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World Cup 2022: Qatar faced 'slander' campaign since being awarded tournament, says emir

Tue, 10/25/2022 - 11:09
World Cup 2022: Qatar faced 'slander' campaign since being awarded tournament, says emir
Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani says an unprecedented level of criticism was directed at the country over the past decade
MEE staff Tue, 10/25/2022 - 12:09
Visitors take photos with a FIFA World Cup sign in Doha ahead of the football tournament, 23 October 2022 (AFP)
Visitors take photos with a FIFA World Cup sign in Doha ahead of the football tournament, 23 October 2022 (AFP)

Qatar has faced an unprecedented criticism campaign that amounted to slander and fabrications since winning the bid to host the 2022 World Cup, the country's ruler Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said on Tuesday.

"Since we had the honour of hosting the World Cup, Qatar has been the target of an unprecedented campaign that no other host country has suffered," Al Thani said during the opening speech of the Shura Council legislative chamber.

In the televised address, the emir said Qatar dealt with this criticism in good faith and "even considered some criticism as positive and useful to help us improve aspects that need to be improved".

However, he added that the campaign was relentless and included "slander and double standards until it reached such a ferocity that everyone wondered about the real motives and reasons behind this campaign". 

Qatar World Cup: Football, neoliberalism and revolution in the Middle East
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"We are aware of the importance of hosting a major event such as the World Cup in the Arab world, and Qatar is now more like a workshop in preparing for events," the emir said.

"[The World Cup] is an occasion to show who we are, not only in terms of the strength of our economy and institutions, but also at the level of our identity."

Qatar won the bid to host the global football tournament in 2o1o, making it the first Arab and Muslim country to do so.

Gianni Infantino, the Fifa president, has said the Qatar World Cup, set to start on 20 November, will be the "best ever".

The energy-rich Gulf country has faced criticism over a wide range of issues by human rights activists since 2010, including reports of mistreatment of migrant workers and LGBTQ+ people. 

Since being awarded the World Cup tournament, Qatar has been under intense pressure to reform its labour rights and ban the exploitative kafala system

But despite making strides in labour reforms, migrant workers in Qatar are still banned from joining trade unions and participating in strikes. 

Qatar faced 'slander' campaign since being awarded World Cup, says emir

Israel-Gaza: Amnesty calls for probe into possible war crimes during offensive in August

Tue, 10/25/2022 - 10:58
Israel-Gaza: Amnesty calls for probe into possible war crimes during offensive in August
Human rights group says 'unlawful attacks' killed civilians despite Israel boasting about the precision of its weapons
MEE staff Tue, 10/25/2022 - 11:58
Classmates of Palestinian girl Lian al-Shaer, who was killed in an Israeli air strike in August, mourn her death on the first day of school after the summer holiday, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, on 29 August 2022 (AFP)
Classmates of Palestinian girl Lian al-Shaer, who was killed in an Israeli air strike in August, mourn her death on the first day of school, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, on 29 August 2022 (AFP)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) "must investigate unlawful attacks" and possible war crimes during Israel’s August offensive on the Gaza Strip, Amnesty International said in a news report on Tuesday.

The human rights advocacy organisation collected photographs of weapons fragments, satellite imagery and testimonies that it says amount to evidence that war crimes were committed in three separate attacks during the three-day bombing campaign. 

Two were committed by Israel and killed six civilians despite Israel boasting about the precision of its attacks, according to the report.

The victims included a four-year-old boy, a teenager visiting his mother’s grave and a student at home with her family. 

“Israel’s latest offensive on Gaza lasted only three days, but that was ample time to unleash fresh trauma and destruction on the besieged population," said Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

'Israel’s latest offensive on Gaza lasted only three days, but that was ample time to unleash fresh trauma and destruction on the besieged population'

- Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International

The London-based NGO examined a third incident that left seven civilans killed in “what appears to have been caused by an unguided rocket” fired by Palestinian groups.

"The three deadly attacks we examined must be investigated as war crimes; all victims of unlawful attacks and their families deserve justice and reparations,” Callamard added. 

Amnesty documented 17 attacks during the offensive, but it could only gather sufficient evidence to assess the lawfulness of three of those.

Israeli authorities have blocked Amnesty workers from reaching the Gaza Strip since 2012, so the organisation relied on local fieldworkers, wh0 collected 42 interviews and visual evidence from the sites of the attacks.

On 5 August 2022, Israel launched a pre-emptive military offensive on Gaza to target the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and its armed branch, the Al-Quds Brigades.

During the offensive, 49 Palestinians were killed, including 17 children, and more than 360 wounded as Israeli air strikes rained down on the besieged Strip over three days.

Amnesty said 33 were killed by Israeli forces while seven were killed by misfired Palestinian rockets. For the remaining nine, the group said it could not determine which party was responsible for their death.

Rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups did not cause the death or serious injury of Israeli civilians.

Amnesty calls for probe into possible war crimes during Gaza offensive in August

Israel: Top doctor says 'Arab womb' is overwhelming country with high birthrate

Mon, 10/24/2022 - 11:13
Israel: Top doctor says 'Arab womb' is overwhelming country with high birthrate
Palestinian health workers call for dismissal of medical chief after he suggests 'regressive' child allowance policy that fines women who give birth to five children
MEE staff Mon, 10/24/2022 - 12:13
Medical staff work at the Covid-19 isolation ward of Soroka Medical Center in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba on 15 September 2020 (AFP)

A top Israeli medical official expressed fear of the "Arab womb" on Sunday and suggested fines on Palestinian mothers giving birth to five children to limit the Palestinian fertility rate in the country.

Gideon Sahar, director of the Department of Thoracic and Heart Surgery at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba, was speaking at a meeting of the far-right Jewish Home party where he directed a question to Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked about the "most problematic population", referring to Palestinian citizens of Israel

“Regarding the matter of population growth and the more problematic population, we face a kind of paradox," Sahar explained. 

"On the one hand, we understand that the birthrate is decisive - the Arab womb; and on the other hand, we encourage it with all the child allowances. 

"That's why I think we should consider a child allowance that is regressive: the first child receives one, the second child receives one, perhaps the third child; the fourth child does not, and the fifth child perhaps triggers a fine. We have to figure out something," he added. 

דרישה לפטר את פרופ' גדעון סהר, מנהל מחלקת ניתוחי לב וחזה בסורוקה, על דבריו נגד "ריבוי האוכלוסייה בעייתית". סהר דיבר בחוג בית שקיימה אמש איילת שקד בעומר וטען כי "מצד אחד אנחנו מבינים שהילודה היא זאת שמכריעה אותנו, הרחם הערבי. ומצד שני אנחנו מעודדים את זה עם קצבאות הילדים". pic.twitter.com/XksiwpC24R

— Nati Yefet (@ntiyft) October 24, 2022

In response, Shaked said the suggestion was "impractical" and said the best solution is to help Palestinian women "simply undergo Westernisation". 


Sahar's comments have caused an uproar among Palestinian citizens of Israel, who are the descendants of those expelled from their homes in the Nakba.

Palestinian medical workers called his remarks "racist" and demanded his dismissal.

'Anyone who sees the Arab womb as a threat has no place in the health system'

- The Association of Arab Doctors of the Negev

The Association of Arab Doctors of the Negev filed a petition signed by more than 150 doctors calling for disciplinary action against the doctor. 

"Anyone who sees the Arab womb as a threat has no place in the health system, and certainly cannot care for the hearts of the Arabs," read the petition. 

The petition stated that following his comments there was no way to be confident in Sahar treating Palestinian patients with the same care as Jewish patients. 

"We expect the hospital management to take a strong stance against statements of this kind, from which emerges a spirit of general racial arrogance against an entire population."

Birthrate fears

For years, Palestinian citizens of Israel had a higher birth rate than their Jewish peers, which has long been a concern among many Israelis who view it as threatening their demographic superiority in the country.

However, the fertility rate among Palestinians has gone down to 2.9 in 2022 from 9.2 in 1960, compared to 3.0 among Jewish women.

Earlier this year the government passed a law to block the unification of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip with their spouses who hold Israeli citizenship. 

The new bill extended emergency legislation that was passed in 2003 to prevent those from the Palestinian territories from gaining residency or citizenship of Israel through marriage to another citizen.

Shaked openly said the law was passed for "demographic reasons" and was aimed at stopping the "creeping right of return".

The law was denounced as racist by Palestinians, who make up around 20 percent of Israel's citizens in addition to the five million Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.

Israeli doctor says 'Arab womb' overwhelming country with high birthrate

Qatar World Cup: MBS tells national team nil points is okay

Mon, 10/24/2022 - 09:54
Qatar World Cup: MBS tells national team nil points is okay
Mohammed bin Salman urges players to play for enjoyment and not think about the pressure
MEE staff Mon, 10/24/2022 - 10:54
Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, speaks to members and football players of the national team ahead of the World Cup, 23 October 2022 (Twitter/@spagov)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks to the national team and staff ahead of the World Cup, 23 October 2022 (Twitter/@spagov)

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told his country's football players that no one expects them to win any points in the upcoming World Cup in Qatar. 

In a reception ahead of the tournament, the crown prince said on Sunday that he doesn't want the players to feel they were "under pressure".

