Football game against Iran fuels Lebanese pride

Football game against Iran fuels Lebanese pride
Iran won the World Cup 2022 qualifier, 2-1. (AFP)
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Updated 11 November 2021

Football game against Iran fuels Lebanese pride

Football game against Iran fuels Lebanese pride
  • The Lebanese goal, scored in the first half, put a smile on the faces of the Lebanese, who are drowning in misfortunes.

BEIRUT: The Iranian national football team has visited Lebanon on several occasions to compete in the Asian qualifiers. But this week, the Iranian team arrived in a very different set of circumstances, playing Lebanon on Thursday amid a wave of political quarreling and accusations that Tehran is taking over the country and isolating it from its Arab surroundings.

The match, which Iran won 2-1, had sparked a renewed sense of patriotism among the Lebanese for the World Cup 2022 qualifiers.

The Lebanese goal, scored in the first half, put a smile on the faces of the Lebanese, who are drowning in misfortunes.

But while the match sparked national pride among Lebanese supporters, many created fake social media accounts to support the Iranian team and the Wilayat Al-Faqih, the term used to describe the system of governance that Tehran has used since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Although most fans admit that the Lebanese team “lacks equipment, training, physical fitness, and overall readiness due to the financial, economic and institutional crises in Lebanon,” their hearts, as they said, are with the “Cedar men.”

Even politicians encouraged the Lebanese national team.

Independent MP Fouad Makhzoumi wrote: “The hearts of all the Lebanese are with our national football team.”

Activist Mounir Khater tweeted: “The vast majority of the Lebanese are united behind their national football team. The Lebanese love their country, except for a few whose minds have been plagued by ignorance, and the national concept has mixed with the sectarian concept.”

The game took place at the Rafic Hariri Municipal Stadium in Sidon, southern Lebanon, but FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation ruled that fans were not allowed “for security reasons.”

Sports experts regretted that this measure deprived the Lebanese team of its “motivation factor.”

No television channel covered the game, with fans only able to watch it live on YouTube.

FIFA consulted a private security company that had recently conducted an assessment of the security situation in Lebanon. “The report was based on the Tayouneh incident that took place in October,” said Hashem Haidar, head of the Lebanese Football Association.

The Ministry of Youth and Sports addressed a letter to FIFA stressing “the stability of Lebanon and the possibility of allowing fans to attend the game,” but to no avail.

Outside the stadium, the Iranian-Lebanese sporting face-off took an entirely different turn.

Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV tried to please the anti-Hezbollah Lebanese audience by wishing the Lebanese team success. Meanwhile, an online account with the name Abu Ali Qobeisi called for a gathering in Beirut to support the Iranian team.

“Good luck to the Lebanese team against the Iranian occupation,” an activist tweeted.

Another said: “How shameful and despicable are people from the so-called Islamic resistance environment affiliated to the Hezbollah gang in Lebanon who are encouraging the Iranian team in a game against the Lebanese team, of which we are proud.

“What a bunch of malicious spies. Lebanon will forever be number one.”

Political activist Carlos Nafaa said: “If Lebanon were to score against Iran, Hezbollah would file a request to dismiss the referee,” in reference to the numerous requests to dismiss Tarek Bitar, the judge leading the investigation into the Beirut port blast, whom Hezbollah has accused of “politicizing the probe.”

When the Iranian players arrived at Beirut airport two days ago carrying large amounts of luggage, some Lebanese said that their bags could contain “weapons or cash for Hezbollah since the team’s short stay does not require that many bags.”

This prompted the interior minister to ask airport security to “investigate the luggage and submit a detailed report in order to take appropriate measures in this regard.”

Further controversy has surrounded comedian Hussein Kaouk, who has been doing sketches on Al-Jadeed TV as a Shiite young man who lives in the southern suburb of Beirut and is affiliated with Hezbollah and the Amal movement.

