Violence at Spanish enclave sparks fear of worse to come

Violence at Spanish enclave sparks fear of worse to come
A member of the Moroccan security forces checks on the border fence separating Morocco from Spain’s North African Melilla enclave, near Nador in Morocco. (AFP)
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Updated 27 June 2022

Violence at Spanish enclave sparks fear of worse to come

Violence at Spanish enclave sparks fear of worse to come

NADOR, Morocco: A massive attempt by migrants to storm the barrier between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla resulted in “unprecedented violence” that killed at least 23 sub-Saharan Africans and has sparked fears of worse to come.

“It was like a war, we were holding rocks, little rocks, to fight,” said a 20-year-old Sudanese migrant at a detention center inside Melilla.

“I climbed up the fence but a Moroccan guard hit my hands. I fell unconscious on the Spanish side, where I was beaten up by Spanish forces,” said another.

They were among 2,000 migrants who on Friday stormed the heavily fortified border between the Moroccan region of Nador and the enclave of Melilla.

At least 23 migrants died and 140 police officers were wounded, according to Moroccan authorities — the heaviest toll in years of such attempts.

Many of the migrants, often from war-torn zones such as Sudan’s Darfur region, have spent months or even years under precarious, dangerous conditions in the nearby forest of Gourougou, braving beatings and arrests in multiple attempts to reach better lives in Spain.

But observers said the latest attempt was unprecedented in the level of violence.

“It’s the first time that we see this level of violence by migrants themselves against security forces,” said Omar Naji from the Nador office of the AMDH rights group.

The violence has heightened fears among Moroccans in the area.

“We’re terrorized by what happened,” said Issame Ouaaid, 24, from the border district of Barrio Chino.

“It’s the first time that we’ve seen migrants carrying iron rods to fight with the police.”

Naji linked the level of violence to a recent mending of ties between Spain and Morocco, leading to renewed cooperation against migrants and stricter enforcement.

Morocco, the only African country sharing a land border with the EU, is a key conduit for migrants fleeing war and poverty.

But the kingdom has also been accused — by Spain — of using migration flows as a tool to exert political pressure.

In May 2021, some 10,000 migrants surged across the border into Spain’s other enclave, Ceuta, as Moroccan border guards looked the other way, in what was widely seen as a punitive gesture by Rabat in a political row over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

The two countries’ resumption of ties earlier this year after a convergence on Western Sahara has led to “an intensification of pressures” against migrants living rough in the forested hills near the border, Naji said.

Recent months have seen a fall in the numbers of migrants reaching Spanish territory, according to Madrid.

“The Moroccan authorities treat migrants very harshly, raiding their camps,” Naji said.

“There’s no doubt that this pressure has generated the unprecedented violence we’re seeing.”

Before Friday’s incident, Spanish media reported several clashes between migrants and security forces, who had chased away residents of camps and transferred some away from the border region.

For Othmane Ba, president of an association for sub-Saharan African migrants in Morocco, “the difficult conditions these migrants are facing condition them psychologically for violence.”

A majority of migrants arriving in Morocco are originally from Sudan, particularly the Darfur region where a new spike in violence has left 125 people dead and 50,000 displaced.

On their way to Morocco, many pass through Libya, notorious for rights abuses by armed groups against migrants.

Once they arrive in Morocco, many are willing to risk their lives to reach Europe.

“There are people here who have been waiting for two or three years” to get across, Naji said.

Moroccan authorities said Sunday they had foiled a plot by migrants to cross the border into Ceuta, making 59 arrests.

But, Naji said, “Morocco can’t totally close its borders and play the role of police force for Europe. That policy can only lead to more violence.”


Egypt to release 25 pretrial detainees: report

Egypt to release 25 pretrial detainees: report
Updated 9 sec ago

Egypt to release 25 pretrial detainees: report

Egypt to release 25 pretrial detainees: report

CAIRO: Egypt will release 25 pretrial detainees pending investigations on Wednesday, according to a member of the Presidential Pardon Committee. 

The group of pretrial detainees are to be released within around 24 hours, said Tarek El-Kholy, as quoted by Ahlam Online.   

This will be the latest batch of pretrial detainees released pending investigations.

The Presidential Pardon Committee is mandated to review the cases of pretrial detainees for political crimes.

El-Kholy previously noted in an interview with The Africa Report that only individuals who have not participated in violent acts or killed military personnel or civilians will be considered for pardon.  

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi re-affirmed on several occasions that Egypt holds no political prisoners and that the government promotes respect for human rights.


Attacks on Iranian clerics, fueled by public anger, on the rise: Report

Attacks on Iranian clerics, fueled by public anger, on the rise: Report
Updated 30 min 1 sec ago

Attacks on Iranian clerics, fueled by public anger, on the rise: Report

Attacks on Iranian clerics, fueled by public anger, on the rise: Report
  • Attacks on Iranian clerics have been fueled by public disdain over suffocating restrictions on public life and the dire economic conditions

Attacks on Iranian clerics, fueled by public disdain over suffocating restrictions on public life and the dire economic conditions, have been on the rise in Iran in recent years, according to Iranian daily Radio Farda. 

Iran has reported several incidents of physical attacks of clerics, with many religious officials saying they no longer wear their robes or turbans in public to avoid being targeted, Radio Farda reported. 

Two-dozen clerics were violently attacked in the past decade, out of which three were killed and two were blinded, according to Radio Farda. 

