Lebanon police scuffle with students protesting tuition hikes

Lebanon police scuffle with students protesting tuition hikes
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Lebanese students protest a decision by top universities to adopt a new dollar exchange rate to price tuition in Beirut's Hamra district on December 19, 2020. (AFP)
Lebanon police scuffle with students protesting tuition hikes
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Lebanese students protest a decision by top universities to adopt a new dollar exchange rate to price tuition in Beirut's Hamra district on December 19, 2020. (AFP)
Lebanon police scuffle with students protesting tuition hikes
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Lebanese students protest a decision by top universities to adopt a new dollar exchange rate to price tuition in Beirut's Hamra district on December 19, 2020. (AFP)
Lebanon police scuffle with students protesting tuition hikes
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Lebanese students burn dumpsters while protesting a decision by top universities to adopt a new dollar exchange rate to price tuition in Beirut's Hamra district on December 19, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 19 December 2020

Lebanon police scuffle with students protesting tuition hikes

Lebanon police scuffle with students protesting tuition hikes
  • The protest came in response to a decision by AUB and LAU to price tuition based on an exchange rate of 3,900 Lebanese pounds to the dollar
  • The nosediving currency is still officially pegged at around 1,500 pounds to the greenback

BEIRUT: Lebanese riot police on Saturday scuffled with students protesting a decision by top universities to adopt a new dollar exchange rate to price tuition — equivalent to a major fee hike.
Near the entrance of the American University of Beirut (AUB) in the city’s Hamra district, security forces fired tear gas to disperse protesters who were trying to approach the main gate.
Students responded by throwing water bottles and other objects at riot police blocking their path.
It was not immediately clear if there were any injuries.
The protest came in response to a decision by AUB and the Lebanese American University (LAU), another top private institution, to price tuition based on an exchange rate of 3,900 Lebanese pounds to the dollar.
The nosediving currency is still officially pegged at around 1,500 pounds to the greenback.
The move has prompted fears that other universities could follow suit, potentially leading to an exodus of students from private institutions while public universities remain underfunded and overstretched.
Hundreds of students had gathered in Hamra earlier Saturday in a protest they billed a “student day of rage.”
They chanted anti-government slogans and called for affordable education in a country mired in its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
Later in the evening, some torched dumpsters to block the street and vandalized banks before security forces pushed them out.
Over the past year, the Lebanese pound has lost up to 80 percent of its value on the black market, where on Saturday the dollar was selling for at least 8,200 pounds.
Universities have struggled to adapt to the de facto devaluation as prices nationwide have soared.
Commercial banks have halted dollar transactions and restricted withdrawals of Lebanese pounds, in moves that have starved many of their savings.
According to the United Nations, more than half of Lebanon’s population is now living in poverty.


Explosions heard inside US base in eastern Homs near Iraqi border — Syrian state TV

Explosions heard inside US base in eastern Homs near Iraqi border — Syrian state TV
Updated 05 December 2021

Explosions heard inside US base in eastern Homs near Iraqi border — Syrian state TV

Explosions heard inside US base in eastern Homs near Iraqi border — Syrian state TV

DUBAI: Syrian state television reported on Sunday that multiple explosions had been heard inside the US base in the Al-Tanf region in eastern Homs, near the Iraqi border.


Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Vatican meeting to discuss Document on Human Fraternity

Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Vatican meeting to discuss Document on Human Fraternity
Updated 05 December 2021

Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Vatican meeting to discuss Document on Human Fraternity

Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Vatican meeting to discuss Document on Human Fraternity
  • The two discussed their vision of what the relationship between followers of religions should be
  • Last month, Sheikh Al-Tayeb met Pope Francis on the sidelines of the Religious Leaders on Climate Change summit

Cairo: Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, held a meeting in the Vatican with Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, to discuss how to implement the provisions of the Document on Human fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.

This joint statement, which was signed by Pope Francis of the Catholic Church and Sheikh Al-Tayeb on Feb. 4, 2019, in Abu Dhabi, includes various proposed solutions from a religious standpoint to the current problems facing the world.

