CAIRO, June 18 -- Egypt's former President Mohamed Morsi was buried on Tuesday in eastern Cairo, his son said, a day after he collapsed in court and died shortly after.
Morsi was buried early in the morning alongside other senior figures of the Muslim Brotherhood, his son, Ahmed Morsi, said on his Facebook page. The burial was attended by members of the family in Cairo's Madinat Nasr after authorities refused to grant permission for a burial in Morsi's home province of Sharqiya in the Nile Delta, Ahmed Morsi said. "We washed his noble body at Tora prison hospital, read prayers for him at the prison hospital ... and the burial was at the Muslim Brotherhood spiritual guides," Ahmed wrote. Morsi's lawyer, Abdel Moneim Abdel Maksoud, confirmed the burial took place early on Tuesday.
Morsi, who was a leading figure in the Brotherhood, became Egypt's first democratically elected president in 2012, one year after the Arab Spring uprising saw the end of President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule. He was deposed in July 2013 following mass protests and a military coup led by Egypt's current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, after which he was immediately arrested. He had been in detention ever since. The Brotherhood, which has since been outlawed, said Morsi's death was a "full-fledged murder" and called on Egyptians to gather for a mass funeral. In a statement on its website, the Brotherhood also called for crowds to gather outside Egyptian embassies around the world.
WASHINGTON, June 18 -- The United States is sending 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East after last week's attacks on the two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, US Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said in a statement on Monday.
"In response to a request from the US Central Command (CENTCOM) for additional forces, and with the advice of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in consultation with the White House, I have authorized approximately 1,000 additional troops for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East," Shanahan said. "The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region," he added. "The United States does not seek conflict with Iran. The action today is being taken to ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and to protect our national interests," he noted. "We will continue to monitor the situation dilligently and make adjustments to force levels as necessary given intelligence reporting and credible threats," Shanahan concluded.
On June 13, two tankers caught fire in the Gulf of Oman after an attack. The crews, with Russian nationals among their members, were evacuated by the Iranian rescue services and taken to the port of Jask. US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said that Iran is responsible for the attacks. Tehran has denied any involvement in the incident. The Kokuka Courageous tanker, registered in Panama and owned by a Japanese transport company, was carrying methanol from Saudi Arabia to Singapore. The Marshall Islands-flagged Front Altair vessel, owned by Norway's Frontline, was sailing from the United Arab Emirates to Taiwan with petrochemical feedstock.
TOKYO, June 14 -- The Japanese operator of a tanker attacked near the Strait of Hormuz suggested Friday the vessel was hit by an incoming projectile, not by torpedo.
Some crew members of the Kokuka Courageous, which was attacked twice in the major shipping route Thursday, have said they "witnessed a flying object" at the moment of the second attack, said Yutaka Katada, president of the Tokyo-based operator Kokuka Sangyo Co., at a press conference. Katada said it is unlikely that the tanker was attacked "because the attacker thought it was a Japanese vessel," saying the ship was flying the national flag of Panama while sailing. The Kokuka Courageous was carrying 25,000 tons of methanol from Saudi Arabia to Singapore when it was attacked in the Gulf of Oman, near the Fujairah port of the United Arab Emirates, according to the company.
All 21 Filipino crew members of the ship escaped in life rafts and were rescued by a U.S. Navy vessel, but they have returned to the ship and restored the reserve power system. One of the crew was slightly injured but is improving, Katada said. The tanker, currently being towed to Khor Fakkan in the eastern part of the UAE, faces no danger of sinking or losing its freight or fuel, according to the company. The tanker had become unable to move on its own as its engine room became inoperable due to being filled with carbon dioxide, which crew members injected to prevent a fire before retreating, Katada said, adding the crew have already started discharging CO2. Katada said the company will "continue to operate" its vessels around the Persian Gulf "unless the sea route is blocked."
WASHINGTON, June 14 -- American officials released images they said show that Iran was involved in an attack on an oil tanker near the entrance to the Persian Gulf on Thursday (June 13), one of a pair of incidents that have raised tensions between the United States and Iran over the past day.
An Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps patrol boat "was observed and recorded removing the unexploded limpet mine from the Kokuka Courageous", one of two tankers attacked on Thursday, according to Navy Captain Bill Urban of the US Central Command. That was after another mine had already detonated, damaging the ship, the US said. The video and photographs showing a boat alongside the hull of a larger vessel with a hole in its side were released by the US Central Command along with a timeline of the episode. It was the first evidence publicly put forward by the US to support its claim - announced earlier on Thursday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo - that Iran was behind the attacks. Iranian officials have rejected the accusation.
"Both vessels were in international waters in the Gulf of Oman approximately 10 nautical miles apart at the time of the distress calls," Capt Urban said in a statement, adding that the crew of the Courageous was rescued by a Dutch tug and later taken aboard the USS Bainbridge. He said that the crew of the second tanker, the Front Altair, were put aboard a Revolutionary Guard Corp vessel. Iran said on Friday (June 14) it was responsible for maintaining the security of the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf, state radio reported, adding that blaming it for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman was alarming. “We are in charge of maintaining security of the Strait and we rescued the crew of those attacked tankers in the shortest possible time ... US Secretary of State (Mike) Pompeo’s accusations towards Iran is alarming,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said. Kokuka Sangyo, the Japanese operator of the Courageous, said it was attacked twice on Thursday, in incidents that were three hours apart, forcing the crew to evacuate. The tanker was carrying 25,000 tonnes of methanol from Saudi Arabia to Asia. Japanese public broadcaster NHK, citing Kokuka Sangyo's chief executive officer, said the ship was hit by a shell. The manager of the Norwegian-owned Front Altair said it was sailing in international waters when it was damaged by an explosion, and that the episode was being treated as a "hostile attack". The ship had loaded a cargo of naphtha in Abu Dhabi and was bound for Taiwan, a company official said.
DEN HAAG, June 11 -- Two Dutch-Belgian orphans of Islamic State fighters were amongst a group of fourteen others to have been flown into Europe from Syria on Monday, according to reports.
A French military airplane carrying two Dutch-Belgian children and twelve French orphans landed in a Paris airport on Monday. The orphans lived in the Ain Issa refugee camp in Syria, close to the country’s Turkish border, and were said to be in a “particularly vulnerable” situation. The two orphans are thought to be the children of a late Antillean-Dutch woman and a now-deceased Belgian Islamic State (IS) fighter. Dutch authorities were present when the airplane landed in Paris, and will reportedly entrust both children to a Dutch guardian. The French orphans will be handed over to social security services in the country. Around 250 children are thought to be still living in refugee camps and other locations across Syria, according to Reuters. In May, a group of academics signed an open letter calling for Belgium to honour a 2017 commitment to repatriate the orphans of all jihadist fighters. That year, a court ruling had obliged Belgium to repatriate all orphans under the age of ten. With the recent repatriations, France has now brought back 17 IS orphans from Syria.
RIYADH, June 7 -- Days after Saudi Arabia announced it would allow women to drive in September 2017, blogger and activist Eman al-Nafjan wrote an uplifting column on CNN.
Praising the tenacity of women's rights activists such as Loujain al-Hathloul, she said: "Other issues seem conquerable. The biggest issue at the moment is the guardianship system." Eight months later, al-Nafjan, Loujain al-Hathloul, and other women's rights activists and male allies were arrested. They became victims of a widespread online and offline smear campaign, accusing them of trying to destabilise the country and incite public opinion. Since their arrest, there have been allegations of prisoners being tortured - with reports of lashings and electric shocks while in custody. Three Saudi Muslim scholars who are linked to the Sahwa, or the Awakening movement, who are reportedly on death row and could be executed in days, are also believed to have suffered in prison. Salman al-Awdah was hospitalised as a result of solitary confinement, according to Amnesty International, Awad al-Qarni health has also deteriorated, according to activists, while Ali al-Omari has reportedly suffered burns and injuries all over his body as a result of electric shocks during solitary confinement for more than a year.