Since he started sarcastically playing this character, Kaouk has been heavily criticized by Hezbollah supporters, some of whom have sent him death threats.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech before the football match ended during which he attacked Saudi Arabia and those criticizing him in Lebanon.


Turkey re-evaluating death penalty after Erdogan’s wildfires comment — minister

Turkey re-evaluating death penalty after Erdogan’s wildfires comment — minister
Updated 10 sec ago

Turkey re-evaluating death penalty after Erdogan’s wildfires comment — minister

Turkey re-evaluating death penalty after Erdogan’s wildfires comment — minister
ISTANBUL: Turkey will reconsider a 2004 decision to abolish capital punishment, the justice minister said on Saturday, after President Tayyip Erdogan raised the death penalty in connection with the cause of this week’s wildfires.
Capital punishment was struck from the constitution in the early years of Erdogan’s rule. But after a suspected deliberate blaze destroyed 4,500 hectares (11,119 acres) of Aegean coastal forest, Erdogan said tougher justice was needed.
Authorities have said that a suspect detained in connection with the fire has admitted to causing it. The blaze, in woodland near the resort of Marmaris, has been contained, authorities said on Saturday.
After visiting the scene on Friday, Erdogan said the punishment for burning forests should be “intimidating, and if that’s a death sentence, it’s a death sentence.”
Speaking to reporters in the eastern town of Agri on Saturday, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said the president’s comments “are instructions to us.”
“We have started working on it as the ministry,” Bozdag said, adding that the current punishment for starting wildfires was 10 years in prison, rising to a possible life sentence if part of organized crime.
The country’s first big blaze of the summer began on Tuesday and conjured memories of last year’s fires which ravaged 140,000 hectares of countryside, the worst on record.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Thursday that the detained suspect had admitted to burning down the forest out of frustration due to family issues.
Local officials told Reuters in recent days that authorities lacked the necessary equipment and personnel for another summer of fires.
On Friday, Forestry Minister Vahit Kirisci said 88 percent of forest fires in Turkey were started by people.

Groups in Spain and Morocco push for border deaths inquiry

Groups in Spain and Morocco push for border deaths inquiry
Updated 25 June 2022

Groups in Spain and Morocco push for border deaths inquiry

Groups in Spain and Morocco push for border deaths inquiry
  • The Moroccan Human Rights Association reported 27 dead but the figure could not immediately be confirmed
  • APDHA, a human rights group based in Andalusia, and a joint statement released by five rights organizations in Morocco also called for inquiries

MADRID: Human rights organizations in Spain and Morocco have called on both countries to investigate the deaths of at least 18 Africans and injuries suffered by dozens more who attempted to scale the border fence that surrounds Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa.
Moroccan authorities said the casualties occurred when a “stampede” of people tried to climb the iron fence that separates Melilla and Morocco. In a statement released Friday, Morocco’s Interior Ministry said 76 civilians were injured along with 140 Moroccan security officers.
Local authorities cited by Morocco’s official MAP news agency said the death toll increased to 18 after several migrants died in the hospital. The Moroccan Human Rights Association reported 27 dead, but the figure could not immediately be confirmed.
The association also shared videos on social media that appeared to show dozens of migrants lying on the ground, many of them motionless and a few bleeding, as Moroccan security forces stood over them.
“They were left there without help for hours, which increased the number of deaths,” the human rights group said on Twitter. It called for a “comprehensive” investigation.
In another of the association’s videos, a Moroccan security officer appeared to use a baton to strike a person lying on the ground.
In a statement released late Friday, Amnesty International expressed its “deep concern” over the events at the border.
“Although the migrants may have acted violently in their attempt to enter Melilla, when it comes to border control, not everything goes,” Esteban Beltrán, the director of Amnesty International Spain, said. “The human rights of migrants and refugees must be respected and situations like that seen cannot happen again.”
APDHA, a human rights group based in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia, and a joint statement released by five rights organizations in Morocco also called for inquiries.
A spokesperson for the Spanish government’s office in Melilla said that around 2,000 people had attempted to make it across the border fence but were stopped by Spanish Civil Guard Police and Moroccan forces on either side of the border fence. A total 133 migrants made it across the border.


