Qatar accused of building World Cup stadiums on land stolen from persecuted tribe

Qatar accused of building World Cup stadiums on land stolen from persecuted tribe
A delegation from Al-Ghafran tribe take their protests against the Qatari regime to football's world governing body, FIFA. (Supplied)
Updated 24 September 2018

Qatar accused of building World Cup stadiums on land stolen from persecuted tribe

Qatar accused of building World Cup stadiums on land stolen from persecuted tribe
  • Al-Ghufran tribe hand a letter of protest to the game’s world governing body, FIFA
  • The tribe claim that land used for World Cup stadiums was taken from them by force

ZURICH: Qatar was accused on Monday of building stadiums for the 2022 football World Cup on land stolen from a tribe it has persecuted for more than 20 years. 

A delegation from the Al-Ghufran tribe handed a letter of protest to the game’s world governing body, FIFA, and demanded that Qatar be stripped of the right to hold the tournament unless the tribe receives justice. 

“The World Cup is a gathering of people who come together for the love of the game, honest competition, brotherhood and love and respect among nations; how will Qatar play the role of supplying this when it is so unfair to its own citizens?” a spokesman for the tribe said. 

“The FIFA system states that the country where the World Cup is held must respect and preserve human rights, but this is a country that harms its own citizens and strips them of their rights, and then talks about freedom and democracy.”

The tribe claim that land used for World Cup stadiums was taken from them by force, and that sports facilities were built illegally and illegitimately after the owners were thrown off the land and stripped of their citizenship.

“The state resorted to every illegitimate method in dealing with the Al-Ghufran tribe, from deprivation to expulsion from the country, withdrawal of their official documents and denial of education and health care,” the spokesman said.

The tribe’s ordeal began in 1996, when some of their members voiced support for Sheikh Khalifa Al-Thani, the Qatari emir deposed the previous year by his son Hamad, father of the current emir, Sheikh Tamim.

About 800 Al-Ghufran families, more than 6,000 people, were stripped of their citizenship and had their property confiscated. Many remain stateless, both in Qatar and in neighboring Gulf countries.

A delegation from the tribe has been in Switzerland for the past week, presenting their case to UN human rights officials in Geneva. 

They have asked the UN to stop Qatari authorities’ continuous and systematic discrimination against them, to protect the tribe’s members and restore their lost rights, and to punish the Qatari regime for human-rights violations.

A delegation from the tribe organized a demonstration on Monday at the Broken Chair, a monumental wooden sculpture opposite the Palace of Nations in Geneva that symbolises opposition to land mines and cluster bombs.

“The international community must stop turning a blind eye to the human rights violations committed against the Al-Ghufran tribe by the Qatari regime,” said Mohamed Saleh Al-Ghafzani, a member of the delegation.

“We are talking to everyone who comes in and out of the United Nations building about our crisis and our stolen rights; after Qatar took our nationality away, there is nothing else we can lose.”


Lebanese security forces foil attempt to smuggle fuel across Syria border

Lebanese security forces foil attempt to smuggle fuel across Syria border
Updated 13 min 54 sec ago

Lebanese security forces foil attempt to smuggle fuel across Syria border

Lebanese security forces foil attempt to smuggle fuel across Syria border
  • Four Lebanese smugglers stashed subsidized fuel in secret tanks hidden inside pick-up trucks
  • Police are working vigilantly to curtail smuggling to Syria but many smugglers are covered up by politicians or influential figures, Arab News told

