Grand Mufti motivates Sunni votes in Lebanon during Eid sermon

Special Grand Mufti motivates Sunni votes in Lebanon during Eid sermon
People walk outside a mosque during Eid Al-Fitr prayers, in Beirut, Lebanon May 2, 2022. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 02 May 2022

Grand Mufti motivates Sunni votes in Lebanon during Eid sermon

Grand Mufti motivates Sunni votes in Lebanon during Eid sermon
  • Derian: ‘Participate in elections and do not allow the return of corrupt officials’
  • Mikati offers hope for Lebanon to rapidly recover through ‘positive cooperation’

BEIRUT: Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel Latif Derian has used his Eid Al-Fitr sermon to warn Sunnis against the danger of abstaining from participating in the upcoming parliamentary elections in Lebanon on May 15.

In an address held at Al-Amin Mosque in the heart of Beirut, he told a crowd that included several Sunni candidates that “abstaining is the magic formula for corrupt people to come to power.”

His warning comes after international observers said that Sunnis abstaining from the vote will allow the “growing influence of Hezbollah and its allies from the Sunni sect, through the winning of the party’s loyalists or its allies.The lower the turnout to the elections, the easier it becomes for Hezbollah to win in the Sunni areas.”

Derian’s remarks came as Eid Al-Fitr was celebrated amid a crippling financial hardship that has plagued the whole country. 

President Michel Aoun tweeted his greetings on the Islamic holiday: “May those with good converge toward the supreme interest of the nation to reach safety.”

He added: “Let this feast be an invitation to all to rise above immediate interests and realize national hopes and ambitions for the advancement and recovery of our homeland.”

Prime Minister Najib Mikati wished for “Lebanon to recover as fast as possible through everyone’s efforts and positive cooperation, as this is the only choice.”

He added: “The repetition of mistakes is a crime, and the worst crimes are the ones committed against the homeland, under the pretext of defending it.”

Derian, the highest authority in Sunni Islam in the country, spoke on Monday on the grounds that “the enthusiasm of Sunnis in voting is declining” due to “people’s disgust from the ruling class and the poverty it led to,” an official in Dar Al-Fatwa told Arab News.

They added: “The ‘Future Movement’ and its loyalists are some of the people abstaining from voting, despite former Prime Minister Saad Hariri not demanding boycotting the elections. However, they related to his decision for the movement to abstain from participating in the elections, on the level of candidacy and endorsement of candidates. They decided to abstain from voting due to their lack of conviction in Hariri’s replacements.”

Hariri’s decision led to most of his parliamentary bloc — with 19 seats — not contesting the elections. Mikati and predecessors Fouad Siniora and Tammam Salam, as well as former Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk, also decided not to run for the elections.

The official said: “Hunger does not distinguish between sects and regions. We are united by our suffering from worsening crises and united by the national will to change our situation and overcome collapse and failure, thus achieving what we aspire to be, a state bearing a message and linked by genuine friendship with the Arab brothers who stood by Lebanon and the Lebanese people in the most difficult circumstances.”

Derian harshly criticized the authorities and described the situation as “very severe and harmful.”

He added: “They try to make the abuser a well-doer and the criminal a hero, elevating the useless to the highest levels of praise and honor. They are the ones who transformed Lebanon into a failed state begging for water, electricity and bread.”

He added: “None of those useless ones has the courage to admit what their dirty hands committed from corruption and ill-gotten money. They classify themselves as angels and saints in order to return to the crime scene again, and they inflict corruption. Beware of their deceptive and misleading statements.”

Derian stressed that “change and choice cannot be achieved from afar, nor by wishing. Those are achieved by massive active participation and speaking the truth on the ballot. Choosing the parliament’s members is the start of the desired reform. In national action, despair is not permitted, as it is surrendering to failure and corruption, suicide and death.”

He asked: “Why do some candidates think that people are sheep threatened by force, even if they are hungry or scared? Social and humanitarian crises are only solved by the government and capable and effective state institutions.”


