Lebanese female candidates stand up to Hezbollah, are disowned by families

A youth sits underneath a giant billboard for the upcoming parliamentary election with text in Arabic reading
A youth sits underneath a giant billboard for the upcoming parliamentary election with text in Arabic reading "your vote on May 15 will nullify May 7" on display at the Martyrs' Square in the centre of Lebanon's capital Beirut on April 13, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 15 April 2022

Lebanese female candidates stand up to Hezbollah, are disowned by families

A youth sits underneath a giant billboard for the upcoming parliamentary election with text in Arabic reading "your vote on May 15 will nullify May 7" on display at the Martyrs' Square in the centre of Lebanon's capital Beirut on April 13, 2022. (AFP)
  • Among the competing lists is the Zahle for Sovereignty list backed by the Lebanese Forces, Hezbollah's arch-rival. The list bears the slogan: “Restoring sovereignty, liberating decision making, and direct confrontation with Hezbollah”

BEIRUT: A total of 155 female candidates from different sects are contesting the Lebanese parliamentary elections scheduled for May 15.

The only Shiite female candidate on the lists of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement is MP Inaya Ezzeddine. The remaining Shiite female candidates are trying to win seats previously secured by the Shiite duo.

Choosing Ezzeddine to represent parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and the Amal Movement four years ago, in the 2018 parliamentary elections, was a deliberate move to establish “the movement’s openness to the importance of women's role in public affairs,” as Berri said at the time.

But Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah was very clear on “not involving women in political life because, in Lebanon, MPs offer condolences, participate in weddings and provide services, and we in Hezbollah do not accept that our women carry out such duties.”

This year might be the first time that Shiite women from Hezbollah’s entourage have stood up to the party.

In the Baalbek-Hermel constituency, in northern Bekaa, six electoral lists are competing to win 10 parliamentary seats, including six for the Shiite sect.

One list includes Hezbollah and the Amal movement, another includes members of local clans. The others draw candidates from civil society movements that do not seem to be hostile toward Hezbollah as their programs do not have demands related to the fate of the party’s weapons.

But Sarah Mansour Zeaiter, a Shiite candidate running in the Baalbek-Hermel constituency under the Qadreen list, was subjected to verbal abuse and defamatory remarks from her family a few days ago.

The Zeaiter clan issued a statement explaining that she did not represent the family and that the clan remained loyal to the current MP and candidate for the upcoming elections Ghazi Zeaiter.

The statement does not mention that Ghazi Zeaiter is a defendant in the probe into the Beirut port blast.

In the Zahle constituency, in central Bekaa, eight lists are competing to win seven seats, including one Shiite seat.

Among the competing lists is the Zahle for Sovereignty list backed by the Lebanese Forces, Hezbollah's arch-rival. The list bears the slogan: “Restoring sovereignty, liberating decision making, and direct confrontation with Hezbollah.”

It means that any Shiite candidate on this list is in an unenviable position, which is what happened with the candidate Dr. Dima Abou Daya, who was disowned by the Abou Daya family in a statement issued a few days ago.

Abou Daya, 41, a university professor who specializes in law and business, conducts training on anti-corruption and money-laundering and is involved in women’s empowerment activities in Lebanon.

She said her decision to run for the parliamentary elections was bold because people were deprived of their voices in Lebanon.

“Running for the elections is a right secured by the constitution and I have the guts to exercise my freedom of opinion protected by the constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” she told Arab News.

“Hezbollah and the Amal Movement have always monopolized the Shiite seat. It is the first time that a Shiite female candidate has run for this seat other than these two parties, which has been a challenge for them, especially since I call for sovereignty and patriotism.

“Not all the family was behind the disownment statement. They were led by someone who doesn’t belong to the family and who is affiliated with one of the political parties. Half of the statement was prepared in advance. The signatures were added later on and it was published on social media, which exposed me to a huge number of defamatory comments. It was also featured on the Al-Manar channel affiliated with Hezbollah and was published in many groups in Zahle.