"I know our group is difficult in the World Cup, and nobody expects us to secure a win or a draw. So what I want to say is just be comfortable, play your game and enjoy the tournament," Mohammed bin Salman said, addressing the national team and staff. 

Saudi Arabia is in Group C of the World Cup, along with Argentina, Mexico and Poland. The "Green Falcons", as they are nicknamed locally, will kick off their tournament on 22 November against Argentina, twice a winner of the World Cup in 1978 and 1986.  

#فيديو_واس | سمو #ولي_العهد يستقبل لاعبي المنتخب السعودي الأول لكرة القدم وأعضاء الجهازين الفني والإداري.#واس pic.twitter.com/NFl1tqEgc8

— واس الأخبار الملكية (@spagov) October 23, 2022

"I don't want any of you to be under psychological pressure that will affect your spontaneous performance," the crown prince affirmed.

"What's important to me is that they enjoy the three matches," he added, while addressing the Saudi minister of sport.


The Saudi national football team has won three matches out of 16 fixtures they played in the World Cup across five tournaments between 1994 and 2018.

Led by the French coach Herve Renard, the Saudi national team has demonstrated its eagerness to put on a good show in the World Cup by starting preparation 10 days earlier than other teams competing in Qatar.

Saudi Arabia is reportedly preparing to launch a bid to host the World Cup in 2030, along with Greece and Egypt. 

The Gulf state has invested heavily in sport in recent years, acquiring the rights to host Formula One and major international boxing events, as well as investing in the English Premier League football club Newcastle United.

Such investments have been mired in controversy, with human rights groups accusing Riyadh of sportswashing its human rights abuses.

'Nobody expects us to win or draw': MBS tells players to enjoy World Cup

World Cup 2022: Qatar detained and abused LGBTQ+ people, says report

Mon, 10/24/2022 - 07:23
World Cup 2022: Qatar detained and abused LGBTQ+ people, says report
Authorities subjected gay and transgender Qataris to severe beatings and sexual harassment in custody, according to Human Rights Watch
MEE staff Mon, 10/24/2022 - 08:23
People walking past the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup countdown clock in the Qatari capital Doha on 20 October 2022 (AFP)
People walking past the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup countdown clock in the Qatari capital Doha on 20 October 2022 (AFP)

Qatari authorities have arbitrarily arrested LGBTQ+ people and subjected them to ill-treatment in detention, Human Rights Watch said on Monday. 

The New York-based rights group interviewed six LGBTQ+ Qataris, including four transgender women, one bisexual woman and one gay man, who documented severe beatings and sexual harassment in police custody from 2019 until as recently as September, just weeks before the Gulf state hosts the World Cup

“While Qatar prepares to host the World Cup, security forces are detaining and abusing LGBT people simply for who they are, apparently confident that the security force abuses will go unreported and unchecked,” said Rasha Younes, LGBTQ+ rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. 

Security forces arrested people in public places based on their gender expression and unlawfully searched their phones, HRW said, as well as mandating that transgender women attend conversion therapy at a government-sponsored centre. 

In a statement, a Qatari official said that the country does not “licence or operate ‘conversion centres”. 

The official claimed HRW’s report “contain[s] information that is categorically and unequivocally false," without specifying further. 

All those interviewed by the rights group said that Qatar’s preventative security department detained them in an underground prison in the al-Dafna district of the capital city, Doha. 

At the facility, they were subject to verbal harassment and physical abuse, including slapping, kicking, and punching until they bled. 

Authorities extracted forced confessions and denied access to legal counsel, family, or medical care, and forced detainees to sign pledges to “cease immoral activity”. 

Transgender women abused 

A transgender Qatari woman said she was arrested on the street in Doha, and beaten in the police car until her lips and nose were bleeding, in addition to having her stomach kicked.

“I saw many other LGBT people detained... two Moroccan lesbians, four Filipino gay men, and one Nepalese gay man,” she said. 

“I was detained for three weeks without charge, and officers repeatedly sexually harassed me. Part of the release requirement was attending sessions with a psychologist who ‘would make me a man again.’”

Another transgender woman said she was beaten daily and her hair was shaved. 

“They made me take off my shirt and took a picture of my breasts. I suffered from depression because of my detention. I still have nightmares to this day, and I’m terrified of being in public,” she added. 

All the LGBTQ+ detainees that spoke to HRW said that the authorities forced them to hand over their phones, taking screenshots of private pictures and chats.

“The Qatari government should call an immediate halt to this abuse and Fifa should push the Qatari government to ensure long-term reform that protects LGBT people from discrimination and violence,” said Younes. 

Same-sex acts between consenting adults in private are a criminal offence in Qatar punishable by up to seven years in prison. 

Fatma Al-Nuaimi, communications director for Qatar's 2022 World Cup Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, previously told Middle East Eye that “everybody is welcome regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation”. 

When asked about whether the tournament would bring about reforms for LGBTQ+ Qataris, Nuaimi asked for people to “respect the culture and the tradition of the country”. 

Qatar detained and abused LGBTQ+ people ahead of World Cup, says report

Sudan: Government forces fatally shoot protester as coup anniversary looms

Sun, 10/23/2022 - 19:10
Sudan: Government forces fatally shoot protester as coup anniversary looms
Latest death brings the number of demonstrators killed since last year's October military coup to 118
MEE and agencies Sun, 10/23/2022 - 20:10
Sudanese protesters block a street in Omdourman the capital Khartoum’s twin city on 21 October (AFP/File photo)

Security forces shot dead a protester in Sudan's capital on Sunday, medics said, two days ahead of the first anniversary of a military coup that derailed the country's transition to civilian rule.

The latest death - the first of a protester since 31 August - brings to 118 the number of demonstrators killed over the past year, according to the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors.

Sudan’s Unfinished Democracy: A new history of the 2019 revolution
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The demonstrator was killed "by a bullet fired by the security forces," the committee said. 

Tuesday marks one year since the 25 October coup led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, a year marked by near-weekly anti-coup rallies and a crackdown on protests by the authorities.

The coup upended a transition to civilian rule that was launched after the 2019 ouster of strongman Omar al-Bashir, who ruled the northeast African country for three decades.

In July, Burhan pledged in a televised address to step aside and make way for Sudanese factions to agree on a civilian government.

However, civilian leaders dismissed his move as a "ruse".

Pro-democracy protesters have since held fast to their rallying cry of "no negotiation, no partnership" with the military, and have pledged a show of force for Tuesday's anniversary.

On Friday, thousands of people took to city streets across Sudan to demand a return to civilian rule in one of the world's poorest countries as it sinks even further into political and economic crisis.

Despite international mediators trying to get the army and civilian factions to negotiate, no end seems in sight to the impasse.

The economic situation is only getting worse, with three-digit inflation and a third of the country's 45 million people suffering from food shortages.

Iran's atomic energy organisation emails hacked, in solidarity with protests

Sun, 10/23/2022 - 13:04
Iran's atomic energy organisation emails hacked, in solidarity with protests
Hacking group releases information on Bushehr power plant, declaring support for demonstrations sparked by death of Mahsa Amini
MEE and agencies Sun, 10/23/2022 - 14:04
Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant during a ceremony to kick-start works on a second reactor at the facility on 10 November 2019 (AFP)
Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant during a ceremony to kickstart work on a second reactor at the facility on 10 November 2019 (AFP)

Iran's atomic energy organisation said the email server of one of its subsidiaries had been hacked from a foreign country and information published online, state media reported on Sunday.

Black Reward, an Iranian hacking group, published a statement on Twitter declaring that it had released information on Iranian nuclear activities. 

The statement ended with the words "in the name of Mahsa Amini and for women, life, freedom" - echoing the slogan of the weeks-long protests in Iran sparked by the death of 22-year-old Amini while in custody of the country's morality police last month.

According to the group, the hacked data consisted of "management and operational schedules of different parts of Bushehr power plant" located 1200km south of Tehran, as well passport and visa documents of Iranian and Russian specialists working there. 

It also included "atomic development contracts and agreements with domestic and foreign partners". 

The atomic energy organisation played down the significance of the hacked information, suggesting that the move "was made with the aim of attracting public attention". 

"It should be noted that the content in users' emails contains technical messages and routine and current everyday exchanges," state media reported.

On Friday, Black Reward threatened to release hacked information within 24 hours unless Iran released political prisoners and those arrested during recent protests. 

Iran's crackdown on demonstrators protesting over Amini's death, following her arrest for wearing an "inappropriate" hijab, has left scores of people dead, with Tehran linking the unrest to foreign foes.

The nationwide protests have turned into one of the boldest challenges to the Iranian government since the 1979 revolution.

Palestinian fighter killed by Israel in targeted explosion, Lion's Den group says

Sun, 10/23/2022 - 09:46
Palestinian fighter killed by Israel in targeted explosion, Lion's Den group says
The group says Tamer Kilani was killed overnight when a rigged motorcycle exploded as he passed by in the Old City of Nablus
MEE staff Sun, 10/23/2022 - 10:46
A man inspects a damaged motorcycle at the scene where Palestinian Lion's Den member Tamer Kilani was killed in an explosion in Nablus on 23 October (Reuters)

A senior member of The Lion's Den was killed in an explosion in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, in what the newly formed Palestinian armed resistance group has called a targeted assassination by Israel.