Iranian girl, 4, dies after being left in car under summer sun

Iranian girl, 4, dies after being left in car under summer sun
Updated 25 June 2022

Iranian girl, 4, dies after being left in car under summer sun

Iranian girl, 4, dies after being left in car under summer sun
  • Parents forgot the girl due to ‘stress’ about the funeral they were attending

LONDON: A 4-year-old Iranian girl has died after her parents left her in their car for hours while they attended a funeral service, local government officials reported.

The child, whose forename Sadia has been released, traveled with her family to Ramhormoz, a city in the east of the country, as temperatures hit 49 degrees Celsius.

Her parents allegedly left her in the car for the entire service because she fell asleep on the way to the funeral.

Local media reported that they forgot about her because they were “stressed” about the funeral.

Dr. Gholamreza Haidarnejad, from the city’s forensics department, said Sadia died from heat stroke and suffocation, which was complicated by stress. A police investigation has been launched.


EU’s Borrell says Iran nuclear talks to resume in coming days

EU’s Borrell says Iran nuclear talks to resume in coming days
Updated 25 June 2022

EU’s Borrell says Iran nuclear talks to resume in coming days

EU’s Borrell says Iran nuclear talks to resume in coming days
  • France urged Tehran to take advantage of Borrell’s visit to restore the pact while it remained possible

DUBAI: Talks on reviving the Iran nuclear deal will resume in the coming days, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Saturday during a visit to Tehran.
“We will resume the talks on the JCPOA in the coming days,” Borrell told a news conference in the Iranian capital, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. 

Borrell met Iran’s top diplomat on Saturday, Iranian state TV reported, as the bloc seeks to break an impasse between Tehran and Washington over reinstating a nuclear pact.
The United States said earlier in June it was awaiting a constructive response from Iran on reviving the 2015 deal — under which Iran restricted its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions — without “extraneous” issues.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian last week called on Washington, which exited the deal and then imposed crippling sanctions on Tehran during the Trump administration in 2018, to “be realistic.”
It appeared on the brink of revival in March when the EU, which is coordinating negotiations, invited ministers to Vienna to seal it after 11 months of indirect talks between Tehran and President Joe Biden’s administration.
But the talks have since been bogged down, chiefly over Tehran’s insistence that Washington remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), its elite security force, from the US Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list.
Two officials, one Iranian and one European, told Reuters ahead of Borrell’s trip that “two issues including one on sanctions remained to be resolved,” comments that Iran’s foreign ministry has neither denied nor confirmed.
France, a party to the deal, on Friday urged Tehran to take advantage of Borrell’s visit to restore the pact while it remained possible.


Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in West Bank: Palestinian sources

Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in West Bank: Palestinian sources
Updated 25 June 2022

Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in West Bank: Palestinian sources

Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in West Bank: Palestinian sources
  • Mohammad Hamad, 16, was shot and wounded near the village of Silwad

RAMALLAH: A Palestinian teenager died from his wounds hours after being shot by Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian sources said Saturday.
Mohammad Hamad, 16, was shot and wounded on Friday evening near the village of Silwad, near Ramallah in the northern West Bank, and died hours later, a Silwad councillor told AFP. The Israeli military did not immediately comment.
The teenager was near a road leading to the neighboring settlement of Ofra when he was wounded by Israeli soldiers, the councillor said.
His death comes amid a spike in Israeli-Palestinian violence.
Nineteen people, mostly Israeli civilians — including 18 inside Israel and a Jewish settler — have been killed in attacks by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs since late March.
Israeli security forces have responded with raids inside Israel and in the West Bank in which three Israeli Arab attackers and at least 46 Palestinians have been killed.
Among those killed were suspected militants but also non-combatants, including an Al Jazeera journalist who was covering a raid in Jenin.