“This encouraged me further to continue what I started, rather than give up and be afraid. It made me stick to my beliefs even more. What does it mean to be disowned by your family? Disownment in our society happens when you commit a crime or adultery. What did I commit?

“The logic they are fighting me with contradicts their talk about democracy. They do not practice what they preach. The statement indeed caused a rift in the family, but I rely on free voices rather than stolen voices.

“My decision to run as an independent candidate in a list supported by the Lebanese Forces is based on my personal beliefs. Moreover, its program reflects my views.”

Ali Al-Amin, the owner of the Janoubia website who opposes Hezbollah and had previously run for parliamentary elections in the previous session, was subjected to verbal and physical abuse.

“Any electoral movement that opposes Hezbollah bothers the party. They are expressing this by isolating the male and female independent candidates that oppose them, whether by imposing their ideological authority or security authority,” he told Arab News.

“Hezbollah, which is a closed sectarian party that promotes patriarchy, decided to resort to families and clans to exclude the female candidates, knowing that this party had previously neglected and broken up these clans and families and used them for their own benefit.

“At first, they started many online smear campaigns against me and then threatened me. Afterward, they beat me up. They can even lead their target to leave their community. You could also be murdered, like what happened to researcher Lokman Slim. They captivate the whole sect, kill and suffocate the society until it becomes obedient and meaningless, suffering from misery.”


UAE sends three planes of medical aid to Afghanistan

UAE sends three planes of medical aid to Afghanistan
Updated 02 July 2022

UAE sends three planes of medical aid to Afghanistan

UAE sends three planes of medical aid to Afghanistan
  • The dispatched field hospital includes 75 beds and two operating rooms

The UAE has sent three planes of medical supplies, including a 1,000 square-meter-field hospital, to aid the injured of Afghanistan's earthquake that killed over 1,000 people and wounded scores more, Emirates new agency (WAM) reported on Saturday.
The dispatched hospital includes 75 beds and two operating rooms equipped with medical supplies and devices, the WAM statement read.
The planes also carried 16 metric tonnes of equipment and a medical team to operate the hospital and provide urgent medical services.
The UAE earlier established an air bridge to transport aid in the wake of the disaster.
The relief efforts come as Afghan authorities reported a shortage of food, shelter and medical supplies for the victims of the country’s deadliest earthquake in decades.

Last week, the country dispatched a plane carrying 30 tons of urgent food supplies to Afghanistan as aid continued to pour in from different parts of the world.


Egypt seeks to attract more Italian tourists

Egypt seeks to attract more Italian tourists
Updated 02 July 2022

Egypt seeks to attract more Italian tourists

Egypt seeks to attract more Italian tourists
  • Minister holds talks with tourism chief during visit to Rome

CAIRO: Khaled El-Anany, Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, has held talks with Ivana Jelinic, president of the Federation of Italian Tourism Companies, as part of efforts to attract more Italian tourists to Egypt.

The meeting was held at the Egyptian Embassy in Rome during El-Anany’s visit to the Italian capital.

Egypt’s plans to attract more tourists from various markets, including Italy, were reviewed at the meeting, which also discussed organizing a number of introductory visits for leading Italian tour operators and media representatives.

These visits will include Sharm El-Sheikh and other tourist cities in South Sinai in preparation for the coming winter season.

Joint advertising campaigns in Italy were also discussed, amid a growing interest among Italians in Egyptian cities and tourist destinations.

 


Shiite cleric shot, wounded in central Iran

Shiite cleric shot, wounded in central Iran
Updated 02 July 2022

Shiite cleric shot, wounded in central Iran

Shiite cleric shot, wounded in central Iran
  • Mohsen Akhavan was targeted in the city of Isfahan
  • He was returning home after leading the morning prayer when the attack occurred