Recent attacks have also targeted low-level clerics who have attempted to enforce strict religious codes in public such as the hijab rule, the report added. 

Many Iranians can no longer tolerate clerics who impose “their reactionary lifestyle on others,” Radio Farda cited Tehran-based dissident cleric Abolfazl Najafi-Tehrani as saying. 

“In recent years, we have witnessed people’s hatred and anger towards particularly those clerics who follow state policies,” Najafi-Tehrani said, adding that a governing system based on religion and its interference in the daily lives of people has sparked resentment towards the religious officials. 

According to the report, Iranians are also angry over the fact that a large sum of the state’s budget continues to be spent on seminaries – despite crippling US sanctions that have plunged hundreds in the country into poverty. 

Countrywide protests are proof that Iranians “demand the withdrawal of the clerics and the noninterference of religion and religious representatives in the state,” Najafi-Tehrani said. 


Germany and Israel condemn Palestinian president’s Holocaust remarks

Germany and Israel condemn Palestinian president’s Holocaust remarks
Updated 40 min 43 sec ago

Germany and Israel condemn Palestinian president’s Holocaust remarks

Germany and Israel condemn Palestinian president’s Holocaust remarks
  • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of committing ‘50 Holocausts’
  • His comment followed months of tension and a brief conflict this month during which 49 people were killed in Gaza

BERLIN/JERUSALEM: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz voiced disgust on Wednesday at remarks by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the German leader said diminished the importance of the Holocaust, while Israel accused Abbas of telling a “monstrous lie.”
“For us Germans in particular, any relativization of the singularity of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable,” Scholz tweeted on Wednesday. “I am disgusted by the outrageous remarks made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.”
During a visit to Berlin on Tuesday, Abbas accused Israel of committing “50 Holocausts” in response to a question about the upcoming 50th anniversary of the attack on the Israeli team at the Munich Olympics by Palestinian militants.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid also condemned the comments as a “disgrace.”
“Mahmoud Abbas accusing Israel of having committed ‘50 Holocausts’ while standing on German soil is not only a moral disgrace, but a monstrous lie,” Lapid said on Twitter.
“History will never forgive him.”
Six million Jews were killed in Nazi Germany’s Holocaust.
Standing alongside Scholz, Abbas referred to a series of historical incidents in which Palestinians were killed by Israelis in the 1948 war that accompanied the creation of the state of Israel and in the years following.
“From 1947 to the present day, Israel has committed 50 massacres in Palestinian villages and cities, in Deir Yassin, Tantura, Kafr Qasim and many others, 50 massacres, 50 Holocausts,” said Abbas.
The official Palestinian news agency Wafa did not include the Holocaust comments in its report of the meeting with Scholz, and the Palestinian foreign ministry said Lapid’s comments were intended to divert attention from Israel’s “crimes.”
In a statement, the ministry said “the occupying power is not satisfied with committing these crimes on a daily and continuous basis, but also does not tolerate and rejects any talk or statements that remind the Israelis and the international community of the many crimes committed by Israel.”
Abbas’ comment followed months of tension and a brief conflict this month during which 49 people were killed in Gaza after Israel carried out a series of air strikes in response to what it said was an imminent threat from the militant Islamic Jihad group, which fired over 1,000 rockets in response.
Dozens of Palestinians have also been killed in clashes with Israeli security forces in the occupied West Bank, while there have been a number of attacks on Israelis, including an incident on Sunday when eight people were wounded on a bus carrying Jewish worshippers in Jerusalem.
Palestinians seek statehood in territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. Negotiations have been frozen since 2014.


Oman hospital carries out cardio first on 2 patients

Oman hospital carries out cardio first on 2 patients
Updated 17 August 2022

Oman hospital carries out cardio first on 2 patients

Oman hospital carries out cardio first on 2 patients

MUSCAT: A medical team at the Cardiac Centre in Salalah, Oman have transplanted two Watchman devices for elderly patients suffering recurrent thrombosis due to atrial fibrillation, the Oman News Agnecy reported.

It is the first time the heart implants used for patients have been fitted to a patient in the governorate of Dhofar, Oman, explained Dr Said Musallam Al Ma’ashani, Director of the Cardiology and Surgery Centre.

Previous operations for people in the country have either been taken abroad or to the Royal Hospital in Muscat.


Palestinian cause ‘alive and well’ in Kuwait: Minister 

Palestinian cause ‘alive and well’ in Kuwait: Minister 
Updated 17 August 2022

Palestinian cause ‘alive and well’ in Kuwait: Minister 

Palestinian cause ‘alive and well’ in Kuwait: Minister 
  • His comments came after holding a meeting with Kuwait’s Ambassador to Jordan and Palestine Aziz Al-Dihani

AMMAN: The Palestinian cause is “alive and well in the hearts of the leaders, government and people of Kuwait,” the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) cited Palestine’s Minister of Awqaf and Religious Affairs Sheikh Hatem Al-Bakri as saying. 
His comments came after holding a meeting with Kuwait’s Ambassador to Jordan and Palestine Aziz Al-Dihani on Tuesday. 
“The State of Kuwait is keen on supporting the Palestinian political leadership in their quest to establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital,” the minister said. 
The meeting reviewed matters related to the Awqaf ministry and service sectors, with a focus on the support from Kuwaiti charitable organizations to the Palestinian people, KUNA reported. 
Ambassador Al-Dihani said Kuwait strongly believes in the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights to independence and maintains its support of Palestine on the regional and international scale.