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Al Jazeera English | Mar 20
US President Barack Obama has pledged unwavering support for Israel on his first visit there as US President. He also stressed the need for Middle...
Syria's demonstrators refuse to 'kneel down,' vow to reclaim their dignity [Al Jazeera, Qatar]
Presenter, Male #1
The slogan for this Friday protest, "We won't kneel," reaffirms the meaning of dignity for those rising up in Syria, as the word "dignity" was chosen for the first Friday rally held on March 18. The following report explains the meaning of this slogan and the meaning of dignity and nationality embraced by the Syrian people in the fight against what has become known as "the norms of oppression by the Syrian regime."
Reporter, Male #2
Some chose to bow and kneel for President Bashar, as clearly shown in these images. However, others, who represent the majority of the people across the country, are refusing to kneel. By ordering the army to counter the people, the regime has distorted the high morale of the troops, best known as "the defenders of the homeland front." One of the firm beliefs of the army is to protect the homeland and its citizens, not to defend the regime against its people who are rising up against it. Here is Hama a few days ago, where countless tanks were deployed. Some activists say that more than 300 tanks were deployed in and around the city. The objective was to reoccupy the city and subjugate its citizens, as cited by opposition activists. During the campaign in Hama, nearly 300 Syrians have been killed over a few days, or one tank per death. Despite the crackdown, Syrians who are rising up in the Levant region say, "We won't kneel." Over 2,000 people have been killed, nearly 15,000 arrested, and more than 15,000 have been displaced to neighboring countries. According to opponents of the regime, the decision to grant security agencies broad authority is not governed by the constitution or the law. This brings back to memory the latest incidents of Daraa and highlights the meaning of dignity, which was adopted as a slogan by the first wave of protestors who chanted "death not humiliation." Then, elements of the regime met with leaders of the city. The regime tried to take their dignity away, as security forces pulled off the fingernails of some children who were chanting for freedom and change. This was the final straw, as the residents of Daraa staged massive protests across the city, choosing their first protest as the "Friday of Dignity." A dignity that, when reclaimed, will reaffirm the meaning of national identity. This is an equation that is capable of dismantling the rule of the Assad regime in Syria, as cited by activists. Observers believe that all the names of Friday protests have evolved around the issue of dignity, starting from Daraa to Hama and Deir az-Zour and others in the north and south. Other Friday slogans include pride, martyrs, steadfastness, determination, rage, defiance, and lastly, we won't kneel. All are a proof that the departure of the regime is no longer a question puzzling those who are rising up in Syria. A regime that violated the dignity of people held in its dungeons and its prisons. A regime that hijacked a country and its people, who say they will not retreat from their demand of toppling it.
Bahrain's pro-democracy protesters show no sign of retreat [Al-Alam, Iran]
Presenter, Male # 1
Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society called for mass participation in the "No Retreat" festival on the Friday of Decisiveness as the ministries of health and education continue to fire more of their employees for participating in peaceful protests. Hundreds of public sector employees were dismissed from their positions over their participation in demonstrations.
Reporter, Male # 2
With determination and confidence, these masses continue their daily peaceful marches to confirm their commitment to their demands. In one voice, they are demanding reforms and democracy while condemning the crackdown by the authorities, who have resorted only to the language of force and bullets to face peaceful protests. The impact of these daily marches led to the popular gathering that was held today, on Friday. It was organized by Bahrain's al-Wefaq National Islamic Society. This mass popular demonstration was held under the banner of "Friday of Decisiveness" and the "No Retreat" slogan. Al-Wefaq called on the Bahraini masses to participate en mass and to respond to the call in the area between the northern Sehla and Abu Quwah. In its ongoing public events, during which popular demands are reiterated, al-Wefaq confirmed its main demands are a genuine implementation of a constitutional monarchy, an elected government that represents the people's will, and a parliament with full legislative and regulatory authorities. In addition to the demands of fair constituencies under the principle of one vote for each citizen, they also demanded a fair and independent judiciary and security for all citizens. In response to the continuing popular mobilization, human rights violations by the Saudi-backed Bahraini authorities also proceed.
Guest, Male # 3 (Abdallah el-Mahuzi, Bahraini political activist)
The termination campaign continues on a large scale. It reached government ministries and major companies in Bahrain. Right now, there are nearly 15,000 Bahraini citizens without a livelihood, without a job. This is a catastrophe for Bahrain.
Reporter, Male # 2
Amid the policy of termination adopted by the Ministry of Education for months, it announced the dismissal of additional employees and teachers. The ministry says the number of those dismissed has reached 79, including employees and teachers, for participating in popular protests, despite the government's claim that it demanded the ministry reinstate them. Alongside these measures, the Bahraini Ministry of Health announced its intention to fire 23 of its employees for the same reason. It is estimated that over 230 individuals are facing the threat of similar investigations. In clear and stated double standards, the US and its allies turn a blind eye to Manama's violations against the rights of its Bahraini citizens while they cry over these violations elsewhere.