Adam Coogle, Saudi Arabia researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said: "You have serious allegations of torture by investigators. This is something you will frequently hear from other human rights activists as well." Among these prisons are al-Haer in Riyadh, Dhahban near Jeddah, and Dammam in the Eastern Province. Women's rights defenders, protesters from the predominantly Shia Muslim minority Eastern Province, and other dissidents often stand trial at the Specialised Criminal Court,the kingdom's counter terrorism court. "Most human rights activists and dissidents are in [both] Mabahith-run prisons or general prisons," Yahya Assiri, a Saudi activist who founded the human rights organisation Al Qst said. While general prisons are run by the Ministry of Interior, maximum security prisons are headed by the police agency of the Presidency of the State Security, commonly known as the Mabahith. Conditions in the general prisons are abysmal and worse than in the maximum security facilities, said Assiri, adding that corporal punishment is common while corruption has fuelled an illicit drug smuggling trade. "These facilities are far more outdated than maximum security prisons, and cells are often overcrowded," he said. In its 2018 annual report, Al Qst claimed that authorities forced prisoners to sleep in the toilets.
Essam Koshak, an activist and computer engineer was arrested in January 2017 for speaking out against the male guardianship system on Twitter, and sentenced to four years in prison followed by a four-year travel ban. Though he was tried in the Specialised Criminal Court, he was held in Mecca General Prison before being transferred to the maximum security al-Haer Prison in Riyadh. Similarly, activist Issa al-Nukheifi was held in pre-trial detention in Mecca General Prison without any charges presented. At the Specialised Criminal Court, he was sentenced to six years in prison followed by a six-year travel ban over Twitter posts criticising the Saudi royal family and government. He is also being held at al-Haer. Though conditions at Mabahith-run facilities are relatively better, Assiri said that overall, prisons built and administered for detainees suspected of terrorism or other extreme security charges are "extraordinarily worse than before". Although several activists have been temporarily released as their trials proceed, it is expected that they could face 20 years in prison, as per Saudi Arabia's counterterrorism law. Saudi Arabia has acceded to the UN Convention Against Torture - with reservations, but reports from human rights organisations and testimonies indicate that systematic torture is widespread with impunity.
DAMASCUS, June 2 -- Syria’s air defenses have destroyed the enemy’s air targets on the southern outskirts of Damascus on Sunday.
The news agency SANA reported that explosions can be heard in this area. According to the agency, the air defenses successfully repelled the enemy targets coming out of the Golan Heights at 2:22. The TV channel Al Arabiya reported, citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, that the attack was carried out against Hezbollah’s base and arms depots.
LONDON, June 1 -- British comedy icon John Cleese’s claim that London is no longer an “English city” has unleashed a flood of reaction on Twitter as Brits latch onto another topic to fight about.
The Fawlty Towers and Monty Python star dredged up previous comments he made about the UK capital losing its sense of Englishness, tweeting that the observation has since been confirmed by virtually all his friends from abroad. “Some years ago I opined that London was not really an English city any more. Since then, virtually all my friends from abroad have confirmed my observation. So there must be some truth in it… I note also that London was the UK city that voted most strongly to remain in the EU.”
David Aaronovitch, a columnist with the Times, sought to give Cleese a brief history and geography lesson: “London has long been a British city, John. Which you might expect, what with it being the capital.” However numerous people supported Cleese’s views: “The texture and fabric of life in London is not quintessentially English. And many ethnic English outside of London all say the same thing,” author Thomas Clements responded. Some noted that Cleese’s observations were a clear-cut case of confirmation bias while others noted the comedian’s comments were supported by the facts on the ground. Pauls Joseph Watson wrote: “Over 41% of London’s population is foreign born. London also has the second highest foreign-born population of any city in the world. London is clearly the least “English” city in England. Cleese is merely stating a reality that anyone who lives in London understands.” Cleese has been vociferous in his support for Brexit. Explaining why he voted Leave, he said: “I don’t want to be ruled by Brussels bureaucrats who want to create a super state.”
BERLIN, May 31 -- A Berlin area branch of the right-wing anti-migrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has faced backlash after posting and then deleting a photoshopped map calling the west and the south of the country a “German Caliphate.
