Oman’s oldest resident dies apparently aged 127, but would have outlived empires, countries and conflicts

Salim bin Hamad bin Abdullah Qassabi, who reportedly died aged 127-years-old
Updated 13 September 2017
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Oman’s oldest resident dies apparently aged 127, but would have outlived empires, countries and conflicts

DUBAI: An Oman-based website is claiming the country’s oldest resident died on Tuesday at the impressive age of 127-years-old – that is five years older than Jeanne Calment who was officially verified as the world’s longest living person who died in France in 1997.
It is not uncommon for claims of longevity that, if true, would put the official record breakers to shame.
And if Salim bin Hamad bin Abdullah Qassabi’s story in the Oman Daily Observer is true, then he was born in 1890 in the district of Bahla, south of the Hajjar mountains and close to Nizwa city.
His life would have spanned 13 decades, across three centuries. He would have lived through two world wars, and countless others.
His lifetime would have seen the shifting of international borders, the creation of new countries and the end of empires.
If true, Qassabi was born long before most countries in the Middle East were even created.
During his lifetime there was definitely the creation of technologies that have changed people’s lives forever.
The atom bomb was created and used – with devastating effect. And international travel became common place thanks to the introduction of commercial air travel.
Travel was something Qassabi was familiar with according to the Oman Daily Observer.
He traveled to Zanzibar in 1940, when it was still under British rule, where he remained for 22 years, working in trade and was also said to be supportive of Omani immigrants living there.
The Oman Daily Observer website described him as a man who was known “for his good deeds, tolerance and (for) resolving disputes.”
The report added that he left Zanzibar in 1962 following a coup, and returned to Oman, but two years later traveled to Kuwait where he worked.
He eventually returned to Oman where he spent the rest of his life.


Black Tunisians push for equality, in face of racism

Tunisian men walk past shops on the resort island of Djerba on October 22, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 14 November 2018
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Black Tunisians push for equality, in face of racism

  • On October 9, Tunisia’s parliament adopted a landmark law penalizing the use of racist words, the incitement of hatred and discrimination
  • “The worst thing is, it’s a cemetery next to a mosque where the imams call for equality and respect,” Douiri said

DJERBA, Tunisia: Tunisian Nadia Borji says she wants to be considered as equal but fears she will end up buried in her town’s so-called “slaves” cemetery — because she is black.
Black Tunisians, including some descended from slaves, make up a minority that is barely visible in the north African country.
Many hope for greater equality after a law was passed last month criminalizing all forms of racism.
“This term ‘slave’ disturbs me enormously. It shouldn’t still exist!” protested Borji, who came to her mother’s grave to read a prayer.
Black residents still bury their dead in a poorly maintained piece of land, full of earthen tombs covered with parched plants near Houmt Souk, on the island of Djerba.
Two other cemeteries lie a stone’s throw away — reserved for people with light skin.
“We are accustomed to knowing that it is abnormal to suffer such discrimination,” said 46-year-old Borji.
Her cousin Dorra Douiri directed her anger toward a “racist and very painful” societal schism.
“The worst thing is, it’s a cemetery next to a mosque where the imams call for equality and respect,” Douiri said.
The head of a municipal district in Houmt Souk acknowledged that cemeteries should not be separated.
“Cemeteries for slaves and cemeteries for free people — it is a phenomenon that exists and must be addressed,” said Mourad Missaoui.
Unlike the major cities of Tunis and Sfax, Djerba residents bury their dead without requiring permission from the council.
This means their burial place can still be decided by social status and even their skin color, he told AFP.

Slavery was formally abolished in Tunis and in part of what forms modern day Tunisia in 1846.
On October 9, Tunisia’s parliament adopted a landmark law penalizing the use of racist words, the incitement of hatred and discrimination.
These crimes are now punishable by three years in prison and a 5,000 euro (5,600 dollar fine).
Racism remains “well anchored in the minds of many Tunisians,” said Saadia Mosbah, president of M’nemty, an association that defends minorities.
Last month’s law is an acknowledgement by the state that racism persists — but the law must now be applied, he added.
“The real work starts now,” he said.
But there could be a long battle ahead.
“There is no harmony between legal texts and what happens” in reality, said municipal leader Missaoui.
Town halls on Djerba even use a designation widely perceived as being highly racist on slave descendants’ birth certificates.
The word in question is “atig” — a prefix followed by the name of the master who granted freedom to the ancestors of the certificate holder.
In the absence of popular pressure to withdraw the designation — or a directive from the government — the word and “its racist connotations” will continue to be applied by town halls, said Missaoui.

In the city of Medenine and the large village of Gosba, around 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Djerba, most people are black and many of them complain of racism.
“Our village is extremely marginalized, because of the color of our skin,” decried 27-year-old Mohamed, as he played cards on the floor of shop.
“We have no cafes, no cultural houses, no proper buildings — absolutely nothing,” he complained. “There is only contempt.”
“It is not this law that will protect the region. It requires above all investment... for residents, who are considered second class Tunisians,” he said.
In Gosba, marriage between a black and white Tunisian is socially rejected.
“You can be the most handsome and rich man, (but) you’ll always be black and they will never accept you marrying a white woman,” said 61-year-old grocer Ali Koudi.