January 31, 2010
Posted: 1153 GMT
Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) - Mourners buried a senior Hamas militant Friday after his recent death in Dubai - a death Hamas calls an "assassination."
Mahmoud al-Mabhouh as seen on a poster on a wall in the Gaza Strip town of Jabalia.
Mahmoud al-Mabhouh died in Dubai on January 20, said Izzat al Rishq, a Hamas member based in Syria.
Al-Mabhouh was a founding member of the military wing of Hamas, which blamed Israel for his death.
"We hold the enemy responsible for the assassination of Mahmoud Mabhouh," the militant wing said in an online statement. "The enemy will not escape punishment."
It said Al-Mabhouh was responsible for capturing two Israeli soldiers during the first intifada and named the pair: Sgt. Avi Sasportas and Cpl. Ilan Saadon
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said Sasportas was kidnapped on Feb. 16, 1989 and shot to death. His body was found in May 1989.
The ministry said the same Hamas terror cell that kidnapped Sasportas abducted Saadon on May 3, 1989. Saadon's body was discovered in 1996.
Government officials in Israel declined to comment on the militant wing's statement.
But the Emirates News Agency said authorities determined that the man was killed and were working with Interpol to hunt down alleged perpetrators thought to be part of a "criminal gang," some of whom have European passports.
Hamas said it is investigating the death and that it would publish details "in a timely manner."
Al-Mabhouh's brother, Fayek al-Mabhouh, said that preliminary results of Hamas' investigation show he was killed by electrocution and strangulation with a piece of cloth. Fayek said his brother had survived other assassination attempts. The Emirates News Agency report quoted a security source saying the gang had been tracking the victim.
It's not clear why he traveled to Dubai, but Fayek al-Mabhouh said his brother arrived at a Dubai hotel in charge of the Hamas mission.
His body was returned to Damascus on Thursday night and was buried after Friday prayers, Hamas officials in Gaza said.
CNN's Kevin Flower, Saad Abedine, Caroline Faraj, and Talal Abu Rahma contributed to this report
January 25, 2010
Posted: 1008 GMT
Beirut, Lebanon (CNN) - An Ethiopian airliner with 90 people aboard crashed into the Mediterranean Sea minutes after takeoff from Lebanon early Monday, authorities said.
Lebanese rescuers scan the sea as search operations continued off the Lebanese coast south of the capital Beirut on Monday.
Rescue crews had not found the wreckage, said Ghazi El Aridi, Lebanon's minister of public works and transportation.
The Ethiopian Airlines flight left Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut at 2:27 a.m. and was headed to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
It disappeared from radar a few minutes after takeoff, El Aridi said.
The Boeing 737-800 had 83 passengers: 54 Lebanese nationals, 22 Ethiopians, two British-Lebanese, an Iraqi, a Syrian, a Lebanese-Canadian, a Russian-Lebanese and a person from France, the minister said.
Among them was the wife of the French ambassador to Lebanon, said Anne Charlotte of the French embassy.
The plane also had seven crew members.
Authorities did not immediately know the cause of the crash.
The plane crashed about 3.5 km (2.1 miles) west of the town of Na'ameh. Naa'meh is 15 km (9 miles) south of Beirut.
Filed under: Lebanon
Posted: 713 GMT
Beirut, Lebanon (CNN) - An Ethiopian airliner with 90 people aboard crashed into the Mediterranean Sea minutes after takeoff from Lebanon early Monday, authorities said.
January 24, 2010
Posted: 1204 GMT
Ethiopian runner Haile Gebrselassie blew away the competition at the Dubai marathon. CNN's Cal Perry spoke to the winner.
Posted: 909 GMT
From the UAE newspaper The National
DOHA (The National) – At two and a half years old, Iqbal al Assaad taught herself to count from one to 10 in Arabic and English. At five, she was in the second grade alongside seven-year-olds. At the age of nine she passed standardised ninth grade tests for 14-year-olds with flying colours.
“My father said every year we’re going to do this, you’re going to skip one grade and go to the upper one, and it worked out,” said Iqbal, as if it were as easy as skipping rope.
Today she is a 16-year-old medical student at one of the most prestigious medical schools in the region, Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar. “Maybe other students don’t have this motivation, but I like to study,” she said. “Since I was very young I would go up to my father and ask him to teach me something new.”
That curiosity and a preternatural focus have Iqbal poised to become one of the youngest Arab doctors in modern times.
