Lebanon implements COVID-19 health pass

Lebanon implements COVID-19 health pass
A nurse checks a dialysis patient at a governmental hospital, in Tripoli, Lebanon, Thursday, July 16, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 02 August 2021

Lebanon implements COVID-19 health pass

Lebanon implements COVID-19 health pass
  • The new rules go into effect Monday, at the peak of Lebanon’s summer tourist season while daily infections hover near the 1,000 mark

DUBAI: Lebanon will implement entry restrictions starting this week to tourist establishments such as beaches, bars and restaurants in a bid to curb a spike in COVID-19 infections. 

Anyone aged 16 and older must show a COVID-19 vaccination certificate, a recent negative coronavirus test or a document proving a previous infection to gain entry, the health ministry said last week. 

The ministry added that workers at those sites who have not received the vaccine will have to perform a PCR test every 72 hours.

The new rules go into effect Monday, at the peak of Lebanon’s summer tourist season while daily infections hover near the 1,000 mark.


Church in former Daesh Iraqi stronghold gets new bell

Church in former Daesh Iraqi stronghold gets new bell
Updated 40 min 44 sec ago

Church in former Daesh Iraqi stronghold gets new bell

Church in former Daesh Iraqi stronghold gets new bell
  • The bell weighing 285kg was cast in Lebanon with donations from a French NGO

MOSUL: A bell was inaugurated at a church in Mosul on Saturday to the cheers of Iraqi Christians, seven years after the Daesh group overran the northern city.
Dozens of faithful stood by as Father Pios Affas rang the newly installed bell for the first time at the Syriac Christian church of Mar Tuma, an AFP correspondent reported.
It drew applause and ululations from the crowd, who took photos on mobile phones, before prayers were held.
“After seven years of silence, the bell of Mar Tuma rang for the first time on the right bank of Mosul,” Affas told them.
Daesh swept into Mosul and proclaimed it their “capital” in 2014, in an onslaught that forced hundreds of thousands of Christians in the northern Nineveh province to flee, some to Iraq’s nearby Kurdistan region.
The Iraqi army drove out the jihadists three years later after months of gruelling street fighting.
The return of the Mosul church bell “heralds days of hope, and opens the way, God willing, for the return of Christians to their city,” said Affas.
“This is a great day of joy, and I hope the joy will grow even more when not only all the churches and mosques in Mosul are rebuilt, but also the whole city, with its houses and historical sites,” he told AFP.
The bell weighing 285 kilogrammes (nearly 630 pounds) was cast in Lebanon with donations from Fraternity in Iraq, a French NGO that helps religious minorities, and transported from Beirut to Mosul by plane and truck.
The church of Mar Tuma, which dates back to the 19th century, was used by the jihadists as a prison or a court.
Restoration work is ongoing and its marble floor has been dismantled to be completely redone.
Nidaa Abdel Ahad, one of the faithful attending the inauguration, said she had returned to her home town from Irbil so that she could see the church being “brought back to life.”
“My joy is indescribable,” said the teacher in her forties. “It’s as if the heart of Christianity is beating again.”
Faraj-Benoit Camurat, founder and head of Fraternity in Iraq, said that “all the representations of the cross, all the Christian representations, were destroyed,” including marble altars.
“We hope this bell will be the symbol of a kind of rebirth in Mosul,” he told AFP by telephone.
Iraq’s Christian community, which numbered more than 1.5 million in 2003 before the US-led invasion, has shrunk to about 400,000, with many of them fleeing the recurrent violence that has ravaged the country.
Camurat said around 50 Christian families had resettled in Mosul, while others travel there to work for the day.
“The Christians could have left forever and abandoned Mosul,” but instead they being very active in the city, he said.


Tunisians protest over president's seizure of powers

Tunisians protest over president's seizure of powers
Updated 18 September 2021

Tunisians protest over president's seizure of powers

Tunisians protest over president's seizure of powers
  • The protesters gathered in the centre of the capital chanting "shut down the coup" and "we want a return to legitimacy"
  • The protest was the first since Saied declared on July 25 he was sacking the PM, assuming executive authority