During the meeting Sheikh Al-Tayeb said that “the relationship of Al-Azhar and the Vatican remains an effective and real model for spreading tolerance and peace and combating extremism, hatred, wars and conflicts, and that the path of peace and dialogue is a difficult path, but the path is moving and making efforts,” adding that the world is in urgent need of the values of brotherhood, peaceful coexistence and respect for the other.

He stressed that religious leaders and scholars have a religious and societal duty to confront negative phenomena, especially with regard to moral aspects.

The two discussed their vision of what the relationship between followers of religions should be, and the role that religions should play in our contemporary world. The document seeks to activate dialogue about coexistence among human beings.

Ayuso said that the Grand Imam and His Holiness Pope Francis had the courage to fight battles for the good of humanity, and that the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity was not an easy thing.

But their persistence and sincerity helped to break barriers and repair broken bridges between some Muslims and Christians, and continued the dialogue between Al-Azhar and the Vatican after a rupture of nearly six years. They said they had begun to reap the fruits of this document in a rapprochement not only at the level of official institutions and institutes, but also between individuals among the wider masses.

Ayuso spoke about the great efforts of the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity that emerged from the document, noting that this committee includes religious and cultural leaders from different ethnic, social and cultural backgrounds around the world.

He said that even in their diversity the members of the committee represent a group of friends loyal to their humanity, united by their concern to work for mankind and end its suffering. They seek to replace hatred with love and intolerance with dialogue, especially between young people, to ensure healthy relations and a better future for coming generations.

Last month, Sheikh Al-Tayeb met Pope Francis on the sidelines of the Religious Leaders on Climate Change summit, where they said that returning to the teachings of religions is the way to save the world from extremism and division.


Israel urges hard line against Iran at nuclear talks

Israel urges hard line against Iran at nuclear talks
Updated 05 December 2021

Israel urges hard line against Iran at nuclear talks

Israel urges hard line against Iran at nuclear talks
  • Israel has been watching with concern as world powers sit down with Iran to jump-start talks on the tattered nuclear deal
  • Talks in Vienna aimed at re-imposing curbs on Iran’s nuclear program restarted last week after a more than five-month hiatus

TEL AVIV: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday urged world powers to take a hard line against Iran in negotiations to curb the country’s nuclear program, as his top defense and intelligence officials headed to Washington amid the flailing talks.
Israel has been watching with concern as world powers sit down with Iran to jump-start talks on the tattered nuclear deal. Iran last week struck its own hard line as talks resumed in Vienna, suggesting everything discussed in previous rounds of diplomacy could be renegotiated. Iran also isn’t slowing down the advances in its atomic program, further raising the stakes in the talks, which are crucial to cooling years of tensions boiling in the wider Mideast.
Talks in Vienna aimed at re-imposing curbs on Iran’s nuclear program restarted last week after a more than five-month hiatus.
Israel has long opposed the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, saying it didn’t go far enough to halt the country’s nuclear program and doesn’t address Iran’s military involvement in countries bordering Israel.
“I call on every country negotiating with Iran in Vienna to take a strong line and make it clear to Iran that they cannot enrich uranium and negotiate at the same time,” Bennett told a meeting of his Cabinet. “Iran must begin to pay a price for its violations.”
Israel is not a party to the negotiations but it has made a point of keeping up lines of communication with its European and American allies during the talks, which are set to resume this week.
Israeli spy chief David Barnea headed to Washington late Saturday on a previously unannounced trip and Defense Minister Benny Gantz leaves Wednesday for meetings with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was in London and Paris last week to discuss the talks with Israel’s European allies.


Jordanian court jails five suspects for COVID-19 hospital deaths

Jordanian court jails five suspects for COVID-19 hospital deaths
Updated 05 December 2021

Jordanian court jails five suspects for COVID-19 hospital deaths

Jordanian court jails five suspects for COVID-19 hospital deaths
  • One of the convicts was the former director of the hospital Abdel Razak Al-Khashman
  • Ten COVID-19 patients died at the Al-Hussein New Salt Hospital on March 13 after the facility ran out of oxygen

AMMAN: A Jordanian court on Sunday sentenced five suspects to three years in prison each for their involvement in the oxygen outage that caused the death of 10 patients with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the New Salt Hospital.