“It is extremely impressive to have her in class, a student so young and at the same time so mature and capable in handling a very challenging curriculum,” said Prof Marco Ameduri, a Weill Cornell physics professor who taught Iqbal in two premed courses in 2008.
Iqbal grew up in Bakaa, Lebanon, the youngest of four children. Her father ran a covenience shop and her mother ran the house, where studying became a point of pride. Her eldest sister, 25, is married, but hopes to return to university. Her eldest brother, 23, is completing his studies as a mechanical engineer, while the other is writing his master’s thesis in physics, at 20 years old.
The real prodigy is Iqbal – but she has not done it on her own. To help her pass that ninth-grade standardised test, Lebanon’s education minister wrote a letter authorising her to take the test. Soon after, Iqbal fell ill and her parents took her to a local physician.
“He didn’t give me enough time, he didn’t give enough attention to what I wanted to tell him about my sickness,” Iqbal recalled. “It didn’t have such a big impact with me but maybe in other cases, like in cancer patients, where the psychological plays a big role, if the doctor doesn’t treat that patient very well, there’s going to be an impact on the patient – that’s what drove me to become a doctor.”
Hearing of her dream, the Lebanese education minister helped Iqbal again, requesting assistance from the Qatari first lady, Sheikha Mozah bin Nasser al Missned, who oversees the Qatar Foundation, which runs Education City. Sheikha Mozah granted Iqbal a full scholarship to an undergrad program at Weill Cornell, then helped her move to Qatar with her mother in January 2006. Only 12 years old, Iqbal was not intimidated by an unfamiliar country, the vast campus or her much older classmates. She has never known classmates her own age, yet they have never rejected or troubled her.
“I don’t feel that I’m younger than my fellow students – since I was five years old I’ve been with students that are older than me, so I’ve got used to it,” she said. “My classmates have always had the ability to accept me as one of them, and that’s what has happened here at Weill Cornell.” During a recent interview at her Education City campus, she responded to a reporter’s questions eloquently and without haste or apparent anxiety.
“Just observing her interactions with other students, you would not know that she was younger,” said Prof Ameduri, who is also the assistant dean for student affairs. “In fact, I saw her as a student leader, bringing students together, forming study groups and things like that.”
Yet she is up to a decade younger than most of her class, which is set to graduate in the spring of 2013. Iqbal, however, plans to take a gap year, or perform research for a year, before returning to Weill Cornell to graduate and become a doctor in 2014.
Thus she is no threat to become the world’s youngest doctor, widely believed to be Balamurali Ambati, an Indian who in 1995 graduated from Mount Sinai School of Medicine two months shy of his 18th birthday. Still, after three years of undergraduate and premed studies, Iqbal began medical school last fall. She completed her first term last week, which she said was “very good”.
She looked forward to anatomy and human structure classes, and, down the line, conducting physical exams and working with real patients. She plans to be a surgeon, maybe a neurosurgeon.
“I can predict and expect a very brilliant career for her,” Prof Ameduri said. “She will be very successful in clinical care of her patients and in research, and someday I hope to see her back here.”
He will probably get his wish. “I feel responsible towards this country, Qatar, and I want to come back after I finish [medical school] to pay this country back,” Iqbal said, thanking Sheikha Mozah, the university and the Qatar Foundation.
Before leaving for term break, she reflected on her accomplishments. “I’m an example: I’m a woman, but still I made it,” she said. “If you have the motivation and you have the abilities, no one’s going to stop you, whether you’re a woman or a man.”
January 21, 2010
Posted: 903 GMT
From Inside the Middle East's January show.
London, England (CNN) - As a man whose vision of paradise is "some sort of library," Ismail Serageldin must sometimes feel like he works amid the Garden of Eden.
Exteriors of the new Biblioteca Alexandrina
Head of the library Ismail Serageldin shows off one of the BA's treasures – a hand-operated printer from 1825.
The 66-year-old Egyptian - who has authored more than 50 books on a variety of topics including biotechnology, rural development and sustainability - has become the first person in over 1,600 years to be officially named "Librarian of Alexandria."
But in 48 A.D. many of the ancient library's treasures were irrevocably lost after an accidental fire, and after falling into a gradual decline the once-famed library completely disappeared around 1,600 years ago, according to according to Biblioteca Alexandrina's Web site.
Despite the the library's commemorative reference to the past and the antiquated grandeur of Serageldin's title, Alexandria's library is unmistakably modern.
Serageldin's favorite artifacts relate, unsurprisingly, to the first printing press transported to Egypt: "From such modest beginnings, knowledge exploded, newspapers appeared, modern debate took place, translation movement occurred, and all of the modernization of Egypt started."