Tamer Kilani was killed overnight in the Old City of Nablus when a bomb placed on a motorcycle parked nearby was detonated, The Lion's Den said in a statement.

The group said Israel assassinated Kilani, one of its "fiercest fighters", with a "sticky TNT device" and vowed to deal Israel "a harsh and painful response".

The Lion's Den has emerged in the Old City of Nablus in recent months, where clashes between Palestinian fighters and Israeli military forces have been occurring almost daily.

Tamer Kilani was a senior member of The Lion's Den, a newly formed Palestinian resistance group (social media)
Tamer Kilani was a senior member of The Lion's Den, a newly formed Palestinian resistance group (social media)

"The bomb exploded as he passed by and he became a martyr," Kilani's father, Sufian Kilani, who was not at the scene when the bomb went off, told Reuters. 

//--> //--> //--> //--> //-->

"We don't know whether the bomb was timed or triggered remotely."

Kilani had spent eight years in an Israeli prison on charges of belonging to the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Palestinian media reported.

The Israeli military did not comment on its involvement in the killing, but an army spokeswoman claimed Kilani was involved in attacks targeting Israelis, according to AFP.

In one of two videos published by The Lion's Den on Telegram, an unidentified person can be seen parking the rigged motorcycle. The second footage shows the moment the blast occurred. 

The militant group Lions den accused #Israel of assassinating one of its fighters by sticking an explosive device on a motorcycle parked off a road by what they claimed an “Israeli collaborator” near the old city of Nablus, video showed the explosion pic.twitter.com/J54gAgke73

— Rushdi Abualouf (@Rushdibbc) October 23, 2022

Several Palestinian factions paid tribute to Kilani, with the Fatah movement describing his killing as a "cowardly assassination". A day of mourning has been declared in Nablus.

Palestinians gathered on Sunday around the charred remains of a motorbike that was allegedly laden with explosives.

Dozens of Palestinian fighters and civilians have been killed this year amid an increase in Israeli military raids, most targeting the northern West Bank.

Israel's top court rejects appeals against Lebanon maritime deal

Sun, 10/23/2022 - 09:07
Israel's top court rejects appeals against Lebanon maritime deal
Supreme Court says demarcating disputed Israeli-Lebanese border does not need Knesset approval, paving way for the signing of agreement
MEE and agencies Sun, 10/23/2022 - 10:07
An Israeli Navy vessel is moored in Mediterranean waters off Israel's crossing at Rosh Hanikra, known in Lebanon as Ras al-Naqura, at the border between the two countries on 4 October 2022 (AFP)
An Israeli Navy vessel is moored in Mediterranean waters off Israel's crossing at Rosh Hanikra, known in Lebanon as Ras al-Naqura, at the border between the two countries on 4 October (AFP)

Israel's Supreme Court rejected four petitions on Sunday filed against a US-mediated maritime border deal with Lebanon, paving the way for the agreement to be signed in the coming days. 

Four appeals, including one from far-right Israeli lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir, called on the country's highest court to force the government to hold a full vote on the deal in the Knesset. 

Sheikh Jarrah: Israeli lawmaker Ben-Gvir pulls gun on Palestinian residents
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Earlier this month, an "historic" agreement was reached between Israel and Lebanon, demarcating a disputed maritime border in the Mediterranean, allowing both sides to capitalise on potential gas discoveries vital for their economies. 

The neighbouring countries, who have historically fought several wars with each other, established a mechanism for both to receive royalties from exploration by French company TotalEnergies of a gas field straddling the maritime boundary.

With Israel set for a general election on 1 November, Prime Minister Yair Lapid's caretaker government has attempted to fast track the deal. 

Petitioners to the court argued that the government had exceeded its authority by approving the deal, claiming that it must be voted for in parliament or put to a referendum. 

But on Sunday, the Supreme Court ruled that Israeli regulations did not require the cabinet to present all international agreements to the Knesset. 

"According to the regulations, there are cases in which the cabinet can use its discretion and not even inform the Knesset about communications, if an agreement is secret," said Supreme Court President Esther Hayut. 

"The question, in this case, is whether the cabinet examined all the relevant aspects and concluded that the agreement could be brought before the Knesset without a vote, which is a reasonable course of action."

Minister of Defence Benny Gantz welcomed the court's ruling, describing the timing of the deal close to elections as "not desirable but necessary". 

The Lavi Organisation, one of the appealing parties, said: "[The decision] allows a caretaker government, in its final moments, to agree to a deal that is a surrender to Hezbollah and endangers the security of Israel."

Turkey: Erdogan proposes vote on right to wear hijab

Sat, 10/22/2022 - 20:32
Turkey: Erdogan proposes vote on right to wear hijab
The headscarf was at the centre of debates in the 1990s but no party today proposes or supports a ban in Muslim-majority Turkey
MEE and agencies Sat, 10/22/2022 - 21:32
A woman supporting President Erdogan waves a Turkish flag during a military parade in the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on 20 July 20 2021 (AFP/File photo)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has proposed a nationwide vote on guaranteeing a woman's right to wear a headscarf in state institutions, schools and universities.

The subject is particularly important for devout Muslim Erdogan, whose Islamic-rooted ruling party lifted a long-standing ban on wearing the hijab in state institutions in 2013.

Turkey elections: Why the CHP has changed its stance on headscarves
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The headscarf issue has dominated political debate in recent months ahead of general elections in 2023 that are set to be one of the most serious challenges to Erdogan's two-decade control of Turkey.

Erdogan often refers to the ban's lifting as an example of how his party represents devout Muslim Turks against secular parties that ruled Turkey before his party's arrival in 2002.

"If you have the courage, come, let's put this issue to a referendum... Let the nation make the decision," Erdogan said in remarks aimed at main opposition party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu on Saturday.

Kilicdaroglu leads the secular CHP, a party established by the founder of the secular modern Turkish republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

The CHP leader had proposed a law to guarantee the right to wear a headscarf to alleviate any fears his party would reinstate the ban.

The headscarf was at the centre of debates in the 1990s but no party today proposes a ban in Muslim-majority Turkey.

'If this issue cannot be resolved in parliament, we will submit it to the people'

-Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish President

"We had made mistakes in the past regarding the headscarf," Kilicdaroglu admitted earlier this month. "It's time to leave that issue behind us."

Kilicdaroglu seeks to show religious voters they have nothing to fear from opting for his secular party next year, experts say.

In response, Erdogan proposed a constitutional change that would "soon" be sent for approval to the parliament where his party holds a small majority with his nationalist alliance partner.

But under Turkish law, changes require 400 lawmakers to pass without a need for a referendum and so the CHP would need to give its backing.

Otherwise, with 360 votes, a proposal can be put to the people.

"If this issue cannot be resolved in parliament, we will submit it to the people," Erdogan said.

Israeli forces fatally shoot two Palestinians in occupied West Bank, Jerusalem

Sat, 10/22/2022 - 17:24
Israeli forces fatally shoot two Palestinians in occupied West Bank, Jerusalem
One Palestinian was shot while 'illegally' entering Israel for work, while another was killed following an alleged stabbing attack that left one Israeli injured
MEE and agencies Sat, 10/22/2022 - 18:24
Israeli forces gather around a Palestinian man fatally shot after he allegedly stabbed an Israeli in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah on 22 October (AFP)

Israeli soldiers fatally shot two Palestinians in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem on Saturday, official sources have reported.

The Palestinian killed in the occupied West Bank was shot dead at a checkpoint, Palestinian health officials said. 

The Israeli military alleged that its troops were trying to detain a vehicle after its passengers had crossed "illegally" into Israel. It said the vehicle fled and hit a soldier, after which "the soldiers fired toward the vehicle". 

Israel's occupation of West Bank unlawful under international law, UN report finds
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One of the passengers died at hospital, Palestinian hospital officials said. The victim's father told Palestinian Qudsnet news that his son was headed for work when he was shot. It was unclear whether he had a work permit for entry into Israel.

In Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighbourhood, Israeli police said they shot and "neutralised" a Palestinian who had stabbed and badly wounded an Israeli. Video circulating on social media showed the Palestinian lying wounded at a playground where children had been playing soccer, as an armed police officer stood over him. 

Israel's crackdown in the West Bank has escalated in recent months, occasionally spilling over into Jerusalem.

Israeli forces shot dead a 19-year-old Palestinian overnight on Friday during an operation in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin. The teen was fatally shot in the neck while three others were wounded, the Palestinian health ministry said at the time. 

On Thursday, a 16-year-old Palestinian boy succumbed to his gunshot wounds, a month after he was shot by Israeli military forces. 

More than 120 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem this year, making 2022 the deadliest year since 2015.

This week, UN-appointed commission of inquiry concluded that Israel's "permanent occupation and de-facto annexation" violated international law.

US-brokered talks aimed at ending Israel's decades-old occupation and establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, collapsed in 2014 and show no sign of revival. 

Israel holds an election on 1 November with Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who in September backed a two-state deal with the Palestinians, competing against former hawkish premier Benjamin Netanyahu, who has gone back and forth on the issue.