Ban Ki-moon expresses concern over Libyan civilian casualties [Future TV, Lebanon]
Presenter, Male #1
The Libyan revolutionaries have announced that at dawn, they advanced on three fronts toward the capital Tripoli. They are marching closely toward key coastal cities in western Libya, including Az Zawiyah Az Ziyah and Sarman. Yesterday, the revolutionaries seized control of residential neighborhoods east of the city of Brega. Brega's western areas are still under the control of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi's forces. The Libyan opposition has achieved a political victory, after assuming responsibility for running the affairs of the Libyan embassy in Washington DC. The opposition has officially reopened the embassy. At the international level, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern over recent reports of civilian deaths in the Libyan war, urging all sides to avoid killing innocent people.
Presenter, Female #1
A group of gunmen have attacked a Yemeni army patrol vehicle in the southern city of Taiz, killing one soldier and injuring two others. This comes as clashes erupted between supporters and opponents of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Meanwhile, thousands of pro-and anti-regime protestors gathered in the capital, Sanaa. Hundreds of thousands of anti-regime protestors gathered in the Siteen Square on a Friday dubbed "We are victorious, God willing." They chanted slogans demanding the ouster and trial of all elements of the regime. On the other hand, supporters of the ruling regime gathered in Sabeen Square under the slogan "Friday of national alliance to protect constitutional legitimacy," in support of Saleh and his legitimacy.
US threatens to halt Gaza aid [IBA, Israel]
We open with the ultimatum from the United States to Hamas that Washington will halt humanitarian aid do to Gaza within 24 hours if the government of Ismail Haniyeh fails to retract its insistence on auditing the books of US-financed NGO's operating in the territory. If the radical Islamic group fails to positively respond to the demand, State Department officials are warning that Washington will withhold 100 million dollars in aid it gives the NGO's for healthcare, agriculture, and water infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.
International condemnation over approval of Jerusalem housing construction [IBA, Israel]
International condemnation today continued over the recent approval of the Interior Ministry to build 1,600 new housing units in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo over the 1967 lines. The Palestinian government denounced the plan and demanded that the world's governments pressure Israel into reversing its decision. European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton today expressed regret over the development and said that it not only undermines efforts to resume negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians but it also threatens the two-state solution.
Israeli social protest rallies move to periphery [IBA, Israel]
Turning to the ongoing social protest against the cost of housing, the demonstrations are now moving toward the periphery. Activists are gearing up for tonight's mass protests slated to take place in at least twelve cities. For the first time, the central demonstration will be held in Be'er Sheva, where organizers expect some 50,000 participants to attend. Dozen of busses will transport activists from Tel Aviv, to the area known as the capital of the Negev.
Palestinians inside Israel politicize country's housing protest [BBC Arabic, UK]
Presenter, Female # 1
Palestinians inside Israel constitute one fifth of the population. However, they usually complain of systematic discrimination, notably enforced by the confiscation of their land and demolishment of their homes. These days, Palestinians inside Israel, the Arabs of 1948, are active within local committees to protest their conditions. This, in coordination with demonstrations witnessed across different Israeli cities against housing prices and social conditions. As the general protest is focused on economic and social demands, Arabs say their demands have political and historical roots. Our correspondent Sherine Younes reports from Jerusalem.
Reporter, Female # 2
As the wave of protests initiated by thousands of Israelis demanding lower housing prices continues, Palestinians in Israel found the movement to be an opportunity to highlight their living conditions and their hardships, ongoing since the establishment of Israel. They have also set up protest tents in their towns and villages. And here they are, occupying these tents, meeting and organizing a popular committee to represent them at the high follow-up committee.
Guest, Male # 1 (Awad Abdel Fattah, National Democratic Assembly Secretary-General)
The Palestinians are the original owners of the land but endure a systematic policy of eviction, uprooting, displacement, and daily home demolishment. This is what we're facing and for this reason, this is another cause. So when the Israeli street fights for or demands lower housing prices, we remember where they stand and where we stand.
Reporter, Female # 2
Most issues mentioned here constitute a common denominator for the Palestinians in Israel. Throughout the years, large parts of Arab villages were confiscated and a great number of homes were evacuated or demolished. Development plans that allow citizens to build and expand were curtailed or even eliminated. In addition, entire Arab villages were not recognized, especially in the region of al-Naqab. For example, the city of Jaffa became part of Tel Aviv and in the 1970s two entire neighborhoods were destroyed, leading to a housing crisis. Today, the local popular committee in Jaffa is demanding the provision of houses for Arabs and an end to the policy of evicting people from their homes.