What's left of these ancient presses are on display including the oldest existing moveable letters in Arabic, the first page of the official journal where modern laws were first codified and a primitive machine for rolling prints one page at a time.
"The ancient library tried to have all the written books in the world," he explained. "Well, we have the digital memory of humanity by maintaining a complete copy of the Internet archive. And sooner or later other books will migrate to digital form." The Internet archive is stored copies of Web pages , taken at various points in time
Serageldin points out the extent of the library's other digital resources - such as its Virtual Reality Environment, an immersive system that allows researchers to transform two-dimensional data sets into 3-D simulations - and to step inside them.
When he turns to the issue of political and religious censorship, Serageldin's opinions are unambiguous: "I do not believe there is any justification for limiting access to knowledge."
The tri-lingual recipient of over 20 honorary doctorates relates how, when the library first opened in 2002, there was an expectation that he would ban books like Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses," which was the topic of some controversy in 1989.
At the time, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini - then Iran's spiritual leader - issued a fatwa calling for the death of Rushdie. The novel was considered blasphemous by some Muslims because of its fictional treatment of Mohammed.
"Western media people would ask me about censorship and so on. They asked me 'Can you possibly consider having "The Satanic Verses?"' Serageldin told CNN. "To which my answer was, 'Not only would I consider it, but I do have it, and it's in our catalogue and you can go and look it up.'"
As far as Serageldin is concerned, no subject is off limits: "We have books by Israeli authors, books about Israel, books about Zionism, books against the regime in Egypt. We have books that are frankly atheistic and aggressively so - Dawkins and Hitchins and so on - we have books that not just Muslims find offensive but that some other religions find offensive as well."
It is in this spirit of openness and tolerance that Ismail Serageldin finally casts his vision for the future of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
"Our mandate, our hope is to be able to provide all knowledge to all people at all times for free."
January 18, 2010
Posted: 659 GMT
January 16, 2010
Posted: 523 GMT
By Octavia Nasr
Arabs worried, wept, prayed and even had a moment of silence in honor of Haiti’s tragedy and its victims. My measurement came from Twitter as Arab media left much to be desired in that department.
Death tolls continue to rise from the devastating January 12 earthquake in Haiti.
In 140-character messages many Arabs on Twitter and other social media expressed their sadness over the tragedy and offered advice on donations and activism. Some were worried about friends who were in Port-au-Prince on business; they expressed their anguish to an audience that listened and tried to help. Later, a select few came back to express relief that they found their missing while others dipped in a larger pool of sadness.
This one in particular caught my attention. Someone with a distinctly Lebanese name asking another person inside Haiti about his relatives:
@ziadsaliby @RAMhaiti Hello sorry 4 disturbing u do u know annything about Fouad Abd or his family? he has a SM called emile abd market
When my colleague Jack Gray suggested that he should check with the Lebanese Foreign Ministry, Saliby didn’t need 140 characters to express his desperation and loneliness in this daunting process.
@ziadsaliby but lebanon doesn't provide any information... that's why were trying to find info sololy.
Sana Tawileh is a Lebanese mother and professional who is active on Twitter. After posting messages of concern, she came back with this message:
@SanaTawileh We finally got news, so glad that my friends in Haiti are safe!!! It's a real disaster there...Prayers for everyone in Haiti...
Tawileh organically took on the role of moderator on things “Haiti” for a small community of Tweeps that follows her updates. Among other things, she encouraged them to be active, make a difference and warned them of scams if they decide to donate money.
Tawileh is now in Muscat, Oman, where she wrote me, “Haiti is mentioned in the newspapers on the cover page; but no buzz on the subject.”
Tawileh, who describes herself as a “humanitarian” says that a group of her fellow Lebanese are interested in helping Haiti and she will try to assist them through her contacts in Haiti and in the United Nations. Her answer to why she volunteered her voice for Haiti she said, “I always shout out for humanity, for Lebanon, Palestine or Haiti. It’s not political, it's just Human.”
A young Sudanese peace activist reached out to me to tell me what his group is doing to help people in Haiti.
Mohab El Shorbagi (@Mohabkady) serves as Peace mediator and the Secretary-General of the U.N. Youth Club. He is now in Raffah to assist in a “relief mission to Gaza and to promote the Arabic Text of poems by Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire.” He says he’s coordinating with other members of his group around the world to head to Haiti within the next few days to focus on children.