TEHRAN: A Shiite cleric in central Iran was injured on Saturday morning after an assailant on a motorcycle shot at him, Iranian state media said.
Mohsen Akhavan, who holds the clerical rank of hojatoleslam, was targeted in the city of Isfahan, according to the website of state broadcaster IRIB.
Akhavan, who was the imam of a mosque in the city, was returning home after leading the morning prayer when the attack occurred, IRIB reported.
The report added that the cleric, who had earlier been working at the Isfahan Islamic seminary, was “not seriously injured” and was being treated in hospital.
In early April, a Sunni extremist of Uzbek origin stabbed two Shiite clerics to death and injured a third in the courtyard of the main shrine of the northeastern holy city of Mashhad.
Abdolatif Moradi, 21, was hanged on June 20 in the same city after being convicted over the attack, according to the judicial authority.
Moradi “was accused of moharebeh (’war against God’, in Persian) using a weapon to terrorize the population in the shrine and even outside it,” judicial authorities said.
The attack in Mashhad came days after two Sunni clerics were shot dead outside a seminary in the northern Iranian town of Gonbad-e Kavus.
The three suspects in that case, also Sunnis, were arrested in late April but were said to have “no connection with terrorist groups,” state media reported at the time.


Iranian-flagged tanker in Greece tugged to Piraeus port

Iranian-flagged tanker in Greece tugged to Piraeus port
Updated 02 July 2022

Iranian-flagged tanker in Greece tugged to Piraeus port

Iranian-flagged tanker in Greece tugged to Piraeus port
  • For over two months Iranian-flagged Lana has been anchored off the Greek island of Evia

ATHENS: An Iranian-flagged tanker seized by Greece in April, part of whose cargo was confiscated by the United States, was being towed to the port of Piraeus on Saturday, Greek coast guard officials said, after Greek authorities approved its release.
For over two months the Iranian-flagged Lana, formerly Pegas, has been anchored off the Greek island of Evia in a diplomatic impasse which has strained Athens’ relations with Tehran amid growing tensions between Iran and the United States.
“It left Karystos at 0630 am (0330 GMT) and is expected to reach Piraeus around 1000 pm,” one official said.
Greek authorities in April impounded Lana and its oil cargo with 19 Russian crew members on board near the coast of Evia, due to sanctions following a legal action by the United States.
The ship was later released due to complications regarding its ownership, but part of the Iranian oil cargo had already been transferred to another ship, Ice Energy, which was hired by the United States and is moored off Piraeus port.
The removal of oil from the Lana prompted Iranian forces last month to seize two Greek tankers in the Arabian Gulf and sail them back to Iran after Tehran warned it would take “punitive action” against Athens.
Following an appeal by an Iranian company on June 7, a Greek judicial panel overturned the initial court order that allowed the confiscation of the cargo on behalf of the United States.
That decision has cleared the way for Lana to retrieve the cargo that was transferred to Ice Energy.
Until last week however Lana, which still has engine problems, was being detained by another company due to debts owed for towing services. It was officially released after the amount owed was paid off, legal sources told Reuters.


Israeli strike on Syria wounds two civilians: ministry

Israeli strike on Syria wounds two civilians: ministry
Updated 02 July 2022

Israeli strike on Syria wounds two civilians: ministry

Israeli strike on Syria wounds two civilians: ministry
  • Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria since the 2011 civil war
  • Last month Israeli strikes on Damascus International Airport rendered its runways unusable for weeks

An Israeli strike on Syria’s western coast wounded two civilians on Saturday, the Syrian defense ministry said.
“The Israeli enemy carried out an air strike” at about 6:30 am near the town of Al-Hamidiyah, the ministry said in a statement, identifying the locations hit as poultry farms, without elaborating.
The strike was conducted from the Mediterranean Sea, west of Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli, and “led to the injury of two civilians, including a woman,” the statement said.
Since the civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes against its northern neighbor.
The raids have targeted Syrian government troops as well as allied Iran-backed forces and fighters from the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah.
Last month Israeli strikes on Damascus International Airport rendered its runways unusable for weeks.
Besides the extensive damage caused to civilian and military runways, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said the strikes had targeted nearby warehouses used as weapons depots by Iran and Hezbollah.
The Syrian war has claimed the lives of nearly half a million people and forced around half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes.