Posts in Political mayhem

The use of the word ‘observer’

The United Nations News agency IRIN ran a story today about the ongoing Hamas vs. Jordan issue. The thing that bugged me about the article was its choice of headline: Observers skeptical about Hamas plot in kingdom. The reason I’m peeved about this is not my subjective take on the issue but the fact that the writer/editor of this article chose the word "observers" for the headline when the article only quotes members of the Muslim brotherhood.

My humble experience as a journalist/writer taught me that "observer" is a label used for renowned writers, academics and scholars — pundits. I do not really buy the labeling of members of an opposition group as "observers." Another thing worth highlighting is the article’s quote from IAF member Zaki Abu Rsheid saying:

Neither I, nor anybody else in the kingdom, believe the government’s story that Hamas planned attacks against targets in the kingdom, despite a televised confession by two men arrested in connection with the case, said Abu Rsheid.

Dear Mr. Abu Rsheid, please do not speak for all Jordanians … or at least do not speak for me. Okay, enough about Hamas for now. I hope I don’t have to discuss this topic again, as whenever I do the discussions on this blog get heated, bordering at times on the offensive. If you choose to leave a comment on this very subjective blog, please keep it civil. Thank you.

Kuwaiti public hanging: It’s a mad, mad world!

Kuwaiti public execution While doing my usual daily surfing of the Arab blogoshpere this morning I came across this disturbing picture of public hangings occurring in Kuwait City as featured on the blog 2:48AM ~ The B Sides. [Click the picture to enlarge] Yes, you heard me right. Public hangings are occurring in this day and time!

Welcome to the Middle East ladies and gentleman. It’s a place where you cannot kiss in public — or show any public displays of affection — but you’ll definitely get an opportunity to see the sights and sounds of public executions! Yes, I’m frustrated!

Atwar Bahjat, rest in peace

I am really shocked by the horrifying news today of the murder of Alarabiya reporter Atwar Bahjat and her crew in Samarra, Iraq.

Screen capture of Attwar Bahjat Two gunmen pulled up in a pickup truck, shooting in the air and shouting: "We want the correspondent," The Associated Press quoted Al-Arabiya as reporting. "Atwar was in the news van and shouted to the crowd to help her."

"The crew tried to speak to the gunmen, but they snatched them and took them [to] an unknown location. By this time, night had fallen," Reuters quoted Al-Arabiya’s Baghdad correspondent Ahmed al-Saleh as telling viewers. Saleh said the bodies had been dumped near the town of Dawr near Samarra. All three were Iraqi citizens. Source: [CNN]

I met Atwar briefly last year in Doha, Qatar. I remember her as being so extremely friendly. I’m really just appalled by such a cold-blooded murder. May her soul rest in peace. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has issued a statement on the killings:

We are horrified by this appalling act. We will never stop repeating that journalists are neutral and vital observers. They are neither combatants nor targets to be shot down. Their work must be protected and respected, whatever their nationality and regardless of which media they work for.

… A total of 82 journalists and media assistants have been killed since the start of the war in Iraq. Seven of them have died since 1st January 2006, making this start of the year the most deadly in three years. Atwar Bahjat is the 7th woman journalist to be killed since the war in Iraq began.

The situation in Iraq seems to be getting worse by the day. When will all this mayhem come to an end once and for all!

‘My nationality: a right for me and my family’

My Nationality bookletProbably one of the most inspiring campaigns I’ve seen in the Arab world lately is the Lebanese campaign "My nationality: a right for me and my family," which is geared towards pushing for the right of Lebanese women to pass citizenship on to their children. As is the case in a majority of Arab counties:

"According to Article 1 of the Lebanese Domestic Law, only the child born of a Lebanese father" is deemed Lebanese.

While Lebanon acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1997, it placed a reservation on the article that stipulates that "states parties shall grant women equal rights with respect to the nationality of their children." The reservation exempts the government from having to implement the article. Source: [IRIN]

I have discussed this topic on my blog a number of times, primarily because I am personally affected by this sexist law and I just can’t get over it. Apparently, things in Lebanon are somewhat better than Jordan. In particular:

Since 2004, an administrative measure taken by the General Security body in the interior ministry, permits children born of Lebanese mothers and foreign fathers to obtain renewable residence permits every three years free of charge. Before this, such parents had to pay US $200 for a renewable, one-year residency permit for their children. Source: [IRIN]

This is not the case in Jordan. Even a residence permit for children with foreign fathers is not given automatically or free of charge. This campaign is appealing to the Lebanese government and parliament, asserting the full citizenship rights of Lebanese women and calling for the "amendment of the articles deemed discriminatory against women." The issue is controversial, as the primary reason behind this law is political!

"Politicians fear that if women are allowed to pass their nationality onto their husbands, many Palestinians will take advantage of this and start marrying Lebanese women en masse," said Ahmad Halimi of the Popular Aid for Relief and Development NGO that works with Palestinians in Lebanon. Source: [IRIN]

Kudos to the Lebanese for their efforts! Hopefully they will get what they want some day soon and then other Arab countries will follow suit.