TUNIS: Several hundred demonstrators gathered in Tunis on Saturday to protest against Tunisian President Kais Saied's seizure of governing powers in July, which triggered a constitutional crisis and prompted accusations of a coup.
The protesters gathered in the centre of the capital chanting "shut down the coup" and "we want a return to legitimacy", while a few dozen Saied supporters held a counter demonstration chanting "the people want to dissolve parliament".
The protest, accompanied by a heavy police presence, was the first since Saied declared on July 25 he was sacking the prime minister, suspending parliament and assuming executive authority.
Saturday's protests may provide an indication of how the security services, many of whose leadership are newly appointed by Saied, will handle public opposition to him.
Police appeared to be treating both sets of protesters equally, standing between the two camps outside the ornate belle epoque theatre on Habib Bourguiba avenue.
Saied's moves were broadly popular in a country chafing from years of economic stagnation and political paralysis, but they have raised fears for the new rights and the democratic system won in the 2011 revolution that sparked the "Arab spring".
Though the biggest party in parliament, the moderate Islamist Ennahda, initially decried his move as a coup, it quickly backed down and the period since Saied's intervention has been calm.
However eight weeks on, Saied is still to appoint a prime minister or declare his longer-term intentions.
A Saied adviser told Reuters this month the president was considering suspending the 2014 constitution and putting a new version to a referendum, a possibility that unleashed the broadest and most vocal opposition to him since July 25.
Meanwhile, with their immunity lifted, some parliamentarians have been arrested, while numerous Tunisians have been stopped from leaving the country.
Saied has rejected accusations of a coup and his supporters have presented his moves as an opportunity to reset the gains of Tunisia's revolution and purge a corrupt elite.
"They are only here to ... protect corrupt people and Islamists," said Mohamed Slim, standing with his son in the counter protest. (Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by David Holmes)


‘Egypt is one of the countries most affected by climate change,’ water minister says

‘Egypt is one of the countries most affected by climate change,’ water minister says
Updated 18 September 2021

‘Egypt is one of the countries most affected by climate change,’ water minister says

‘Egypt is one of the countries most affected by climate change,’ water minister says
  • Mohamed Abdel-Aty said that climate change negatively impacts water resources, with resulting threats to sustainable development and the human right to water
  • The minister said that more than 1,500 structures had been implemented to guard against the dangers of torrential rain – protecting individuals and facilities

Mohamed Abdel-Aty, Egypt’s minister of water resources and irrigation, has said that his country is one of those most affected by climate change.

This is due to rising sea levels and the impact of climate change on the sources of the Nile River, and extreme weather phenomena such as heatwaves, cold waves and torrential rains impacting water resources, agriculture and the food, energy and health sectors, as well as coastal regions and northern lakes.

This is in addition to the risks affecting 12-15 percent of the most fertile lands of the delta as a result of the expected rise in sea level, and the intrusion of saline water, which affects the quality of groundwater.

Abdel-Aty said that climate change negatively impacts water resources, with resulting threats to sustainable development and the human right to water.

He was speaking during a meeting with Ayat Soliman, regional director of the Sustainable Development Department for the Middle East and North Africa at the World Bank Group, and her accompanying delegation. The meeting was to review a climate and development report on Egypt, which is being prepared by experts from the World Bank in cooperation with the Ministry of International Cooperation.

The minister said that more than 1,500 structures had been implemented to guard against the dangers of torrential rain and to protect individuals, facilities and key facilities from its destructive effects, in addition to harvesting rainwater for the use of Bedouin communities in the surrounding areas.

During the meeting, Abdel-Aty reviewed the efforts of the ministry in adapting to climate change through the implementation of several projects to guard against torrential rains, to protect Egyptian beaches, and expand the reuse of agricultural drainage water as one of the non-traditional water resources to meet increasing demand.

Egypt is implementing a number of major projects aimed at protecting its coast (covering about 3,000 km), securing individuals, facilities, public and private properties, roads and investments in coastal areas, working to stop the decline of the beach line and recovering beaches that have been lost due to erosion, and protecting agricultural lands and villages.

The country is also working on contributing to the development of fisheries in the northern lakes. The “Promoting Adaptation to Climate Changes in the North Coast and the Nile Delta” project has been launched with the aim of establishing protection systems, over a distance of 69 km, in five locations on the coast of the Nile River Delta, and the establishment of early warning stations at different depths within the Mediterranean to obtain data related to storm waves and sudden natural phenomena.


Algeria gives disgraced ex-leader Bouteflika 3-days mourning

Algeria gives disgraced ex-leader Bouteflika 3-days mourning
Updated 18 September 2021

Algeria gives disgraced ex-leader Bouteflika 3-days mourning

Algeria gives disgraced ex-leader Bouteflika 3-days mourning
  • Bouteflika, who had been ailing since a stroke in 2013, died Friday at 84
  • Bouteflika's 20-year-long rule, riddled with corruption, ended in disgrace as he was pushed from power amid huge street protests