Yemeni Houthi drones target oil port in first attack since truce expired

Sat, 10/22/2022 - 10:03
Yemeni Houthi drones target oil port in first attack since truce expired
Houthis say attack was to prevent government from using al-Dhaba terminal for oil exports
MEE staff Sat, 10/22/2022 - 11:03
A Houthi fighter is deployed during a ceremony marking the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on 8 October (AFP)

Yemen's Houthi rebels attacked a southern oil port on Friday, in the first operation the group has claimed since a truce between the warring sides ended earlier this month.

The attack targeted a Marshall Islands-flagged tanker, the Nissos Kea, at the port of Ash Shihr, about 550km south of the Houthi-held capital Sanaa, but did not strike it, a Greek company that owns the vessel said.

Okeanis Eco Tankers said that while the tanker was at the buoy for loading, "there were two drone-driven explosions in close proximity", prompting it to leave the port and head out to sea.

The attack did not cause any casualties or damage.

The government warned that it was keeping "all options" on the table in response to the attack and that it could affect any further peace talks.

It is the first announced attack by the Houthis, who control the capital and most of northern Yemen, since the end of a six-month truce between Yemen's warring parties on 2 October.

The Houthis said in a statement they had carried out a "minor warning strike" on Friday on the government-controlled al-Dhaba port in the eastern province of Hadramaut to prevent the government from using it for oil exports.

Yemen's truce between the Houthi movement and forces loyal to the Yemeni government was brokered in April and immediately raised hope that a negotiated route out of the eight-year conflict could be found. Initially agreed for two months, the deal was renewed twice.

The United Nations estimates that around 380,000 people have died as a result of the war, which in 2015 drew in a Saudi-led coalition to prop up the internationally recognised government.

The Houthis have been demanding that the government pay the salaries of employees and retired soldiers in the areas under their control.

The rebels said on Friday that the operation was launched "to prevent the continuation of the widespread looting of oil wealth and the failure to allocate it to serve the people... and pay the salaries of the employees".

Efforts by the UN envoy to Yemen to revive the six-month truce ended in stalemate early this month, as the Yemeni government and the Houthis failed to reach an agreement to extend it.

World Cup 2022: Qatar cancels Yemeni visas for tournament, say local reports

Sat, 10/22/2022 - 09:53
World Cup 2022: Qatar cancels Yemeni visas for tournament, say local reports
Football fans from Yemen complain of Hayya card being revoked with no explanation, potentially causing them to lose vast sums
Rayhan Uddin Sat, 10/22/2022 - 10:53
Workers move trash bins past Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup football tournament posters in Doha on 21 October 2022 (AFP)
Workers move trash bins past Qatar 2022 Fifa World Cup football tournament posters in Doha on 21 October (AFP)

Yemeni football fans have had their Hayya cards, the document which acts as a visa for World Cup ticket holders in Qatar, cancelled without explanation, according to local media reports.

Al-Mashhad al-Yemeni reported on Friday evening that citizens had told the publisher of their surprise after being notified the document had been rejected, despite having been previously approved. 

The report included a screenshot of an email sent to a Yemeni football fan, stating: "Your request for a Hayya card has been declined." No explanation was provided for the decision. 

There has yet to be any official comment from Yemeni or Qatari authorities, or football's governing body Fifa. 

Fifa told Middle East Eye that this was a matter for Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), the World Cup organising committee.

The SC did not respond to MEE's request for comment by the time of publication. 

Aden Today reported that hundreds of Yemeni fans had paid large sums on match tickets, airfare and hotel reservations, and were set to suffer huge losses if the decision was not reversed.

"Without the slightest respect for working with Fifa principles and sports law, Qatar cancelled all Hayya cards belonging to Yemenis," wrote Yemeni journalist Nabil Alosaidi. 

"I wish that the organising committee and the Qatari authorities will be able to resolve this so Yemenis will be able to attend and enjoy the tournament like the rest of the world," tweeted Baraa Shiban, a former adviser to the Yemeni embassy in London. 

In addition to acting as a visa, the Hayya card is necessary to enter football stadiums during the tournament, which kicks off on 20 November. It can also be used by fans to travel on Doha's public transportation for free.

Last week, Saudi Arabian authorities announced that Muslim holders of the card would be able to perform the umrah pilgrimage in Mecca without the need to pay for a visa.

Qatar cancels Yemeni visas for World Cup, say local reports

Afghan Americans enraged over US marine's 'abduction' of orphan

Fri, 10/21/2022 - 18:54
Afghan Americans enraged over US marine's 'abduction' of orphan
The child's next of kin say the three-year-old was reportedly taken away from her rightful guardians after her immediate family was killed in a US-led military operation
Azad Essa Fri, 10/21/2022 - 19:54
The US-led invasion of Afghanistan lasted 20 years, leaving in its wake untold horrors for the Afghan people.
The US-led invasion of Afghanistan lasted 20 years, leaving in its wake untold horrors for the Afghan people (AFP)

Afghan American activists have expressed outrage over allegations that a US marine abducted an Afghan war orphan after luring the baby's legal guardians to the US with the promise of providing medical treatment. 

The girl, now three years old, lost her parents and five siblings in a classified US-led military operation on 6 September 2019. She was seven months old at the time.

The child's extended family is suing the US marine and his wife in a federal court, alleging that the girl was forcibly taken once she arrived in the US in September 2021.

The complaint, filed on 2 September at the Virginia District Court, states that US Marine Joshua Mast and his wife Stephanie Mast convinced the child's legal guardians to bring her to the US where they would assist with her injuries - a fractured skull and femur and second-degree burns - sustained during the operation. 

Court documents say that as soon as her legal guardians arrived in the US, they met with a social worker who took the child from them.

"We call on the State Department, the Department of Justice, and the US Marine Corps to immediately investigate the methods that Joshua Mast used to kidnap this child and to intervene in the ongoing court case to bring forth justice and reunite her with her family," Halema Wali, the co-founder of Afghans for a Better Tomorrow, told Middle East Eye.

"Afghans do not need white saviours who disguise human trafficking as humanitarianism in the name of Christianity," Wali said.

The Masts reject the idea that they deceived the family and took the baby from them, saying in a response to the lawsuit that the Mast's informed them of "Mast’s relationship and legal responsibility for the child," Richard Mast wrote in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

"The sole legal identity created for Baby Doe saved not only her from the evils of life under the Taliban – it saved numerous others – including Plaintiffs John and Jane Doe. The fact that the Does are here in America today is a result of the countless hours invested by these Americans at no charge to the Does," Richard Mast wrote in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, he said. 

On Sunday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan released a statement in which it called the case worrying, adding it was "far from human dignity and an inhumane act".

The lawyer representing the Afghan family declined to comment about the case and the identity of the plaintiffs, citing safety as the reason for maintaining anonymity. 

According to the filing, Joshua Mast, working through his attorney and brother Richard Mast, had already obtained a custody order for the baby despite the child having Afghan citizenship as well as legal guardians in her home country. 

Mast's lawyers did not respond to MEE's requests for comment.

Multiple co-conspirators 

The complainants also name Richard Mast, the family attorney; and Kimberley Motley, a well-known American lawyer who has been operating in Afghanistan for more than a decade; as well as Ahmad Osmani, a Baptist pastor who acted as a translator between the families; as co-conspirators in the lawsuit.

Richard Mast did not reply to MEE's request for comment but in his motion to have the case dismissed, he described his brother's decision to adopt the child as "selfless", adding that the child had been saved from "the evils of life under the Taliban”.

It is further alleged that Joshua Mast hired Motley to search for and communicate with the legal guardians.

Motley is said to have known that the Masts had obtained a custody order and their purpose was not to offer medical treatment but to secure custody of the baby. “In coordination with Joshua and Stephanie Mast, however, Motley did not disclose the Masts’ true intentions to the Does [name given to the complainants],” the complaint read. 

Motley did not reply to MEE's request for comment. 

According to the lawsuit, the Masts tried several avenues to have the child transferred into their care when they found out that a next of kin had been located.

On 26 February 2020, the Masts filed a petition against the US government, seeking a temporary restraining order to keep the child in the custody of the American military hospital in Afghanistan where she was staying for treatment. The petitioners in the case remained anonymous, but it was Richard Mast who was the representing attorney.

When this failed, the Masts then took another path - convincing the family to travel to the US to get better medical treatment for the child.

After a year of wrangling with the family, first through Motley and then through the translator Osmani, the Afghan family agreed to bring the little girl to the US in August 2021. 

Battle over custody

Concurrent with the discussion between the Mast's representatives and the child's legal guardians in Afghanistan, the Masts were simultaneously working on gaining custody of the child in American courts.

They filed a petition in a Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in Virginia where they asserted that the former Afghan government, under deposed President Ashraf Ghani, had intended to issue a waiver "in a matter of days" to waive jurisdiction of the child.

But in an email to the Associated Press (AP), which conducted an investigation into the case, Ghani's former deputy chief of staff, Suhrob Ahmed, said there is "no record of this alleged statement of waiver of Afghan jurisdiction".

Unlike in the US, and similar to other Muslim-majority nations, Afghan law dictates that Muslim orphans cannot be given to the custody of non-Muslims and that the child's family lineage cannot be erased.