BEIRUT: Lebanese security forces have foiled a bid to smuggle 8,000 liters of fuel into Syria.   
The Internal Security Forces (ISF) arrested a four-member gang of Lebanese smugglers, who had stashed the subsidized fuel in two secret tanks that were hidden inside pick-up trucks.
ISF said an informant had tipped off intelligence and information teams about the smugglers’ intent to conceal the fuel and smuggle it through one of the Akkar-Hermel routes to Syria.
An ISF squad stopped and impounded three vehicles in a sting operation at Bayno-Al Oyoun highway, leading to Hermel, on Thursday.
The three impounded cars were the pick-up trucks and a white Mercedes, which was used to monitor the route.
“Unfortunately, while law enforcement bodies are working vigilantly to curtail smuggling of subsidized products by smugglers to Syria, many of those are covered up by politicians or influential figures,” an unnamed senior lieutenant said. “Smuggling subsidized goods (mainly petrol and diesel) has prospered recently, especially with smugglers purchasing fuel products here for around LBP40,000 ($26.53) per tank and selling them in Syria for three or four times that price.”
Fuel prices have soared in recent months due to shortages, which Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar blamed on smugglers exporting subsidized supplies to Syria.
If drivers are lucky enough to find petrol stations that are open they are forced to queue for hours. Stations have caps on the amounts of fuel permitted per person, with nobody allowed a full tank. Many stations remain closed.
Ghajar told the media recently that the need for petrol in Syria had encouraged Lebanese smugglers to illegally export subsidized materials for massive profits.
Media reports have said a 20-liter tank of subsidized Lebanese petrol costs nearly $4 dollars per liter according to the market rate, while smugglers were exporting smuggled fuel to Syria where people were willing to pay up to $25 rather than queue for hours.
The Lebanese Army said on Saturday that it had seized four cars, including a black hearse, that were being smuggled to Syria.
The black hearse had been stolen a week previously from the funeral services association in the Sad El Bouchrieh area.
“The stolen vehicles were being prepared to be smuggled to Syria,” said the army. 
Two Lebanese suspects were apprehended in Al-Hermel, 10 kilometers away from the Syrian border, for stealing the cars and arranging them to be smuggled.


Egypt, Arab League condemn Israel’s role in Al-Aqsa Mosque clashes

Stun grenades burst in the air amid clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. (AFP)
Stun grenades burst in the air amid clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. (AFP)
Updated 49 min 15 sec ago

Egypt, Arab League condemn Israel’s role in Al-Aqsa Mosque clashes

Stun grenades burst in the air amid clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. (AFP)
  • More than 160 Palestinians and at least six Israeli police officers were injured in a series of confrontations at the mosque

CAIRO: Egypt’s Foreign Ministry and the Arab League have condemned Israeli forces’ involvement in violent clashes outside Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

More than 160 Palestinians and at least six Israeli police officers were injured in a series of confrontations at the mosque late on Friday.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said that it condemned Israeli forces’ “storming of the mosque and assault on worshippers there.”

A ministry statement called on Israeli authorities to “shoulder their responsibility in accordance with international law in providing the required protection for the Palestinian civilians and their right to perform their religious rituals.”

The ministry also highlighted the need to “halt any activities that violate the sanctity of the mosque, the holy month of Ramadan, and the Islamic and Christian Arab identity of Jerusalem city.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez reiterated Egypt’s rejection of any illegal activities that seek to undermine the rights of the Palestinian people, particularly the construction or expansion of settlements on Palestinian territory, as well as confiscation of lands and displacement of Palestinians. 

This “represents a violation of international law, undermines the chances of achieving the two-state solution, and represents a threat to the pillars of security and stability in the region,” said Hafez.

He denounced Israeli attempts to evict Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah district in east Jerusalem, saying that this “represents a violation of international humanitarian law and a continuation of the policy of forced displacement.”

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit also condemned the violence at the mosque, and the targeting of unarmed Palestinians with sound and gas bombs as well as rubber bullets. 

Warning of the consequences of escalation, Aboul Gheit said that the assault “provokes the feelings of Muslims around the world and reflects the intended Israeli policy of escalation.”

The violence follows recent “provocations and irresponsible actions against the Palestinian people,” he said.

Aboul Gheit called for immediate international action to halt the assaults, warning of an irreversible escalation in the occupied territories. 

An official source in the Arab League Secretariat quoted Aboul Gheit as saying that the timing of the Israeli assault reveals “a premeditated intention to provoke the Palestinians.”

It “also demonstrates recklessness with the feelings of Muslims and their right to perform their rituals in Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan,” he said.

The Arab League chief held the Israeli government accountable for what he described as “dangerous, irresponsible escalation.”


Iran prisoner ‘forgotten’ by UK govt: Family

One of at least four UK nationals detained by Iran, Anoosheh Ashoori was imprisoned for “spying” and “acquiring illegal wealth.” (Amnesty International)
One of at least four UK nationals detained by Iran, Anoosheh Ashoori was imprisoned for “spying” and “acquiring illegal wealth.” (Amnesty International)
Updated 08 May 2021

Iran prisoner ‘forgotten’ by UK govt: Family

One of at least four UK nationals detained by Iran, Anoosheh Ashoori was imprisoned for “spying” and “acquiring illegal wealth.” (Amnesty International)
  • ‘Boris Johnson has never mentioned us or been in contact with us privately’
  • British-Iranian dual national Anoosheh Ashoori was arrested in Tehran in 2017

LONDON: The family of a British-Iranian dual national detained in Iran fear that he will “be forgotten” as the UK government negotiates the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Elika Ashoori, daughter of retired engineer Anoosheh Ashoori, said UK government officials and ministers have “refused to name” her father when discussing the hostage situation.