ALGIERS: Algeria’s leader declared a three-day period of mourning starting Saturday for former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, whose 20-year-long rule, riddled with corruption, ended in disgrace as he was pushed from power amid huge street protests when he decided to seek a new term.
Bouteflika, who had been ailing since a stroke in 2013, died Friday at 84. His public appearances had been rare in the final years of his presidency, and he had not been seen since President Abdelmadjid Tebboune took office in late 2019.
Flags are to fly at half-staff during the mourning period, the president’s office said. The honors reflect Bouteflika’s role in Algeria’s brutal seven-year war for independence from France that ended in 1962. Those who fought are considered martyrs today.
The former president’s lawyer, Salim Salim Hadjouti, said Bouteflika was being laid to rest in an official ceremony at El Alia cemetery, in the section where martyrs of the revolution for independence are buried, a special honor.
Since Bouteflika’s death, public television has not shown images of him, a clear sign that authorities prefer not to go overboard with a farewell as the North African nation has turned past the Bouteflika era. Early on in his mandate, Tebboune announced his policy of a “new Algeria.”
Tebboune has led a fight against the corruption, including in the Bouteflika clan as it emerged that a close circle of officials around the president were enriching themselves and allegedly making decisions in the place of the ailing president. Bouteflika’s brother and special counsellor Said was acquitted in January by a military appeals court of allegedly plotting against the army and the state, but faces corruption charges.


Houthis execute 9 civilians over 2018 coalition killing of leader Al-Samad

Houthis execute 9 civilians over 2018 coalition killing of leader Al-Samad
Updated 18 September 2021

Houthis execute 9 civilians over 2018 coalition killing of leader Al-Samad

Houthis execute 9 civilians over 2018 coalition killing of leader Al-Samad
  • Al-Samad was visiting Hodeidah in April 2018 to incite residents to join the war when the coalition hit his convoy
  • The group were accused of putting SIM cards in the pockets of Al-Samad’s guards

AL-MUKALLA: The Iran-backed Houthi militia on Saturday publicly executed nine people charged with involvement in the killing of the militia’s leader Saleh Al-Samad in 2018.

The Houthi-controlled SABA news agency said on Saturday that “the Public Prosecution implemented the legal retribution verdict against nine people” who allegedly guided the Arab coalition warplanes that killed Al-Samad in the western province of Hodeidah.

The group, including a 17 year old, were accused of putting SIM cards in the pockets of Al-Samad’s guards, helping the coalition to locate the Houthi leader.

Al-Samad, then president of the Houthi Supreme Political Council, was visiting the western province of Hodeidah in April 2018 to incite residents to join the war when the coalition hit his convoy, killing him along with six other people, and inflicting a heavy blow to the Houthi movement.

New images published by Houthi officials show the nine civilians in blue clothes standing before a large gathering of people and soldiers before being shot in the back by machine guns, one by one. Each prisoner collapses on the ground with their hands tied behind their backs.

Among those executed was 17-year-old Abdulaziz Al-Aswad, who was arrested in Hodeidah in 2018 when he was 15.

The Houthis also executed Ali bin Ali Al-Qawzi, a tribal leader and local government official in Hodeidah. He was also abducted in 2018 and later transferred to Sanaa ,where he faced charges of sharing information with the Arab coalition that led to the killing of Al-Samad.

Yemeni lawyers told Arab News that the 10th alleged member of the abducted group, Ali Kazaba, died inside Houthi-controlled prisons as a result of brutal physical torture and medical negligence.

Before the execution, family members of the group sent urgent appeals to the Houthi leader to pardon them. Local and international activists also arranged online campaigns to pressure the rebels into canceling the execution.

Saleh Al-Samad .(File/AP)

“They do not have strong evidence that he is guilty. He is innocent,” one family member said of their relative in an appeal recorded beside the grave of Al-Samad in Sanaa.

Outraged Yemeni lawyers and human rights activists said that the executions were “based on unfounded charges and forced confessions” and that the nine were not granted a fair trial.

Abdel Majeed Sabra, a lawyer who defended three of the executed men, described the execution as “a massacre.”

He said that the relatives demanded the Houthis hand over the bodies for burials in Hodeidah.

“This is premeditated murder that has been legitimized by invalid rulings,” Sabra told Arab News.

Yemenis of different political affiliations have turned to social media to vent their anger over the executions.

Moammar Al-Eryani, Yemen’s minister of information, said that the nine men were subjected to “mock trials” and that “the Houthis were behaving like a terrorist organization.”

He said on Twitter: “Killing orders by Houthi militia against nine civilians are premeditated murders and a replication of the Iran regime’s model of liquidating political opponents. The event is also similar to executions by terrorist organizations Al-Qaeda and Daesh.”

The Geneva-based SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties said that the Houthis had carried out “extrajudicial executions against innocent Yemeni civilians.”

It accused the rebel group of seeking to “exterminate their political opponents.

“SAM affirms its opposition to the political death sentences and its condemnation of the brutal behavior of the Houthi group in killing innocent people in front of camera lenses and a large crowd of the public, and the publication of the execution video in the media.”

The human rights organization Rights Radar for Human Rights said that the executions amounted to war crimes: “We strongly condemn the Houthi rebels in Yemen who executed nine civilians based on false charges and unfair trials. It is considered a war crime.”