Under the country's kafala laws, or guardianship system, Muslims are allowed to take in Muslim orphans and raise them alongside their family, but these adopted children are to keep their family names.

The State Department has only recognised 14 American adoptions from Afghanistan in the past decade, none of them in the past two years, according to the AP.

The Virginia court granted a custody order to the Masts in November 2019, on the basis that the child "remains up to this point in time an orphaned, undocumented, stateless minor".

The order was granted despite Virginia law stipulating that the adoption needed to be "finalised pursuant to the laws of the country from which the child was adopted". 

But the battle to take custody of the child did not stop there, and the child’s family in Afghanistan accuse the Masts of taking part in a years-long deception to steal their child from them.

Obscure details

Not much is known about the military operation on 6 September 2019 that killed the girl's parents and siblings.

According to the filing, which does not reveal the plaintiffs nor the child's name due to the sensitivity of the case, the Afghan family was killed during a joint operation between US military and Afghan forces in a rural part of the country.

According to legal papers filed by the Masts, the US government "sent helicopters full of special operators to capture or kill" a foreign fighter. 

According to the filing, the child’s father detonated a suicide vest while the mother was shot dead by armed forces as they entered the home. Five out of the six children were also killed and their home was completely destroyed.

"US military forces discovered Baby Doe [synonym given to the baby] in the rubble and immediately transported her to a nearby US military hospital for urgent surgical and medical care," the filing reads. 

The Department of Defence did not reply to MEE's request for further details of the operation.

Court documents show the US military informed the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that the child's family was killed and that the ICRC began searching for next of kin. 

On 25 October 2019, the ICRC made contact with the child's uncle, and the paternal uncle requested to be reunited with the child. In January 2020, Donna Welton, the US State Department's assistant chief of mission in Kabul, wrote to the Afghan government, noting that the US government was ready to transfer custody of the infant to family members. This was arranged for 26 February 2020, the same day the Masts filed their petition to stop the transfer.

Lucien Christen, ICRC spokesperson based in Kabul, confirmed to MEE they had helped facilitate the reunification of the child with family members. However, Christen said that she was unable to comment on "any legal or administrative procedures that might have followed this reunification, neither is part of any legal process in Afghanistan or abroad".

"The reunification of the baby with the family members in Afghanistan in 2020 is ICRC’s sole implication in the case you are mentioning," Christen added.

Acting Secretary Welton, now in the bureau of political-military affairs, as well as the US State Department, did not reply to several requests from MEE for comment. 

The ICRC declined to comment on the specifics of the incident. A spokesperson at the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan told MEE that he was unable to assist with details because "we don't have any ground incident on our records for the mentioned date".


James Dwyer, a professor of law at William and Mary College in Virginia, told MEE that there was so much "uncertainty about certain important facts [that] it is difficult to predict the ultimate outcome."

"The Virginia court that conferred legal custody and adoption seems to have acted improperly, so the Afghan couple, who now has quite capable American attorneys helping them, should be able to get those actions overturned IF they are deemed to have standing to challenge them."

"The US is in a difficult position diplomatically. It does not want to appear to condone 'baby stealing' by its military, but it also does not want to be blamed if the girl returns to Afghanistan and suffers some tragedy because of the turmoil and human rights situation there," he said.

"The complexity of the case could cause it to drag on for quite a long time, and at some point, stability for the child can - or at least should - become a decisive consideration."

According to the United Nations, 1,659 people were killed and 3,524 were injured in Afghanistan in the first half of 2021, with the total number of civilians killed and injured having "increased by 47 percent" compared with the first half of 2020.

During that same period, the number of civilians killed by air strikes from pro-government forces also increased by 33 percent.

Stephanie Savell, a senior researcher at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, described the case as "tragic".

"The costs of the US invasion for people in Afghanistan have been enormous and tragic. By every measure I know of, Afghans are worse off now than they were before the US invasion," Stephanie Savell, a senior researcher at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, told MEE.

Savell said that a staggering 97 percent of Afghans are projected to be living in poverty in 2022. 

"Large numbers of Afghans are dying and will continue to die because of disease, malnutrition, and a nonfunctioning healthcare system, all of which have been severely exacerbated by the US-led war," Savell said.

In 2020 alone, the ICRC facilitated four family reunifications in Afghanistan and 1049 worldwide. 

This includes working to reunite unaccompanied minors with their families where appropriate or identifying other long-term solutions in the best interest of each child.

Despite US operations, Somalia, Sahel drive increase in militant violence in Africa, report says

Fri, 10/21/2022 - 18:30
Despite US operations, Somalia, Sahel drive increase in militant violence in Africa, report says
A new report says there has been a 300 percent increase in militant attacks in Africa over the past decade
MEE staff Fri, 10/21/2022 - 19:30
French Prime Minister Jean Castex (R) looks outside a plane flying towards Faya Largeau, Chad, on December 31, 2020, after spending the New Year's Eve with French troops serving in the counter-terrorism 'Barkhane' force deployed in Sahel. Jérémy MAROT / AFP
French Prime Minister Jean Castex (R) looks outside a plane flying towards Faya Largeau, Chad, after spending New Year's Eve with French troops deployed in the Sahel, on 31 December 2020 (AFP/Jeremy Marot)

Violence in the Sahel region of Africa linked to “militant Islamist groups” has quadrupled in the past three years, according to a report from the Pentagon, despite an ongoing US counterterrorism mission in the area.

The September report from the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, the Pentagon’s academic institution focusing on the region, reveals that seven administrative districts in the Sahel are each projected to suffer more than 100 violent events in 2022, a threshold only ever crossed five times before. 

The report comes months into ongoing US efforts to combat militant violence in the region. 

In addition to the situation in the Sahel, years-long operations in Somalia targeting the militant group al-Shabab, namely, have yielded few results.

In May of this year, the US announced it would shift from a policy of need-based attendance in the country to one of “persistent presence”, deploying several hundred troops and taking on an “advise-and-assist position” without directly intervening, according to the Pentagon. 

US Secretary of Defence John Kirby said in a May press conference that the new system would enable US forces to continue “training, advising and equipping partner forces to give them the tools that they need to disrupt, degrade and monitor al-Shabab”.

More violence

But despite persistent military operations, the report says the violence doubled in just the past three years.

The Africa Center says Somalia and the Sahel are driving a rise in militant attacks in Africa, with a 300 percent increase in the past decade, according to the report, which revealed that the two regions are key drivers in the rise of militant violence in Africa. 

In 2021, John T Godfrey, then-acting coordinator for counterterrorism and acting special envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, characterised the US’s partnership with Somalia on counterterrorism efforts as “very strong”. 

But according to the report, roughly 95 percent of the increase is in the western Sahel and Somalia from those "militant Islamist groups", with both the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda affiliated insurgencies at the root of expanded presence in the region.

The violent events in 2022 linked to these groups represent a 21-percent increase from last year, compared to the 18-percent average annual increase on the continent in the past decade. Fatalities linked to these groups have also been on the rise, reaching 14,635 in the past year - a nearly 50 percent increase since 2019.

In Somalia, the report marks an 11-percent increase in “militant Islamist events and fatalies” over the past year. 

“The record 2,221 violent events reported are a 45-percent increase from the 3-year average from 2018-2020,” the report said. 

Somalia's al-Shabaab was linked to 36 percent of all militant group violence recorded in Africa in the past year, according to the report.

Differences across regions

In North Africa, observers report a drop in militant activity and related violence - a trend continuing since 2015.

Such incidents in the region decreased by 23 percent over the past year, according to the report. Further, the report finds that “virtually all 222 violent events and 313 fatalities reported in North Africa” occurred in Egypt and were linked to the Islamic State in the Sinai Province - a 50 percent decline over the past 3 years. 

“There has been progress in the fight against militant Islamist groups in Africa, though,” the report said. “Underscoring the great variance across regions, militant Islamist violence in the Lake Chad Basin and North Africa declined by 33 percent and 23 percent, respectively, over the last year.”

The report also covered a decrease in violence in the Lake Chad Basin and only a moderate increase in militant-related violence in Mozambique, compared to a reported spike between 2018 and 2020.

Meanwhile, French operations in the Sahel region continue. France's Operation Barkhan, launched in 2014 to quell a militant uprising in the region, is ongoing, involving over 5,000 soldiers at its peak.

The country’s withdrawal from Mali earlier this year meant a reorganisation of forces in other Sahel countries, including Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger. Think tanks have branded the withdrawal as inevitable given a history of rifts between Bamako and Paris.

Israel's occupation of West Bank unlawful under international law, UN report finds

Fri, 10/21/2022 - 15:39
Israel's occupation of West Bank unlawful under international law, UN report finds
Occupation of West Bank is designed to ensure permanent Israeli control of the area set aside for future Palestinian state, according to the organisation
MEE staff Fri, 10/21/2022 - 16:39
Israeli security forces stand guard amid protests by Palestinians following a demonstration demanding the opening of roads around Nablus city, on 21 October 2022 (AFP)

The Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is unlawful under international law due to its permanence and the Israeli government’s de-facto annexation policies, according to a new report issued by the United Nations General Assembly.

