Palestinian-American candidate is source of West Bank pride

A Palestinian girl offers sweets to family members of Rashida Tlaib — aunt Fadwa, center, grandmother Muftiyeh, right and uncle Bassam — as they celebrate Rashida’s US election victory, at the family house, in the West Bank village of Beit Ur Al-Foqa on Wednesday. (AP)
Updated 09 August 2018

Palestinian-American candidate is source of West Bank pride

  • The family’s story is typical for many Palestinians, with relatives scattered across the West Bank, Jordan and the US
  • On the campaign trail, she criticized the influence of “big money” on politics and took aim at President Donald Trump

WEST BANK: The Michigan primary victory of Rashida Tlaib, who is expected to become the first Muslim woman and Palestinian-American to serve in the US Congress, triggered an outpouring of joy in her ancestral village on Wednesday.

Relatives in Beit Ur Al-Foqa, where Tlaib’s mother was born, greeted the news with a mixture of pride and hope that she will take on a US administration widely seen as hostile to the Palestinian cause.
“It’s a great honor for this small town. It’s a great honor for the Palestinian people to have Rashida in the Congress,” said Mohammed Tlaib, the village’s former mayor and a distant relative. “For sure she will serve Palestine, for sure she will serve the interests of her nation. She is deeply rooted here.”
Rashida Tlaib, a former state lawmaker, defeated five other candidates to win the Democratic
nomination in her Michigan district in Tuesday’s primary. She will run unopposed, setting her up to take the spot held since 1965 by John Conyers, who stepped
down in December citing health reasons amid charges of sexual harassment.
Tlaib, 42, is the eldest of 14 children born to Palestinian immigrants in Detroit. On her website, she advocates progressive positions associated with the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party, such as universal health care, a higher minimum wage, environmental protection and affordable university tuition.
As a state lawmaker, she sought to defend Detroit’s poor, taking on refineries and a billionaire trucking magnate who she accused of polluting city neighborhoods. On the campaign trail, she criticized the influence of “big money” on politics and took aim at President Donald Trump, whom she famously heckled in 2016 while he was delivering a speech in Detroit.
While noting her Palestinian heritage, her website makes no mention of her views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In a 2016 op-ed explaining why she disrupted then-presidential candidate Trump, she described herself as “American, parent, Muslim, Arab-American, and woman.”
In the West Bank, family members were jubilant as news of her victory came in early Wednesday. Relatives served baklawa, a sweet pastry, and grapes, figs and cactus fruits from their garden to visitors celebrating her win.
Tlaib’s uncle and aunt were speaking on an iPad with her mother, Fatima, back in Michigan.
“Thank God. Thank God,” her mother said. “This is for the Arabs and Muslims all over the world.”
She said her daughter detests Trump and that “God willing” she will defeat him and become the next US president. “She stood up to him during his campaign. God willing, she will do it again and win.”
The first visitor was Mohammed Tlaib, the former mayor, who predicted his five-year-old daughter, Juman, will grow up to be like her famous relative. “Look at her. She is beautiful, smart and strong like her. From now on, I will name her Rashida,” he said.
The family’s story is typical for many Palestinians, with relatives scattered across the West Bank, Jordan and the US. He said some 50 people from the small village have immigrated to the US and now have children in schools and universities in America. Relatives said Tlaib’s late father was from east Jerusalem.


Sudan activists call for protest to disband old ruling party

Updated 2 min 22 sec ago

Sudan activists call for protest to disband old ruling party

  • The transitional government has previously said it would postpone appointing the governors and the legislative body till achieving peace with the country’s rebel groups

CAIRO:  Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets throughout Sudan on Monday to call for disbanding former President Omar al-Bashir's party, the political organ he used to control the country during his 30 years of autocratic rule before being ousted in April.
Separately, Sudan's transitional government and a main rebel faction signed a political declaration amid peace negotiations that began last week, taking a new step toward ending the country's yearslong civil wars. The two sides also renewed a nationwide cease-fire for three months.
The protests in Khartoum and other parts of the country coincided with the anniversary of an uprising in 1964. That push ended six years of military rule in Sudan following a wave of riots and strikes.
Sudan's current transitional government came to power after a similar campaign of mass unrest, which eventually led the military to overthrow al-Bashir. The country is now ruled by a joint military-civilian administration, which must navigate a delicate path toward eventual democratic elections in just over three years.
Monday's protests renewed demands to step up an independent investigation into the deadly break-up of a protest sit-in camp in June, which resulted in dozens of causalities among the protesters.
Police blocked off main streets Monday leading to the presidential palace and the military's headquarters in Khartoum — the site of June's deadly dispersal — ahead of the marches, according to Asil Abdu, an activist and a resident of the capital.
A statement by the police warned against "creating a state of chaos," which it said could lead to "unfavorable consequences."
Videos circulated online show protesters marching in Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman. Protests also broke out in other cities such as Atbara, the northern transport hub where the uprising began in December.
The protesters demanding al-Bashir's National Congress Party be disbanded were called for by the Sudanese Professionals' Association, which spearheaded the uprising against the former president.
The SPA has called for the appointment of regional governors and the formation of a legislative body. Creating that interim parliament was part of an August power-sharing agreement signed between the pro-democracy protesters and the country's powerful military.
The transitional government had previously said it would postpone appointing the governors and the legislative body until after achieving peace with the country's rebel groups. That would be a crucial step, since the transitional government is looking to slash military spending in order to revive the battered economy. The uprising against al-Bashir initially began against economic issues, but escalated into calls for his downfall.
Mohammed Hassan al-Taishi, a member of the Sovereign Council and a government negotiator, said Monday that they had agreed on the agenda for the negotiations with the Sudan Revolutionary Front, an alliance of rebel groups from the western Darfur region.
The talks are taking place in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, which itself gained independence from the north in 2011 after years of fighting.
The transitional authorities have set a six-month deadline for making peace with the rebel groups.