Israeli forces kill Palestinian in West Bank clashes, medics say

Israeli forces kill Palestinian in West Bank clashes, medics say
Updated 59 min 17 sec ago

Israeli forces kill Palestinian in West Bank clashes, medics say

Israeli forces kill Palestinian in West Bank clashes, medics say
  • Witnesses said the clashes erupted when Israeli forces arrived to guard Jewish worshipers visiting Joseph’s Tomb
  • Palestine Red Crescent: Four Palestinians were shot and one of them was killed

JERUSALEM: Israeli forces killed a Palestinian in predawn clashes in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday, Palestinian medics said. The Israeli army said he was armed and shooting at soldiers, something the Palestinians denied.
Witnesses said the clashes erupted when Israeli forces arrived to guard Jewish worshipers visiting Joseph’s Tomb, a Jewish shrine that has been a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Four Palestinians were shot and one of them, an 18-year-old, was killed, the Palestine Red Crescent said. At least 30 Palestinians were wounded in all.
Later in the day, in a separate development, Israeli security forces raided seven non-governmental organizations in the West Bank, confiscating computers and equipment before sealing off the entrances, Palestinian witnesses and officials said.
This followed a decision by Israel to designate the groups as terrorist organizations, accusing them of funneling donor aid to Palestinian militants, a move that has drawn criticism from the United Nations and human rights watchdogs. The designation was ratified on Wednesday.
Nine European Union states have said they would continue working with the groups, citing a lack of evidence for the Israeli accusation.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz reiterated Israel’s position that the organizations had operated undercover to serve the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which has carried out deadly attacks on Israelis and is on US and EU terrorism blacklists.
“They also assist in raising funds for the terrorist organization via a variety of methods that include forgery and fraud,” Gantz said.
Hussein Al-Sheikh, a senior official in the Palestinian Authority, said on Twitter that the “storming of civil work institutions ... is a dangerous escalation and is an attempt to silence the voice of truth and justice.”
“We will appeal to all official international bodies and human rights institutions to intervene immediately to condemn this occupier behavior and place pressure on them to reopen the institutions and to be able to exercise their activities freely,” Sheikh said.


Iranian activists stand with woman jailed over hijab rule in viral video 

Iranian activists stand with woman jailed over hijab rule in viral video 
A few days after the video was shared, Rashno disappeared. (Social Media)
Updated 18 August 2022

Iranian activists stand with woman jailed over hijab rule in viral video 

Iranian activists stand with woman jailed over hijab rule in viral video 
  • The video expresses their solidarity to Sepideh Rashno, the 28-year-old Iranian writer and artist who was arrested for refusing to wear a headscarf

A video posted online by a group of Iranian female activists supporting a woman, who was arrested for violating Iran’s mandatory hijab rule, has gone viral days after she was seen confessing to the crime allegedly under duress, Radio Farda reported on Wednesday. 

Prominent Iranian activist Masih Alinejad shared a video online on Aug. 16, in which she and other female activists recited a poem entitled ‘The Confession’ by an anonymous poet. 

 

The poem expresses their solidarity to Sepideh Rashno, the 28-year-old Iranian writer and artist who was arrested on June 15 after a video of her arguing with another woman over her refusal to wear a headscarf was posted online. 

Mooniter, the pseudonym of one of the female activists who participated in the video to support Rashno, said the poem was aimed at “raising the voices of women like Sepideh” and “women and people who have been taken hostage in Iran,” according to Radio Farda. 

Rashno was riding a bus in Tehran without a hijab when a stranger took a video of her and threatened to send it to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Radio Farda reported.  

A few days after the video was shared, Rashno disappeared. Iranian state television then aired a clip of Rashno’s “confession” on July 30 where she appeared to be in a poor physical state, the report added.

The 28-year-old had allegedly been beaten prior to appearing on TV and was later hospitalized immediately after confessing to breaking the hijab law, according to reports.


Jordan authorities warn against indiscriminate gunfire over exam results

Jordan authorities warn against indiscriminate gunfire over exam results
Updated 18 August 2022

Jordan authorities warn against indiscriminate gunfire over exam results

Jordan authorities warn against indiscriminate gunfire over exam results

DUBAI:  Jordan’s Public Security Directorate (PSD) warned individuals against firing guns indiscriminately in celebration of exam results, state news agency Petra has reported.

The celebratory practice of discharging firearms, so-called ‘festive gunfire,’ is a persistent problem in Jordan and has led to serious injury and even fatalities as gravity causes the bullets fired in the air to descend at the same speed, hitting unsuspecting bystanders.