“By ignoring international law in establishing or facilitating the establishment of settlements, and directly or indirectly transferring Israeli civilians into these settlements, successive Israel governments have set facts on the ground to ensure permanent Israeli control in the West Bank,” Navi Pillay, chair of the commission, said.

The report, released on Thursday by the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, noted “[a] coercive environment intended to force Palestinians to leave their homes and alter the demographic composition of certain areas [in the occupied West Bank.]”

Israeli contradictions

The authors warned that Israel’s actions in the occupied West Bank were in direct contradiction to Israel’s UN vote last week declaring that any unilateral annexation of a state’s territory by another state is a violation of international law.

“Unless universally applied, including to the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, this core principle of the United Nations Charter will become meaningless,” Pillay said.

Israel 'lied' about legal settlement over death of Palestinian-American, says family
Read More »

The report detailed Israeli efforts to drive Palestinians out of the West Bank. According to the authors, Israel has confiscated land for military purposes but then used it for settlement construction. In occupied East Jerusalem, restrictive planning and zoning regimes have obstructed adequate housing, infrastructure and livelihoods for Palestinians, in effect driving them out of the city, 

Tensions in the region are running high, with more than 100 attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank over the last ten days, according to local media.

Over the past week, Israel has shut down the Nablus district, one of the largest in the West Bank, as the army cracks down on a resurgence of armed resistance in the area.

The report noted the "silent harm" and psychological trauma caused by the Israeli occupation. “These debilitating processes have severe short and long-term consequences and must be urgently addressed,” Miloon Kothari, a UN Human Rights Council commissioner, said.

Monday’s report follows one by the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that said Israel’s actions against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank amounted to “persecution”.

Arabic press review: Anger binds Tunisia's protests

Fri, 10/21/2022 - 14:46
Arabic press review: Anger binds Tunisia's protests
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and Hamas start talks, UAE summons Dutch envoy in solidarity with Jordan, and Algeria sentences a journalist to death in absentia
Mohammad Ayesh Fri, 10/21/2022 - 15:46
Protestors throw rocks at security forces in Ettadhamen, a working-class suburb west of the capital Tunis on 14 October 2022 (AFP)

Tunisia protests differ in causes but share the anger 

The causes behind Tunisia's ongoing protests vary but they are similar in their frustration with the country's political, economic, and social challenges, the Arabi21 news website said in a new report. 

The London-based publication assessed the different reasons that have driven the ongoing protest since last week.

Some demonstrations erupted over the death of a 24-year-old man earlier this month from injuries sustained in late August after he fell into a ditch while being chased by police. 

In the southern coastal town of Zarzis, thousands took to the streets demanding answers over the fate of migrants who drowned in a shipwreck last month. 

Other protests were organised against President Kais Saied, demanding political reform as public anger grows over fuel and food shortages. 

'When there is no trust in the state, anger, resentment and hatred build-up'

- Muhammad al-Juwaili, sociology professor 

Muhammad al-Juwaili, a professor of sociology, told Arabi21 the protests don't have the same incentives and each one is a “reaction to a specific event that once it ends, things return to normal".

However, al-Juwaili warned that the “accumulation of anger” could explode if a major event happens that unites protesters.

“When there is no trust in the state, anger, resentment, and hatred build up," he said. 

Sabreen Jelassi, also a sociology expert, said he forecasts more protests that will focus on price hikes and poor economic conditions. 

Those, Jelassi said, will be hard to quell. 

“The country will witness a new revolution similar to the 2010 revolution, as the country is on the road to eruption.”

Saudi Arabia and Hamas in contact 

The possibility of improved relations between Saudi Arabia and Hamas has increased after Saudi authorities released the former representative of the Palestinian movement, Mohammed al-Khudari, on 19 October 2022.

Khudari, 84, was released along with his son Hani al-Khudari, and deported to Jordan, after more than three years in detention.

Saudi Arabia arrested 68 Palestinians and Jordanians in 2019 as the kingdom's relations with Israel warmed. 

Saudi Arabia releases former Hamas representative from prison
Read More »

They were accused of having links to an unidentified "terrorist organisation" and were tried in 2020 in mass trials. In 2021 they were handed prison sentences ranging from six months to 22 years. 

The trials have been marred by claims of abuse. 

The Alkhaleejonline website quoted sources as saying that "there are unannounced talks to end the dispute" between Saudi Arabia and Hamas, whose ties began to falter in 2007 after infighting between Hamas and its rival, Fatah, which was criticised by Riyadh.

In a statement published on the official Hamas website, Hamas political bureau member Izzat al-Rashq, who said he had spoken to Khudari on the plane that was taking him to Amman, commended Saudi Arabia's decision to free Khudari, stating: "We hope this step will help open a new page and lead to the release of the remaining detainees.”  

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem also described Khudari's release as a step in the right direction.

"The Hamas movement welcomes this step and hopes that it will be followed by the step of releasing the remaining detainees of the movement's supporters in Saudi Arabia," said Qassem, in a statement to Alkhaleejonline.

"Hamas has no problem in developing and strengthening its relationship with any country in the region, and we hope that al-Khudari's release will be a step in this direction," Qassem added.

Qassem also revealed that "there is communication between the movement and the Saudi authorities at certain levels”.

UAE summons Dutch envoy in solidarity with Jordan

The United Arab Emirates' ministry of foreign affairs has summoned the Dutch ambassador over what it described as interference by his country's ambassador to Jordan in the kingdom's internal affairs, according to the state news agency WAM.

Jordan's ministry of foreign affairs claimed that the Dutch ambassador had “interfered” in the application for a license to establish a local radio station that is reportedly still under legal consideration, despite the applicant being neither Dutch nor Jordanian.

Jordan said that "the request is processed according to laws and regulations and with absolute transparency, and it is incomprehensible that an ambassador representing a friendly country interferes in a case governed by laws and regulations".

The UAE ministry of foreign affairs said it affirmed "the UAE's solidarity with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and expressed its strong protest against the irresponsible statements breaching diplomatic norms that were made by the Dutch ambassador on 19 October 2022, which are considered a blatant interference in the internal affairs of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan”.

Algeria sentences journalist to death in absentia

A criminal court in Algiers has issued a death penalty in absentia against journalist Abdo Sammar, a director of the French investigative website Mediapart, according to the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper.

Algeria: More than 30 years after its creation, the RCD is fighting for its survival
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Sammar, who is currently a refugee in France, was sentenced regarding charges of espionage and the leaking of confidential information relating to the Algerian oil company Sonatrach. 

According to judicial files, Sammar was sentenced to the death penalty after it was proven that he had published, on his website, information classified as confidential related to the strategy for developing Algeria's hydrocarbon sector.

Owais Lamin, the former head of Sonatrach deals committee, who was charged with leaking the information to Sammar, received a 10-year jail sentence.

Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour, Sonatrach's former CEO, who was also allegedly in contact with Sammar, is currently detained in Algeria after being deported from the United Arab Emirates last year after Algeria issued an international warrant for his arrest on corruption charges.

Commenting on the case via a video published on the internet, Sammar denied ever speaking to Lamin, but admitted obtaining information from sources in Sonatrach via email.

Sammar, who has been residing in France for the past three years after obtaining asylum there, has been prosecuted in Algeria over several cases related to leaking information and for communicating with foreign parties.

Anger binds Tunisia's protests: Arabic press review

'Mexico of the Middle East': Can Jordan become a nearshoring hub?

Fri, 10/21/2022 - 13:27
'Mexico of the Middle East': Can Jordan become a nearshoring hub?
Some are hopeful Jordan can exploit raising energy costs in Europe and US-China tensions to address its sky-high unemployment
Sean Mathews Fri, 10/21/2022 - 14:27
Workers at the electric panel assembly line of Petra Engineering Industries in al-Mwaqqar, Jordan, on 20 October 2022.
Workers at the electric panel assembly line of Petra Engineering Industries in al-Mwaqqar, Jordan, on 20 October 2022 (MEE/Sean Mathews)

A dusty 40-minute drive southeast of Amman brings you to a patch of desert where a sprawling complex of blue buildings sit. Inside, robots gyrate as they weld together steel frames and "fibre lasers" cut designs into sheet metal.

“We must be innovative. We are working in a digital economy,” Ismail, who is programming a computerised cable punching machine, told Middle East Eye. “It’s one of the most sophisticated in the world,” he nodded at the equipment, “and it is here in Jordan.”

The factory on the outskirts of Jordan’s capital belongs to Petra Engineering Industries, a manufacturer of customised heating and cooling, or HVAC systems.

Outside the production area, containers are filled with products ready to be sent to the port of Aqaba and shipped across the globe - 70 percent of Petra’s HVAC units are exported to the US. The company counts Nvidia, Tesla and Google among its clients.

“We have a niche,” Firas Abu Wishah, a company board member whose family owns Petra, told MEE on a recent tour of the factory in al-Mwaqqar, Jordan. “Our engineering is the secret sauce. Everything is customised. We are building the bespoke Brioni of HVAC units.”

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Petra is heralded as a Jordanian success story, one the kingdom hopes to replicate.

