Israel accused of ‘witch hunt’ over visa ban

Human Rights Watch's Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir, a US citizen, sits at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 9, 2018. (AFP / ABBAS MOMANI)
Updated 17 May 2018
0

Israel accused of ‘witch hunt’ over visa ban

  • Human Rights Watch country director Omar Shakir was issued with a deportation notice by Israel earlier this month after his work visa was revoked.
  • A dossier compiled against Shakir by Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy said he “has actively and consistently supported strategies calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel since his early days as a student.”

AMMAN: Human Rights Watch (HRW) has launched a legal bid to prevent the Israeli government deporting its country director over claims that he expressed support for a boycott of the Jewish state.

Omar Shakir, a US citizen and graduate of Stanford University in California, had his work permit revoked this month despite denying the allegations. 

HRW and Shakir submitted a 145-point, 29-page petition to the Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday, accusing Israel of conducting a “witch hunt” aimed at silencing its critics.

Shakir said the legal action will challenge a controversial Israeli law introduced last year to prevent activists who support an international cultural and economic boycott from entering the country.

“This is a draconian law aimed at muzzling any human rights professional whose work opposes the policies of the state of Israel,” Shakir said.

The law sought to punish individuals for expressing political opinions even before applying for a work permit, he added.

HRW is based in the US and has about 400 staff around the world.

In a statement released after the deportation notice was served early this month, the group republished a dossier it said had been compiled against Shakir by Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy.

Noting that he is “an American citizen of Iraqi origin,” the dossier said Shakir “has actively and consistently supported strategies calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel since his early days as a student.”

The document recommended Shakir “be stripped of his work visa and denied re-entry into the country.”

On May 7, the Israeli government issued HRW with a notice ordering Shakir to leave within 14 days. However, the petition to the Jerusalem court yesterday claimed the deportation order was part of an “Orwellian scenario” and a “witch hunt.”

“The decision is tainted by grievous bad faith” based on previous attempts to stop HRW working in Israel and the occupied territories, the petition said.


Process to place the Holy Kaaba's new 'Kiswa' begins for Hajj 2018

Updated 10 min 33 sec ago
0

Process to place the Holy Kaaba's new 'Kiswa' begins for Hajj 2018

JEDDAH: Every year, the old black silk cloth that covers the Kaaba is removed and a new one is draped on the 9th day of the Islamic month of Dhu Al-Hijjah, which falls on Monday Aug 20 this year.
Known in Arabic as the “Kiswa,” the black and gold cloth that is wrapped around the Kaaba gets replaced once a year during the Hajj season.
The move occurs when pilgrims head to Mount Arafat to witness a key ritual during pilgrimage. The older kiswa is removed and replaced with a new one.
On Sunday, a team of technicians are assigned to conduct the task, by lifting the gold- embroidered pieces from the kiswa corners.
This includes lifting the curtain draped over the Kaaba’s door, which is embroidered from pure gold.
It also includes four panels inscribed with Surat Al-Ikhlas [a Qur’anic verse] placed in every corner of the Kaaba and lanterns inscribed with Qur’anic verses hanging in its interior.
The delicate task is carried as per an operational plan to re-adorn the Kaaba with the new kiswa, said Ahmad bin Mohammad Al Masnouri, the head of the King Abdulaziz Complex for the Holy Kaaba Kiswah.