Lebanese to contest by-poll from Iran jail

Zakka wrote of Lebanese politician Mohamad Chatah who was assassinated in Beirut.. (Shutterstock)
Updated 14 March 2019
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Lebanese to contest by-poll from Iran jail

  • Nizar Zakka announced he will run for the by-election to fill the vacant Sunni seat in the district of Tripoli

BEIRUT: A Lebanese citizen imprisoned in Iran, Nizar Zakka, announced in a message he sent from Tehran’s Evin prison that he will run for the by-election to fill the vacant Sunni seat in the district of Tripoli in northern Lebanon. 

Zakka, an information technology expert, was kidnapped in September 2015 on his way to Tehran airport after having accepted an invitation from Iran to attend a scientific conference. 

He was a permanent resident of the US, where he served as secretary-general of the Arab ICT Organization in Washington. Iranian authorities have accused him of “spying for the US.” 

Zakka pledged in a message distributed by his family and lawyer to be Lebanese voters’ “loud voice in Parliament, and the voice of every ordinary citizen who has lost his right in a state that knows no justice.” 

He wrote that the Lebanese state had conspired against him when he was kidnapped and “detained in one of the most appalling prisons in the world.” 

He added: “For four years, I have been living in an underground grave between sewers and rats.”

Zakka saluted Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the parties, civil society organizations and personalities that have supported him and his cause. 

“Not a day goes by while I am in prison that I do not remember Mohamad Chatah, and I am sure that had he gotten invited to Iran and responded to the invitation, he would have met the same fate,” Zakka wrote. 

Chatah, a Lebanese politician and economist, was assassinated in 2013 by a car bomb in Beirut. 

He was born in Tripoli, served as finance minister in 2008, and was among the most prominent advisers to Hariri’s Future Movement.


Archaeologists find mosque from when Islam arrived in holy land

Updated 18 July 2019
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Archaeologists find mosque from when Islam arrived in holy land

  • Authorities estimate the mosquer dates back to the 7th to 8th centuries
  • Rare to find house of prayer so ancient whose congregation is likely to have been local farmers

RAHAT, Israel: Archaeologists in Israel have discovered the remains of one of the world’s oldest rural mosques, built around the time Islam arrived in the holy land, they said on Thursday.
The Israel Antiquities Authority estimates that the mosque, uncovered ahead of new construction in the Bedouin town of Rahat in the Negev desert, dates back to the 7th to 8th centuries.
There are large mosques known to be from that period in Jerusalem and in Makkah but it is rare to find a house of prayer so ancient whose congregation is likely to have been local farmers, the antiquities authority said.
Excavated at the site were the remains of an open-air mosque — a rectangular building, about the size of a single-car garage, with a prayer niche facing south toward Makkah.
“This is one of the earliest mosques known from the beginning of the arrival of Islam in Israel, after the Arab conquest of 636 C.E.,” said Gideon Avni of the antiquities authority.
“The discovery of the village and the mosque in its vicinity are a significant contribution to the study of the history of the country during this turbulent period.”