In its ruling, a copy of which was seen by Arab News, the court charged the five main suspects in the case, dubbed the “Salt medical tragedy,” with causing death, repeated 10 times, and imposed on each one of them a fine of JD3,575 ($5,056).

One of the convicts was the former director of the hospital Abdel Razak Al-Khashman.

The court declared eight other suspects in the case innocent and said that the five convicted defendants shall have the right to challenge the verdict at the specialized courts.

Ten COVID-19 patients died at the Al-Hussein New Salt Hospital on March 13 this year after the facility ran out of oxygen, sparking widespread anger in the kingdom and forcing Health Minister Nazir Obeidat to resign.

Hundreds of angry people gathered outside the hospital at the time, while the Salt town in the northwest of Amman saw nights of protests that prompted the intervention of security forces.  

King Abdullah of Jordan visited the hospital on March 13. In video footage online, he is visibly angry, shaking his head, gesticulating, and telling the hospital director: “How could such a thing happen? This is unacceptable.”

Relatives of the dead said the hospital had been suffering from a severe shortage of oxygen and medical staff. They called for the entire government to be held accountable.

With the case sparking public wrath across the kingdom, Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh apologized for the incident, saying, “What happened is a huge and flagrant mistake, unjustified and unacceptable. We cannot accept the death of a single Jordanian…The government alone assumes full responsibility for what happened.”


Four Houthi missiles hit densely populated Marib city in Yemen

Four Houthi missiles hit densely populated Marib city in Yemen
Updated 14 sec ago

Four Houthi missiles hit densely populated Marib city in Yemen

Four Houthi missiles hit densely populated Marib city in Yemen
  • Yemen’s information minister calls upon US, UN to condemn terror attacks on residential areas

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: Three Yemeni civilians were wounded when four missiles fired by the Iran-backed Houthis landed in residential areas in Yemen’s central city of Marib as heavy fighting rages outside the strategic city, local officials and residents said on Sunday.
Large explosions rocked the city after the four missiles hit the airport, Al-Shareka and Rawdha neighborhoods, residents said.
Footage on social media showed thick smoke billowing from shelled areas as people fled.
Yemen’s Information Minister called on the UN and the US Yemen envoys to condemn the Houthi missile attacks and to designate the Houthi movement as a terrorist organization.
“The Houthi militia’s repeated targeting of the city of Marib, which is crowded with millions of residents and displaced people, with ballistic missiles is part of its attempts to inflict a big number of casualties among civilians. This is a cowardly act of revenge,” Moammar Al-Eryani said on Twitter.
The Houthi shelling of Marib came as the Arab coalition announced it had intercepted four explosive-rigged drones fired by the Houthis at southern areas in Saudi Arabia.
The coalition also said it had killed more than 115 Houthis in the past 24 hours after targeting their locations and military vehicles with 19 airstrikes in the provinces of Jouf and Marib, bringing the total number of Houthi deaths during the past 48 hours to more than 175. 

At the same time, fierce fighting between government troops and the Houthis broke out on Sunday in flashpoint sites south of Marib city as the Houthis intensified their attacks, a local military official told Arab News.
The official said dozens of Houthis were killed in fighting in different locations in Juba district and seven others surrendered to government troops.
Yemeni military officials usually link the Houthi arbitrary shelling of the city of Marib to the death of rebel military leaders or defeats they have suffered.
“We think that a number of high-ranking Houthi military leaders were killed on Sunday in Marib province,” the official said.
The commander of the 143rd Infantry Brigade in Marib, Brig. Gen. Thayab Abdul Waded Al-Qibili, said on Sunday that army troops killed dozens of Houthis and destroyed 10 military vehicles during heavy fighting in Marib’s Rowdhat Jehim, praising the Arab coalition’s warplanes for targeting Houthi military reinforcements on the battlefields south of Marib, Yemen’s Defense Ministry news site reported.
Thousands of combatants and civilians have been killed in the province of Marib since February when the Houthis renewed a military offensive to seize control of the energy-rich city of Marib, the government’s last bastion in the north.