Developments in Libya and the Middle East

REUTERS/Ismail ZitounyLibyan court revokes law banning Gaddafi glorification

Al Jazeera - Libya's Supreme Court ruled that a law, passed by the National Transitional Council, was unconstitutional. The law criminalizes the glorification of Gaddafi and his ideas, and punishes with a prison sentence anyone who harms the February 17 Revolution. The court's ruling ended the debate between the law's opponents and proponents. Some viewed the law as a restoration of the former regime's tools of governance, while others considered it a rupture with the Gaddafi era.

Egypt's high court dissolves parliament two days before presidential elections

New TV - Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court dissolved parliament, and confirmed the presidential run-off elections will be held on time. the struggle between Egypt's judges and the dissolved parliament seems ongoing, after parliament insulted and defamed the Egyptian judiciary and Judge Ahmed Rifaat, who presided over Mubarak’s case. This led the chairman of the union of judges to respond in kind, as the battle continues between the legislative and judicial powers. The ruling also found the disenfranchisement law invalid, keeping Ahmed Shafiq in the presidential race.

A look at Gaza after five years of Hamas rule and Israeli siege

BBC Arabic - Tuesday marked the 5th anniversary of Hamas’ control of the Gaza Strip following an internal battle with its opponent Fatah, that lasted many months and shaped the beginning of the Palestinian political division. Attempts to remedy this division continue today. It also paved the way for an economic blockade by Israel on Gaza's crossings, the price of which is being paid by Gaza’s residents.

As rhetoric intensifies, the Syrian conflict nears global proxy

Al-Alam - In light of the on-the-ground developments of the Syrian crisis, and as clashes continue between armed groups and government forces while a political solution is still lacking, the positions of European and world capitals have differed on the situation in Syria. In contrast to the UN position expressing concern over the eruption of a civil war in Syria, France's position explicitly urged an escalation of the situation in order to topple the regime. It also threatened to impose harsh sanctions on Syria.


Tunisia arrests dozens of Salafi Islamists rioting over art show

BBC Arabic - Clashes in some areas of the densely populated capital continued until the early morning hours. According to the Interior Ministry, the clashes erupted overnight between security forces and groups affiliated with Salafi forces, and vandals in several neighborhoods of the capital Tunis. Vandalism, burning and looting affected security and judicial institutions, and syndicates. Protesters say the reason is the display of portraits they considered offensive to Islam.


Image: Judge Kamal Bashir Daham, head of Libya's Supreme Court, and members of the court panel meet to approve the constitutional invalidation of a law that will criminalise the glorification of ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi or any of his supporters in Tripoli June 14, 2012. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny


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Deadly Racism In Post-Gaddafi Libya

In the aftermath of the Libyan revolution against Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, many black Sub-Saharan African migrants and dark skinned Libyans continue to be the target of attacks by armed "revolutionaries". While race has long been a dividing line in the predominantly Arab country, "the atrocities attributed to black mercenaries during the uprising against Gaddafi, as well as the allegiance some regions populated by dark-skinned Libyans showed him in the war, have given the race question a new and deadly currency," according Joseph Logan of IOL News.


Human Rights Watch reported that the town of Tawergha, a predominantly black town south of Misurata which used to be home to over 30,000 residents, remains deserted in the weeks following the revolution. Militias from Misurata are "terrorizing the displaced residents…accusing them of having committed atrocities with Gaddafi forces." Katrina Nikolas of the Digital Journal writes, "[The death of Gaddafi] has not satisfied the desire for vengeance amongst still-armed NTC militias."

A rebel points his rifle at a man accused of being a mercenary fighting for Muammar Gaddafi.


One Liberian migrant who is one of 600 Africans camping out at a fishing port in Tripoli said, "If children see us they hold their noses, and revolutionaries sometimes shoot by us. Blacks are Gaddafi, they say. We need to leave." Another migrant said they faced constant assaults including robbery, physical attacks, and rape. 


Human Rights Watch and the UN Human Rights Council have called on the African Union and the NTC to protect the rights of migrants and refugees. Middle East and North Africa Director at HRW Sarah Leah Whitson said, "It's a dangerous time to be dark-skinned in Tripoli. The NTC should stop arresting African migrants and black Libyans unless it has concrete evidence of criminal activity. It should also take immediate steps to protect them from violence and abuse."


Last month, the National Transitional Council denied the allegations, saying "We do not make any distinction among people on grounds of color. And we do not discriminate against our brothers from African countries." He added that any captured mercenaries will receive fair trials and that the NTC will "fully investigate any human rights violations committed by its fighters," but that remains to be seen.