Elika told The Times: “(UK Prime Minister) Boris Johnson has never mentioned us or been in contact with us privately. None of us have been mentioned at all.”

She warned that the government might be choosing to focus on the release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, whose case has been given more media attention, even if it means her father is left behind.

Elika said: “This is by no means the fault of Richard Ratcliffe or Nazanin — the blame is on the government.”

Anoosheh’s family previously accepted UK Foreign Office requests to “stay silent” following his 2017 arrest in Tehran.

They were warned by officials that publicizing the case would undermine his bid for freedom.

One of at least four UK nationals detained by Iran, Anoosheh was imprisoned for “spying” and “acquiring illegal wealth.”

His family say both charges were trumped up to provide Tehran with greater bargaining power in negotiations.

The UK Foreign Office has said Anoosheh’s case was “raised regularly” with Iranian authorities at the highest levels, including by Johnson.

“We strongly urge Iran to reunite Mr. Ashoori with his family,” an official said. “Our embassy in Tehran continues to request consular access. We are in close contact with his family and continue to support them.

“We remain committed to securing the immediate and permanent release of arbitrarily detained dual British nationals in Iran.”


Egypt to produce 60m doses of Sinovac vaccine from next month

Egypt is set to begin the production of 60 million doses of the Chinese Sinovac coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine next month. (Reuters/File Photo)
Egypt is set to begin the production of 60 million doses of the Chinese Sinovac coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine next month. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 08 May 2021

Egypt to produce 60m doses of Sinovac vaccine from next month

Egypt is set to begin the production of 60 million doses of the Chinese Sinovac coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine next month. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Egypt is able to procure a variety of vaccines, including the Chinese Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines

CAIRO: Egypt is set to begin the production of 60 million doses of the Chinese Sinovac coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine next month.

The announcement was made by Mohammed Abdel Fattah, head of the central administration for preventive affairs at Egypt’s Ministry of Health. The health official stressed that the goal was to ensure vaccination for as large a number of citizens as possible.

In televised statements, Fattah said that the elderly and those working in the medical sector would be among the prioritized categories of people to receive the vaccine, followed by those working in the tourism and banking sector.

He indicated that large doses of vaccines would become available in the coming days and confirmed that Egypt was able to procure a variety of vaccines, including the Chinese Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines. It has also contracted to receive the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.

Fattah said although there has been a significant increase in COVID-19 cases recently, medicines and oxygen tanks were available, and hospitals were ready to receive critical patients.

He said that a number of vaccination centers in the country had been opened that would allow a large number of citizens to be inoculated at the same time.

The vaccine center in the area of the Cairo International Fair accepts citizens from the governorates of Cairo, Giza and Al-Qalioubiya. Its daily capacity reaches 10,000 people, and it includes 96 clinics and a medical team. 

Fattah called on citizens to sign up for the vaccine, noting that the demand among Egyptians to become vaccinated has increased, especially after the outbreak of the Indian variant.


Egypt to test visitors from countries with COVID-19 variants on arrival

Egypt to test visitors from countries with COVID-19 variants on arrival
Updated 08 May 2021

Egypt to test visitors from countries with COVID-19 variants on arrival

Egypt to test visitors from countries with COVID-19 variants on arrival

CAIRO: Egypt will require all visitors arriving from “countries where variants of the virus have appeared” to take a rapid COVID-19 test upon arrival, its health ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
The statement did not specify the countries from which passengers would take the 15-minute DNA test, called ID NOW.
Egypt’s new coronavirus cases have been steadily rising in recent weeks. On Saturday it reported 1,125 new cases and 65 deaths, although experts say that reflects only a fraction of total cases.
In a statement on Saturday, Egypt’s tourism ministry clarified that restaurants and coffee shops attached to hotels were exempt from a recent decree that such outlets as well as malls and stores would close at 9 p.m. local time (GMT +2) in order to not affect tourism.