”The graphic, posted by AfD’s Berlin-Lichtenberg Facebook page a day after the European Parliament vote ended, featured the flag of Germany over the country’s eastern states, where AfD won the most support. The five federal states and Berlin were painted blue and titled the Federal Republic of Germany. In contrast, the west and the south of the country were painted green and emblazoned with a black flag featuring the shahadah, or Islamic declaration of faith. The states were branded the “German Caliphate,” while a caption to the post read: “Pictures speak louder than words.” While the account that posted the image removed it within hours of uploading, it still managed to stir some controversy on social media. For some reason, many felt less than enthusiastic to live in the blue “Federal Republic,” preferring the green Islamic state instead. “If I had to live under the label “Federal Republic of Germany” under the AfD, I’d better please take the green caliphate. There is sun and delicious food there!" tweeted Christina Fischer.
"Wenn ich für die Bezeichnung "Bundesrepublik Deutschland" unter der AfD leben müsste, dann nehme ich bitte das grüne Kalifat. Da gibt es Sonne und leckeres Essen!"
— Christina Fischer (@trillian215) May 28, 2019
As a Berliner, I want to be assigned to the German Caliphate. I don’t want to be part of this blue Germany,” Osman Li commented on Facebook. Other took their chance to lambaste the AfD, accusing the party of inciting hatred. “For me both are the same, the AfD and the caliphate. Both are stupid people destroying humanity,” Afshin tweeted. While the SPD party’s parliamentary left group took their chance to quote a disgruntled ex-AfD politician who said that the party is “run by idiots.”
However, some comments also generalized and slammed the eastern German voters, with Diema from Frankfurt asking if they “wanted a wall again” and Peter Paker from Witten wondering “why he wanted the 1989 borders back” – both referring to the Berlin Wall and the past East-West Germany divide. The AfD received 11% of the German vote for the European parliament, putting it in fourth place overall. In two eastern states, the party received more votes than any other party, beating Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the party formerly led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, which tallied the highest numbers country-wide.
Az-Zahra Hussein, his daughter, said in a Facebook post her father will be released "with precautionary measures", and will soon be transferred to a police station from the prison. Gamal Eid, the executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, said under Egyptian law Hussein must be freed within 24 hours. "This is a final court ruling but the problem is that security forces tend to delay releases when they do not like those freed," said Eid, adding in some previous cases the execution of the release order took several months. The journalist has been in custody since 2016 without formal charges, trial or conviction. Hussein was accused of "incitement against state institutions and broadcasting false news with the aim of spreading chaos", allegations he and Al Jazeera Media Network deny. Nasr told Anadolu news agency the Cairo Criminal Court rejected the prosecutors' appeal on Thursday. "This case shows the misuse of pre-trial detention as a form of punishment in Egypt," said Eid. He said there are at least 20,000 people currently in detention without charge in Egypt for political reasons. Hundreds of them have already exceeded the legal two-year pre-trial term, he added. Since the overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, Al Jazeera Media Network has been portrayed as Egypt's national enemy for its coverage of the group. Many of its reporters have been arrested on grounds of spreading lies and supporting "terrorists" - a reference to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organisation.
Hussein's detention was in violation of both Egyptian and international laws, with the former setting 24 months as the maximum period for pre-trial detention. Egyptian authorities have repeatedly renewed his two-year detention. He was arrested on December 20, 2016, by Egyptian authorities upon his arrival in Cairo to visit his family. In February, the United Nations called Hussein's jailing "arbitrary detention", saying the "appropriate remedy would be to release Mr Hussein immediately". In 2013, Egypt also arrested and later imprisoned Al Jazeera's Abdullah Elshamy, Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste on charges of spreading "false news" - cases that were widely condemned by international media outlets and many politicians. All have since been freed. Ibrahim Helal, former editor-in-chief of Al Jazeera Arabic, was sentenced to death in absentia for purportedly endangering national security. Several other colleagues have also been charged in absentia, such as journalists Sue Turton and Dominic Kane.