Guest, Male # 2 (Rami Saigh, Yaffa's youth movement)
First of all, the demand to stop the demolishment orders, I mean the eviction orders. There are over 700 eviction notices in Jaffa. This is our first demand. The second demand, which is always present for us, is to provide sufficient housing for Jaffa's residents. Unfortunately, even Israelis in Jaffa were also erased from the Israeli political map in the 1980s.
Reporter, Female # 2
The demands of the Arabs in Israel have still not been clearly included among the demands presented by the organizers of the anti-government protest. However, Arab activists are seriously attempting to gain adequate representation within the negotiating delegation. The special committee could find a settlement that allows an end to the general protest. However, Arabs fear a settlement might not find a solution to the issues they're facing since these issues remain an essential part of the struggle for land and housing between the state and Arabs. From Jaffa, Sherine Younes, BBC.
Israel limits access to al-Asqa Mosque [Press TV, Iran]
Israeli forces have tightened security in and around Jerusalem al-Quds and have banned tens of thousands of worshipers from attending Friday prayers. Israel has denied entry to al-Asqa Mosque to men under the age of 50 and women under the age of 45 as Palestinians perform the second Friday prayer of Islam's holy fasting month of Ramadan. Palestinians have called the restrictions a "collective punishment." They say the restrictions on movement have affected their economy and made travel extremely difficult.
Saudis rally for the release of political prisoners [Press TV, Iran]
Saudi Arabia protestors have taken to the streets in the province of al-Qatif, calling for the release of thousands political prisoners who are held in Saudi jails. The demonstrators also shouted slogans against the ruling regime in the capital Riyadh. The protests took place in the city of al-Awamiyah on Thursday night. Protestors were specifically calling for the release of the cleric Tawfiq al-Ammer. Al-Ammer is known by his followers as the most prominent advocate of civil rights and freedom in the eastern region of the Arab kingdom. He was recently arrested by Saudi authorities several days after he called for reforms during a speech at a local mosque.
UN warns of cholera epidemic spreading in Somalia [Press TV, Iran]
The United Nations has warned of cholera outbreaks across the already famine-stricken Somalia. The agency says more than 180 people have already fallen victim to the disease in the capital Mogadishu so far this year and that half of the victims have been children under the age of two. The UN has warned that the deadly illness could quickly spread to the south as many possible carriers flee the famine that's hit some 12.5 million people in the Horn of Africa. The United Nations has also called for more money, saying lack of funding is hindering the delivery of humanitarian aid. The UN says has only received 48 percent of the requested 2.4 billion dollars for humanitarian aid.
Corruption and poverty threaten Iraq's future [Al Rafedin, Iraq]
Presenter, Male #1
Knowledgeable sources divulged that a high-ranking official in Baghdad province was given a residence worth ten billion Iraqi dinars from an engineering company in exchange for assigning the company two large projects. The sources confirmed that the deal was sealed on July 30 in the Jordanian capital of Amman with the signing of a contract to build a bridge in al-Mada'in District. The engineering company was also assigned a sewage project in Tarmiyah. The sources indicated the estimated value of the first project at 103 billion Iraqi dinars and the second is estimated at 60 billion Iraqi dinars. The current law does not allow assigning two major projects to one company at the same time. In an attempt to halt mounting criticism, the current Ministry of Planning said it has approved a plan to conduct a new survey on the poverty level in Iraq. The survey is set to be completed at the end of 2012. The Food and Agriculture Organization, the FAO, said the prevalence of poverty and hunger, in addition to the lack of food safety in Iraq has become a phenomenon that severely threatens the future of Iraq.
Reporter, Male #2
Data and documents reveal the new poverty level in Iraq. The largest percentage of poverty is caused by the lack of services and the high unemployment level. And while the illegitimate government claims to have achieved major economic growth, the International Monetary Fund challenged and exposed the falseness of the claim. In its general economic review, the Fund confirmed earlier that Iraq's economic growth is slower than what was expected in 2010. In addition, the Iraqi Central Bank had previously described the rate of economic growth in 2010 as embarrassing. In an attempt to rectify its position and confront the growing criticism, the current Ministry of Planning announced it approved a plan to conduct a new survey on the poverty level in Iraq, to be completed in 2012. Despite the fact that a large number of international organizations confirmed that the poverty level in Iraq has reached about 60 percent, the ministry said the poverty level is only at 23 percent. It indicated it will change its five-year plan to be compatible with the economic reality. At the same time, it asserted the country will economically fail if an annual plan is adopted. The Food and Agriculture Organization, the FAO, said the prevalence of poverty, hunger, and the lack of food safety in Iraq has become a phenomenon that severely threatens the country's future. The FAO predicted these phenomena to cause growth stunts, weight loss, physical and psychological frailty and deformities, in addition slow economic and human development. Poverty will be another pain added to the misery of Iraqis, already enduring the pain of the US occupation and the destruction and devastation it has caused to all infrastructures in Iraq.