one was accused of illegal gathering! I heard no one was in prison, attacked, killed or received a letter from a court! Not even people faces being circled on National TV for breaking the Law, the Head of that gathering was not accused, Newspapers promoting the gathering were not stopped! (which they did and more to Pro-Democracy Supporters) yet, it was celebrated by the Government of Bahrain and started financing them handsomely!
Which is something I am not against at ALL ! They have the right to express their support to the Government in any peaceful mean they can. I believe that they should not take permission from the Government either, it’s their right. And the Minister of Justice every time he appears on a media outlet he is desperate to convince us that the law applied is “not biased”..
“Free Nabeel poster in a wall in Bahrain”

Good also to remember that “Nabele Rajab, president of Bahrain Centre for Human Rights” is sentenced to 3 years in prison for calling illegal protests. hmmm .. where is Abdulatif Al-Mahdmood??  * Food for thoughts*

In Manama protest, 6-10 people were arrested, among them a dear colleague of mine. As much as it aches to know that he is behind bars, as much as I know that he is proud of every step he took in Manama, of every breath he inhaled, every shout he raised and every sight he witnessed. He may be subjected to torture and his body aches, but secretly I know, he is smiling somehow from the inside. Freedom to you my friend.


Manama, has finally been awakened by a big alarm, a successful march to be added to our victorious milestones on our revolution.
We shall meet soon our beloved Manama.

We Remain,
@AhlamOun