Petra Engineering Industries
Petra Engineering Industries exports 70 percent of its products to the US, 20 October 2022 (MEE/Sean Mathews)

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At 17.4 percent of GDP, manufacturing is one of Jordan’s largest sectors, employing about 217,000 people in a country of 10 million. Jordan hopes to double that number in the next ten years, as it looks to fix its ailing economy.

“Manufacturing is an unlikely story for Jordan. It’s a sector that needs to be better organised. But it can go a long way in addressing Jordan’s biggest challenge - unemployment,” Merissa Khurma, the Middle East programme director at the Wilson Center, told MEE.

//--> //--> //--> //-->

'No work'

The challenge for the small nation squeezed between Iraq, Syria, Israel, the occupied West Bank and Saudi Arabia is staggering. Jordan was already grappling with neighbouring wars and the weight of more than 1.3 million Syrian refugees when the pandemic slammed its tourism-dependent economy.

Since 2019, total unemployment has ticked up from 19 percent to 23 percent. A relatively strong growth rate of 2.2 percent last year did little to dent that number, which stands at 50 percent for the Hashemite Kingdom’s youth. Meanwhile, prices are rising and young people are dejected.

Twenty-seven-year-old Nabil* and 25-year-old Mohammad* spoke to MEE outside a falafel shop near Amman’s downtown. “There is no work here in Jordan. The government just puts out plans. Nothing happens,” Nabil said.

Both men have mechanical engineering degrees and speak fluent English but cannot find jobs.

The abundance of engineers in Jordan, one of the highest per capita rates in the world, underscores many of the paradoxes at play in Jordan’s economy, and specifically its manufacturing industry.

'Our FTA with the US is an untapped goldmine'

- Firas Abu Wishah, Petra Engineering Industries

On paper, Jordan should be competitive. It is stable and positioned close to trade routes like the Suez Canal. Besides having an educated workforce, the kingdom has low labour costs relative to the West and more Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) than any other Arab country. Those include the EU, Canada and US. It is an ideal candidate for "nearshoring" - where businesses move operations to the closest country with a qualified workforce and lower costs.

Jordan has tried to target manufacturing. The southern port city of Aqaba is home to a special economic zone with a five percent corporate tax rate, duty-free import on goods used in production, and tax exemptions on property and land. Yet Aqaba has long been overshadowed by free zones in neighbouring places like the UAE.

“The tax and regulatory regime in Aqaba is internationally competitive. It’s not the rules,” Sheldon Fink, a longtime Jordanian investor and previous CEO of the Aqaba Industrial Estate, told MEE. “Jordan has a structural problem.”

“The real question is does Jordan encourage the development of an entrepreneurial class? And the answer is ‘No’,” Fink said. “The Jordanian government sees attracting investment as its function and excludes the private sector. The government is not opposed to people making money, but the economy is run from the top down.”


Jordan has historically been sustained by a vast patronage network between the government and tribes. Public payrolls and pensions comprised nearly 65 percent of the government’s budget in 2021. Jordanians have generally looked to the state for work.

But with the government now cash-strapped, that has begun to change. In the garment industry where South Asian ex-pat workers typically make up the workforce, today Jordanians - mostly women - comprise about 30 percent of employees.

Jordan’s garment industry has been one of the main beneficiaries of the kingdom’s 20-year-old FTA with the US. Last year, Garments accounted for 66 percent of exports to the US, more than any other sector, according to the Amman Chamber of Industry. 

But to critics, the garment industry is an example of how Jordan has failed to utilise its trade agreements and diversify its economy, specifically manufacturing.

'The infrastructure is quite meaningful to support sophisticated manufacturing [in Jordan]'

- Mazen Darwazah, Hikma executive vice chairman 

Salaries for garment workers start at about 250 Jordanian dinars ($353) a month for a 48-hour workweek. The value-add from Jordan’s garment industry is well below that of other regional states like Turkey and Tunisia.

“In principle, the FTAs are good for Jordan, but the government has not facilitated trade and manufacturing the way it should,” Yusuf Mansur, a former minister of state for economic affairs, and now development consultant, told MEE.

Raghad AlKhojha, CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce in Jordan, says the kingdom’s FTA with the US has been underutilised in part by cultural barriers. “Jordanian companies have been intimidated by the US, while the US is a big market with limited knowledge of Jordan. When I say I'm from Jordan, Americans reply 'Georgia'."

Jordanian manufacturers had focused on nearby markets in Syria and Iraq and wars in those countries hit the industry hard.

Firas Abu Wishah
Firas Abu Wishah at his family's Petra Engineering Industries factory outside of Amman, on 20 October 2022 (MEE/Sean Mathews)

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Abu Wishah, from Petra Engineering, said one lesson his family learned early on was to think global. The company almost collapsed when Iraq, one of its biggest markets, invaded another, Kuwait, in the first Gulf War.

“Jordanian companies need to aggressively go after sophisticated markets. Our FTA with the US is an untapped goldmine,” he said.

UK-listed pharmaceutical giant Hikma is planning to expand manufacturing in Jordan with an eye towards increasing exports to the US and EU.

The Jordanian-founded company alone accounts for about five percent of Jordan’s total national exports and nearly 75 percent of its pharmaceutical exports.

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Mazen Darwazah, the executive vice chairman of Hikma, told MEE that Jordan has competitive advantages in both cost and skillset.

“For a dollar I pay in the US, my costs come down to 75 or 80 cents in Europe. If you're talking about Jordan, it’s at 55-60 cents,” Darwazah told MEE in an interview at Hikma’s new Mena headquarters in Amman.

Mazen says Jordan also has the human capital to support industry, which is important for the pharmaceutical industry where manufacturing is highly automated.

Along with their Lebanese neighbours, Jordanian tech workers and scientists have historically filled the ranks of white-collar professionals in the wealthier Gulf region.

“The infrastructure is quite meaningful to support sophisticated manufacturing here,” Darwazah said. “We have more back offices now in Jordan for tax consolidation, intellectual property and marketing, along with growing R&D.”


Darwazah and Abu Wishah say that Jordan has been wrongly associated with conflicts in neighbouring states for too long, deterring foreign investors who could look to Jordan as a nearshoring hub.

“Jordan has a branding issue,” said Nael Husami, CEO of the Amman Chamber of Industry. 

'In Europe... it would take three years to do what you can do in Jordan in 6 months'

- Nael Husami, Amman Chamber of Industry

But many businesspeople say that is far from the whole story. Those who spoke with MEE on condition of anonymity complained about daunting bureaucracy, corruption and an uncertain regulatory environment.

“It’s a global economy, all you need is one bad story to scare off investors. Why would someone come to Jordan when they can go to Saudi or the UAE,” said a Jordanian businessman who previously worked in the royal court and asked to remain anonymous.

Husami pushed back against that narrative. “If you want to build a new factory, compare Jordan to Europe,” he said. “In Europe, with the licensing requirements and red tape, it would take three years to do what you can do in Jordan in six months.”

Energy prices in Europe have also more than doubled since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, China’s zero Covid policy and tensions with the US have also sent a chill through its businesses environment.

With the rollout of its economic vision plan, Jordan’s government has been pitching itself to the likes of Nike and Rivian as a nearshoring hub. On a smaller scale, AlKhojha, from the chamber of commerce, has already seen interest at trade shows in the US, stemming from China tensions.

Petra Engineering Industries
Workers operate a computerized cable punching machine at Petra Engineering Industries, on 20 October 2022 (MEE/Sean Mathews)

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“Today, mom-and-pop shops in the US would rather deal with a Jordanian company than a Chinese company. Lower wages and the FTA component give Jordan a competitive edge.”

That is music to Abu Wishah’s ears. “I see my country with the potential to become the next near-shoring hub. I want Jordan to be the Mexico of the Middle East with quality, niche manufacturing.”

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But competition is running hot.

Flush with petrodollars, Jordan’s larger and richer neighbour Saudi Arabia is pushing ahead with plans to diversify its economy. With lower energy costs and cheaper financing, it aims to triple industrial output and increase the value of exports to about $149bn by 2030.

Fink, former CEO of the Aqaba Industrial Estate, told MEE that Jordan needs to position itself where it is competitive, such as in industries that are not energy or water intensive. Jordan is one of the most water-scarce countries in the world.

Despite the challenges, Abu Wishah is optimistic about Jordan's nearshoring potential as he prepares deliveries for New York, Massachusetts and California from his plant in al-Mwaqqar.

“It's easier for me as a Jordanian company to sell my product in the US than in the Middle East.”

Amman, Jordan

Syria: Assad supporters wary of Hamas reconciliation

Fri, 10/21/2022 - 13:10
Syria: Assad supporters wary of Hamas reconciliation
Deal between Damascus and the Palestinian group met with anger in pro-government circles, as the group departs from its previous support for the anti-Assad uprising
Danny Makki Fri, 10/21/2022 - 14:10
Hamas's chief representative in Lebanon Osama Hamdan (L), Hamas Arab relations chief Khalil al-Hayya (C), and PFLP-GC chief Talal Naji, arrive for a press conference in Damascus on 19 October 2022 (AFP)

A jubilant Khalil al-Hayyeh could not conceal his smile as he stood on the steps of the presidential palace in Damascus on Wednesday before announcing reconciliation with the Syrian government.

Al-Hayyeh, Hamas’ chief of Arab relations, was a central figure in the much anticipated, decade-long, rapprochment efforts between the Palestinian group and the government of President Bashar al-Assad. 

'For the Syrians, Hamas left them, even abandoned and betrayed them at their most sensitive and crucial time. It's easy to forgive... but they will never forget'

- Damascus-based Palestinian political figure

Hamas, which governs the besieged Gaza Strip, was one of Syria's closest allies, with headquarters in the Syrian capital, and its leaders often found refuge in the country due to its shared position on the Palestinian struggle.

In 2012, however, Hamas left Syria after backing the street protests against the Assad government, the crackdown against which spiralled into the country's civil war. The group then moved its headquarters to Doha.

While many see the re-alignment of the two previous allies as a sign the region could be heading in a new direction, the reconciliation itself doesn’t come without suspicion and mistrust based on historical differences. 

This is especially true within loyalist pro-government sectors who view Hamas with disdain following the group’s decision to leave Syria and side with the opposition.  

Conspicuously, Hamas has departed from its initial policy that hailed the Arab revolts that toppled governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. 

When the Arab Spring came to Syria, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal - whose absence was reportedly a Syrian demand for the reconciliation efforts - declared a break of relations with the Assads and quickly left the country.

Syrian media were quick to attack Hamas’s decision to leave in January 2012, describing it as “shifting the gun from the shoulder of resistance (against Israel) to the shoulder of compromise”.

Deep mistrust 

Despite the political benefits of Assad’s realigning with Hamas - which include potentially improved relations with Hamas’s allies Qatar and Turkey - there is still considerable scepticism within loyalist circles in Syria towards the Palestinian group. 

While many feel that the Palestinian faction, which was previously vocal in support of the armed opposition in Syria, can genuinely mend ties with Damascus, initial reaction to the reconciliation has been muted, if not hostile, in pro-Assad circles.  

Hamas restores ties with Syria as leaders meet with Bashar al-Assad
Read More »

Hamas was accused of supporting anti-government militant groups in the Yarmouk camp on the outskirts of Damascus during the war. 

Syrian MP Nabil Saleh was critical of the deal. “Yes, we are bringing Hamas back to our struggle after the past years, they have bitten us, poisoned our bodies, and killed many of us, Syrians and Palestinians,” he wrote on Facebook.

One Damascus-based Palestinian political figure speaking on condition of anonymity told Middle East Eye that Hamas’ return is just the start, but that the Syrian side was still wary. 

“For the Syrians, Hamas left them, even abandoned and betrayed them at their most sensitive and crucial time [2012]. It's easy to forgive because it's politics, but they will never forget. It will take a long time to re-establish trust.”

Meanwhile, blogger Firas Khalifa wrote on Facebook that “Hamas are not welcome in Damascus.”

“Their return is serving strategies far from the interests of the Syrian people. This determination on political Islamisation reflects dangerous trends that will burn the region, first and foremost Iran; the signs began in the streets of Tehran.” 

Likewise, Assad supporter Fatimeh Sleiman lambasted the deal. “Thank you [Hamas] for killing our youth, blaming us, and blaspheming us," she wrote on Facebook. "The families of the fallen and their children say thank you from the heart. We don't dismiss them with politics, but understand that the blood of our youth is cheap.” 

An outcome of the Abraham Accords?

Al-Hayyeh on Wednesday was joined by top Hamas figure, Osama Hamdan, and several officials representing different Palestinian factions such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command’s [PFLP-GC] Talal Naji who were received by Assad.

According to al-Hayyeh, the Syrian president was “keen on Syria’s support to the Palestinian resistance”.

'There was a choice, and US and world leaders chose wrongly by pushing Palestinians away. The result is Hamas-Assad reconciliation'

- Alexander Langlois, analyst 

"This is a glorious and important day, in which we come back to our dear Syria to resume joint work," he told reporters. “God willing, we will turn the old page and look for the future.” 

He also condemned “Zionist or American aggression on Syria.” The Arab country has been a target of hundreds of Israeli air strikes in recent years, while US forces occupy territory in the northeast of the country. 

Maher al-Taher, the official in charge of international relations in the PFLP (a separate, rival Palestinian political group to PFLP-GC), announced that the front had received an invitation to participate.

“Syria has always been with the resistance and therefore receives the resistance factions,” al-Taher said. 

Analyst Alexander Langlois told MEE that part of the reason for Hamas’ decision is the region’s political situation regarding the Palestinian cause, especially following normalisation agreements between Israel and several Arab states.

“It's obvious the Abraham Accords are pushing Palestinian resistance further into the hands of Iran and violence. There was a choice, and US and world leaders chose wrongly by pushing Palestinians away. The result is Hamas-Assad reconciliation.”

Tour de France: A new arena for Israeli normalisation? 
Read More »

A Gaza-based analyst has told MEE that Hamas had two options following the accords, "either to remain alone in light of Arab-Israeli normalisation and the return of relations between Turkey and Israel, or to return to the alliance between Iran, Syria and Hezbollah."

Middle East Eye has previously cited a Hamas source as saying that the decision to restore ties with Syria was approved by all but one member of the group's general political bureau.

Meanwhile, Palestinians in Gaza, including Hamas supporters, opposed the detente, denouncing it as "a moral sin" and "painful".

Hamas maintains close relations with Iran, the main ally of Syria, which provides it with money, weapons and other logistical support. Hamas also still maintains good relations with Hezbollah, Syria's main ally in Lebanon.

The role of Iran and Hezbollah was crucial in brokering the deal. A leading source in Hamas previously told a MEE correspondent in Gaza that Iran and Hezbollah had made strenuous efforts to restore relations between Hamas and Syria over the past years.

The Iranian government’s official newspaper celebrated the reconciliation this week with the front-page headline: “All the resistance groups came together.” 

Meanwhile, pro-Hezbollah outlet al-Mayadeen admitted that the Lebanese group had a significant role in the reconciliation. 


Cop27: Greta Thunberg backs Egypt political prisoners ahead of climate summit

Fri, 10/21/2022 - 12:24
Cop27: Greta Thunberg backs Egypt political prisoners ahead of climate summit
UN annual conference on climate change is set to be hosted in Egypt next month amid tight restrictions on assembly and free speech
MEE staff Fri, 10/21/2022 - 13:24
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg attends a 'Fridays for Future' movement protest in Stockholm, Sweden, 13 October 2022 (AFP)

Environmental activist Greta Thunberg has joined nearly 200 organisations and individuals in calling on Egyptian authorities to release journalists and political prisoners in the country ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (Cop27) next month.

Cop27 will be hosted in Egypt's resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh from 7 to 18 November amid tight restrictions on peaceful assembly and free speech.

'We stand in solidarity with prisoners of conscience in Egypt'

- Greta Thunberg

On Thursday, Thunberg tweeted a petition which bore the signature of hundreds of human rights groups and individuals who expressed dismay over Egypt hosting a UN summit, while thousands of Egyptian political prisoners remain locked in dire conditions.

"We stand in solidarity with prisoners of conscience in Egypt," she tweeted.

The petitioners said that they: "Emphasise that effective climate action is not possible without open civic space.

"As host of Cop27, Egypt risks compromising the success of the summit if it does not urgently address ongoing arbitrary restrictions on civil society.

"Prisoners are held in detention conditions that violate the absolute prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment, and since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power hundreds have died in custody amid reports of denial of healthcare and other abuse," they added.

Human rights activists stressed that tackling climate change goes hand-in-hand with addressing social and economic inequality, corruption and impunity, and ecological destruction.

"We stress the importance of the right to freedom of expression and independent reporting to foster efforts to address the climate crisis," they added, calling on Egyptian authorities to release jailed human rights defenders and journalists and end the blocking of websites of independent media and civil society groups.

"We note that, under the current government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, thousands continue to be arbitrarily detained without a legal basis, following grossly unfair trials, or solely for peacefully exercising their human rights."


Thunberg's call comes on the same day as the European Parliament demanded that respect for "criteria relating to human rights" be taken into account in the choice of host countries for future Cops.

"Egypt (...) is using the Cop27 to restore its image and hide its catastrophic record on human rights", said French environmentalist MEP Mounir Satouri, one of the elected officials behind an amendment to a bill concerning Cop27, which MEPs approved on Thursday.

COP27: Egypt creating climate of fear for environmentalists ahead of conference
Read More »

Satouri said that the issue of respecting human rights should be raised when the United Arab Emirates hosts Cop28 next year.

On Tuesday, Egyptian-British activist Alaa Abdel Fattah completed 200 days on hunger strike in an Egyptian jail, with no end in sight to his ordeal.

Abdel Fattah, an activist who called for peaceful assembly and free speech, was an icon of the 2011 Egyptian revolution and has spent eight out of the past 10 years in jail on various charges.

Human rights activists said that the Egyptian authorities must take meaningful steps to address the human rights crisis, including by lifting restrictions on access to civic space and ending their crackdown on peaceful dissent.

They noted that Egypt remains one of the world's top executioners, executing 107 in 2020 and 83 people in 2021 while sentencing at least 356 Egyptians to death in 2021.