The Malaysian Insider :: World

sumber :-

The Malaysian Insider :: World

Knives and petrol bombs return to Cairo streets

Posted: 06 Mar 2011 06:28 PM PST

Protesters stand before soldiers in front of the state security headquarters in downtown Cairo yesterday, March 6, 2011. — Reuters pic

CAIRO, March 7 — Men in plainclothes armed with swords and petrol bombs attacked protesters in Cairo last night during a demonstration demanding reform of security services with a reputation for brutality, witnesses said.

Dozens of men wielding knives and machetes and hurling bricks and petrol bombs confronted protesters at the headquarters of Egypt's state security, a force whose abuses fuelled an uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, they said.

It appeared to be the first time armed men in plainclothes had deployed in force against reform activists in central Cairo since Mubarak was forced to step down and hand power to the military, which has charted a course to democratic elections.

The scenes evoked attacks on protesters in Tahrir Square by men claiming loyalty to Mubarak during the 18-day uprising that led to his downfall. Since then, activists have pressed demands for deeper reform, including a major shake-up of the police.

Egyptian soldiers, on the streets since the start of the uprising, fired into the air for several minutes to disperse the protesters. As they ran, the protesters were confronted by men they described as thugs.

The state news agency said the demonstrators were trying to break into the building.

A branch of the Interior Ministry, critics of the state security apparatus say it functions as a domestic spy agency.

Its networks penetrated deep into society, monitoring citizens and tapping phone lines. Emergency laws give its officers wide powers to act against government opponents.

In the last two days, protesters have broken into 11 offices belonging to the state security apparatus across the country, seizing documents which they feared would be destroyed by officers to cover up abuses perpetrated by the force.

"The army started firing in the air to disperse us," said Mohammed Fahmy. "We tried to run away but we were met by 200 thugs in plainclothes carrying sharp weapons on the other side," he said, putting the number of protesters at 2,000.

Fahmy said there were 15 injuries, none of them serious.

The military council which has ruled Egypt since Mubarak stepped down warned against publication of documents taken from state security offices and urged their return.

Redeploying the police force, which largely disintegrated in the early days of the uprising, and building public confidence in the internal security forces is one of the main challenges confronting a new government unveiled yesterday. New ministers of the interior, foreign affairs and justice were announced in a reshuffle that met some of the demands of reformists in a purge of officials chosen by Mubarak.

Nabil Elaraby, a former International Court of Justice judge, was named minister of foreign affairs, replacing Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the face of Mubarak's foreign policy since 2004 and the most prominent minister to hang on this long.

The reshuffle marks the latest reforms enacted by the ruling military council, which has appeared ever more responsive to the demands of groups that rose up against Mubarak.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces last week appointed a prime minister with the backing of youth protest groups to replace Ahmed Shafiq, whom Mubarak appointed to the post in his last weeks in power. The new Cabinet will require the approval of the council headed by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

The council has charted a course towards parliamentary and presidential elections within six months so it can hand power back to a civilian, elected government.

Essam Sharaf, the new premier, met new ministers yesterday.

"This goes a long way in satisfying the demands of the revolutionary groups," Mustapha Kamal al-Sayyid, a political scientist told Reuters, talking about the reshuffle.

Elaraby was Egypt's former permanent representative at the United Nations. He is remembered for expressing reservations about the Camp David peace treaty with Israel which he helped to negotiate, Sayyid said.

He was also a member of the independent council of "Wise Men" which formed after the eruption of the uprising against Mubarak to urge his administration to make reforms.

The military council hopes the new government will find acceptance among Egyptians and restore confidence that will allow the economy to start moving again.

Mansour el-Essawy, the new interior minister, vowed to work to improve the image of the police force.

"I have spoken of the need to shrink the role of the state security apparatus, so that it is only focussed on fighting terrorism," the state news agency quoted him as saying.

Essawy had not been associated with State Security in his former role as a senior Interior Ministry official, Sayyid said.

Neither was he seen as part of the inner circle of Habib al-Adli, who held the post for 13 years until Mubarak removed him from his job at the start of the protests against his rule. Adli is on trial, charged with money laundering.

"Essawy is known for fighting corruption," Sayyid said. — Reuters

Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.

Saudi Arabia detains Shi’ites as clerics ban protests

Posted: 06 Mar 2011 05:17 PM PST

Saudi Shi'ite cleric Tawfiq al-Amir (centre) performs prayers after he was released in Al-Ahsa, March 6, 2011. — Reuters pic

DUBAI, March 7 — Saudi security forces have detained at least 22 minority Shi'ites who protested last week against discrimination, activists said yesterday, as the kingdom tried to keep the wave of Arab unrest outside its borders.

Saudi Shi'ites have staged small demonstrations in the Eastern Province, which holds much of the oil wealth of the world's top crude exporter.

The province is near Bahrain, the scene of protests in recent weeks by majority Shi'ites against their Sunni rulers.

"Twenty-two were arrested on Thursday plus four on Friday," said rights activist Ibrahim al-Mugaiteeb, who heads the independent Saudi-based Human Rights First Society. "This was all in Qatif." He later said one had been freed.

Mugaiteeb said the interior ministry had released Shi'ite cleric Tawfiq al-Amer, arrested last week.

A Shi'ite activist in the province's main town of Qatif, who did not want to be named, also said he knew of 22 arrests. Interior Ministry officials could not be reached for comment.

Protests started in the area of Qatif and neighbouring Awwamiya and spread to the town of Hofuf on Friday. The demands were mainly for the release of prisoners demonstrators say are held without trial.

Saudi Shi'ites complain they struggle to get government jobs and benefits given to other citizens.

The government of Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy without an elected parliament that usually does not tolerate public dissent, denies the charges.

Scholars forbid protests

The kingdom's Council of Senior Clerics issued a statement yesterday backing an interior ministry warning on Saturday that said demonstrations violated Islamic law. They also said signing reform petitions "violates what God ordered".

The authorities are used to Shi'ites taking to the streets in their communities but fear protests catching on in major cities such as Riyadh and Jeddah.

"Reform and advice should not be via demonstrations and ways that provoke strife and division, this is what the religious scholars of this country in the past and now have forbidden and warned against," said the statement carried by state media.

Democracy activists say peaceful protests are their right.

"We are really worried by the detentions and harassment that people who take part in protests are facing," a statement by 15 rights activists said yesterday.

"These practices conflict with the right of peaceful association that the kingdom committed to . . . at the UN Human Rights Council."

The activists said wives and other relatives of men detained since a 1996 attack on US military in Khobar were ejected from the office of the local governor, Prince Mohammed bin Fahd, on Saturday when they tried to petition for their release.

"They met first on Wednesday with an official and he promised they would have a meeting with the governor. But when they went, he declined to meet and security guards intervened," the Shi'ite activist said.

The Shi'ite website Rasid said they were verbally abused, as an official told them they were lucky the detainees had not been executed. The women started chanting "freedom, freedom".

The unrest has toppled regimes in Egypt and Tunisia and has spread to Saudi neighbours Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan and Oman.

More than 17,000 people backed a call on Facebook to hold two demonstrations in Saudi Arabia this month, the first one on Friday.

A loose alliance of liberals, moderate Islamists and Shi'ites have petitioned King Abdullah to allow elections in the kingdom.

Last month, Abdullah returned to Riyadh after a three-month medical absence and announced UD$37 billion (RM112 billion) in benefits for citizens in an apparent bid to curb dissent. — Reuters


Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

0 ulasan:

Catat Ulasan