King Abdullah even described the tribal tradition as a “clear violation of the law and an act against the health and safety of society” in his Twitter account.

Estimates show that from 2013 to 2018, between 1,500 and 1,869 people were killed by stray bullets fired in celebration, while the injury rate was far higher.

Authorities have pledged “stricter control over celebratory gunfire and stated that anyone engaging in such conduct will be arrested,” state news agency Petra reported.

Warnings have also been issued against those engaging in serious traffic violations such as unlawful motorcades, hanging out of car windows and sunroofs and reckless driving to celebrate the release of the Tawjihi results.

Tawjihi is the country’s general secondary national examination for all students who plan to continue studying for their undergraduate and graduate degrees in Jordan. Students who pass are awarded the Tawjihi – Jordanian General Secondary School Certificate.

It’s when the exam results are issued that young people celebrate by driving with people leaning out of the windows and people firing guns.

In response the US embassy in Jordan has issued a safety alert highlighting these practices.

“As part of the celebrations expect congested traffic, more aggressive drivers, and celebratory gunfire. The results of the Tawjihi exams are often published with little or no warning.  Last year the results were published in the early morning,” its alert noted.

“US government personnel are advised to exercise caution and to take cover and move away from the area if they observe gunfire,” it added.

The diplomatic post also issued reminders to avoid public gatherings and festivities, increase awareness, review personal security protocols, or contact police authorities in face of immediate danger or threats.


Iranian activists planning to sue govt over COVID-19 response sentenced to prison

Iranian activists planning to sue govt over COVID-19 response sentenced to prison
Updated 18 August 2022

Iranian activists planning to sue govt over COVID-19 response sentenced to prison

Iranian activists planning to sue govt over COVID-19 response sentenced to prison
  • Iran has had the Middle East’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak, with 7,488,493 confirmed cases and 143,093 deaths so far, according to data from John Hopkins University

Several Iranian activists who had plans to sue government officials for its poor handling of the COVID-19 outbreak have been jailed, an appeals court in Iran’s capital city has confirmed. 

Known as “health defenders,” the activists were seeking to file legal charges against the government and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for mishandling the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines’ rollout, Radio Farda reported on Wednesday. 

Iran has had the Middle East’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak, with 7,488,493 confirmed cases and 143,093 deaths so far, according to data from John Hopkins University. 

Many Iranians also saw Khamenei’s ban on the import of vaccines from the US and Britain as a solely political move that led to thousands of preventable deaths, Radio Farda said. 

Security officers arrested five people in August 2021 for refusing to sign a letter pledging they would not sue Khamenei or other officials over the COVID-19 response, Radio Farda reported. 

Activist Mostafa Nili said the court had confirmed sentences against him and other activists before the group could file a suit against the government. 

The report added that Mehdi Mahmudian was jailed for four years and sentenced to two years of deprivation of media activity, while Arash KEykhosro was facing a jail term of two years and a one-year ban from advocacy and media activities. 

Mohammed Reza Faghihi was sentenced to six-months in prison and Maryam Afrafaraz was given a 995-day jail term. 

During a closed trial, the group was convicted of “colluding to commit crimes against national security,” Radio Farda said.


Kuwait approves measures to ensure transparent elections

Kuwait approves measures to ensure transparent elections
Updated 18 August 2022

Kuwait approves measures to ensure transparent elections

Kuwait approves measures to ensure transparent elections
  • Cabinet approved adding new precincts to four voting constituencies
  • Resolutions will be forwarded to Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for approval

Voters can use their national IDs to cast their ballot in Kuwait’s upcoming parliamentary elections, state news agency (KUNA) reported.  

The resolution was among new law-decrees of necessity adopted during a cabinet meeting that was held at Seif Palace on Wednesday.

Kuwait’s cabinet approved adding new precincts to four voting constituencies “based on geographic proximity and governorate affiliation,” said Minister of Justice and Minister of State for Integrity Enhancement Jamal Al-Jallawi in a statement to KUNA.

“The new measures aim to ensure transparent and legal elections that truly represent the will of the voters,” said Al-Jallawi.

Earlier this month, Kuwait had formally dissolved the parliament, with the Crown Prince Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah calling for early elections.

The cabinet’s recent resolutions will be forwarded to Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for approval, KUNA said.