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Tonight on Mosaic: Moroccans reiterate rejection of cosmetic reforms

Morocco: The February 20 Movement renewed its rejection of what it describes as "sham reforms." The movement demands genuine political reforms that transform Morocco's controlled political process to one capable of producing the change demanded by the masses. The movement also renewed its demands for prosecuting corrupt officials and holding fair elections. In addition to the political demands, the movement raised slogans demanding social justice, freedom, and dignity.


Syria: The Syrian opposition is rallying its supporters to participate in a day of anger against Russia, as Moscow continues to support President Bashar al-Assad's regime. Following Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Medvedev stated that it is wrong to place additional pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and force him to end security operations. The Syrian opposition has called on supporters online to protest across Syrian cities and towns and to burn the Russian flag.


Libya: Fifteen people were killed in an attack by Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi's battalions on an oil facility near Ras Lanuf. The Libyan National Transitional Council announced that its fighters fended off the battalions' attack on Bani Walid, one of the final strongholds of Colonel Gaddafi's loyalists. The NTC forces began reinforcing their siege on the city of Sirte, also under Gaddafi's control.


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Tonight on Mosaic: Muslims celebrate Eid ul-Fitr in a new era

Syria: On the first day of the Eid ul-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan, seven people have been killed in the security forces' relentless crackdown on protestors. Six were reportedly killed in Daraa during a massive demonstration at al-Omari Mosque, and one was killed in Homs. Protests also broke out in a number of provinces after Eid prayers, including Damascus, Rif Dimashq, Homs, Hama, Latakia, Idlib, and Aleppo.

Yemen: According to the official Yemeni news agency, President Ali Abdullah Saleh has vowed to honor the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative, and says he is ready to hold immediate elections for a new president. A source close to Saleh said that the president has reached a deal with the opposition which stipulates that elections will be held within three months, as Saleh transfers power to his deputy, Abed-Rabbu Mansur Hadi. This political breakthrough, however, has failed to bring joy to Yemenis on the first day of Eid ul-Fitr. Many Yemenis are concerned with the deteriorating security situation in the country and are living amid harsh conditions.

Libya: Head of Libya's Transitional National Council Mustafa Abdel Jalil has set Saturday as the final deadline for forces loyal to fugitive Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi to lay down arms. Jalil said that negotiations were underway to arrange the peaceful surrender of the areas still held by pro-Gaddafi forces. Such areas include Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte, the district of Bani Walid southeast of Tripoli, and the southern areas of Libya.

Bahrain: A spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has warned that the situation in Bahrain remains "tense and unpredictable" as the Manama regime continues its brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrations. About 124 cases in Bahrain have so far received verdicts, including two death sentences; sixteen of the cases were acquitted completely, while seven others were partially acquitted, according to the UN rights official.


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Tonight on Mosaic: Jordanian police attack protestors demanding reforms

Jordan: Violent confrontations erupted between Jordanian security forces and protestors during a demonstration today. The protest was organized in central Ammam by popular and youth movements, which have named themselves the July 15 Parties. Jordanian police used batons to disperse hundreds of protestors who chanted "the people want to reform the regime." Tomorrow, they will hold a sit in at the prime minister's headquarters.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said that the International Contact Group on Libya will recognize the National Transitional Council as the official representative of the Libyan people. Frattini told reporters that the international recognition for the Council leaves no choice for Muammar Gaddafi but to step down. Gaddafi's supporters took to the streets in Ajalat, west of Tripoli, in their largest demonstration yet to support Gaddafi and reject foreign interference.

Tunisia: Police prevented demonstrators from pitching protest tents at the government square in al-Kashbah and dispersed the protestors using tear gas. The protestors are demanding the dismissal of the interior and justice ministers, the judiciary's independence, and the prosecution of anyone responsible for the killing of protestors during the revolution.

Egypt: Thousands of people gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square for the "Friday of Final Warning." They are demanding that the authorities hasten the transfer of former President Hosni Mubarak to Tora hospital and assign a court to prosecute anyone responsible for killing revolutionaries. They demanded that members of the court be independent from the former judiciary and for the former president to be the court's first defendant.

Syria: Demonstrations were held in a number of cities to mark the "Friday of Freedom for Prisoners." In Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that two people were killed and dozens were injured by security forces' gunfire, while Syrian TV reported that one civilian and two security forces were wounded by gunmen. According to the Syrian opposition's websites, almost 150,000 people protested in Hama, while Syrian TV said the city witnessed a limited gathering of participants demanding that the authorities combat corruption, adding that the rally ended without any security concerns.


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Libyan Rebels Reject Gaddafi's Sons' Diplomacy Offer

(Euronews: 1118 PST, April 4, 2011) Libya's rebel National Transitional Council has rejected a proposal to end the conflict from Colonel Gaddafi's most prominent sons. Salaam and Saif al-Islam reportedly want to be interim leaders if there is a transfer of power and their father steps down. But after talks with Italy, which has now recognised the National Council, there was a very negative reaction.




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