With his other group, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, he will be organizing a blood drive around the Middle East especially for Haiti. The absence of an official response to the devastation in Haiti does not stop him from being appreciative of the west. “I should like to think that such a genuine and well-founded reverence for life corresponds to the Western people intrinsic nature” he said in his message to me. He does not hide his disappointment with Arab countries that “lack strategy and unification” he says. So, he takes it upon himself to take action and he feels that his role at the UN affords him that luxury.
As far as the official actions on the ground, here is what we could gather today:
Jordan loaded a military plane with canned foods and bid farewell to a medical team heading to Haiti. Prince Rashid Bin Al Hassan, head of Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization said the following, "We, in Jordan and under His Majesty's directives, join the international community in expressing our sympathy to the people of Haiti. And we, as the Hashemite Charitable Organization of the Jordanian Armed Forces, will take our part in the international effort to bring aid to the people of Haiti, as we have done all over the world whenever we have been asked to do so."
We learned from a local news agency that Qatar sent a plane loaded with 50 tons of humanitarian aid.
According to a news item in local media, the United Arab Emirates head of state, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has ordered that his country’s Red Crescent start a humanitarian aid bridge to assist the Republic of Haiti and “lend a helping hand to the victims.” The report also said that Sheikh Khalifa has directed the Red Crescent to work with the various charities in the country to determine the kind of aid they will be contributing.
Right now, more than 48 hours after the devastating earthquake struck the Island of Haiti, the only official Arab reaction came from Lebanon where Prime Minister Saad Hariri expressed his nation’s “solidarity with quake-stricken Haiti” and pledged to “contribute to international aid.” In a statement Hariri said, "This human tragedy pushes us to comfort Haiti’s people and participate in international efforts to remove the traces of the disaster."
With the exception of Lebanon’s print media which for the most part highlighted Haiti on front pages, Arab media made modest mentions of the devastation and human tragedy. On larger channels such as the Doha-based Al-Jazeera and the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya, the earthquake and its aftermath were dealt with as a news item alongside regional and international developments. In Jordanian newspapers, the death of three Jordanian Peacekeepers was the headline introducing the Haitian tragedy. A similar case in Tunisia which lost one national who worked for the UN in Port-au-Prince.
As for Arabs on Twitter and other social media, they continue to try to help as they move on in their daily routines.
On the discrepancy in Lebanon’s reaction versus the rest of the Arab world, Sana Tawileh believes a sense of “Freedom” is leading Haiti’s official and public expression of support in Lebanon. While Mohab El Shorbagy is not counting on any officials to act let alone tell him what to do. He’s just confident that he’s heading to Haiti to help first hand. In our exchange, he quoted Nobel Peace Laureate Albert Schweitzer to express how he really feels:
@Mohabkady: "whenever a man turns he can find someone who needs his service & Arab leaders turn to staying in power 4 a long time.”
January 13, 2010
Posted: 424 GMT
(CNN) - Tensions between Israel and Turkey spilled into a second day Tuesday when Turkish officials summoned the Israeli ambassador to a meeting, Turkey's Anatolia news agency reported.
Israel criticized Turkey Monday for a Turkish television series that it said depicted Israeli intelligence agents as baby-snatchers.
When asked about Tuesday's meeting between Israeli Ambassador Gabby Levy and Turkish officials, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said it was pre-planned.
That session came one day after Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon summoned the Turkish ambassador to complain about the television show that Israel found offensive, a spokesman for Ayalon said.
Afterward, Ayalon tweeted that he had "Told Turk Amb that this is an intolerable situation which endangers the Jewish community, the Israel envoys and tourists coming to Turkey."
Several senior Israeli Foreign Ministry sources, who didn't want to be named because it would jeopardize their jobs, criticized Ayalon's treatment of Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Oguz Celikkol at the start of their meeting Monday. At the session, Celikkol was seated below Ayalon.
With cameras rolling, Ayalon turned to the television crews and said, "The main thing is that you see that he is seated low and that we are high ... that there is one flag on the table (the Israeli flag) and that we are not smiling."
The sources told CNN they were "surprised by Ayalon's undiplomatic behavior."
Ceylon Ozen, spokeswoman for the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv, told CNN that Celikkol felt his treatment was "unacceptable, shocking and primitive," and did not comply with standards for diplomacy. He has contacted the Israeli ambassador to Turkey and requested a formal apology from the Israelis, she said.
There had been media speculation that Ayalon's summons was designed to sabotage a trip to Ankara Sunday by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. A spokesman for Ayalon said that was "completely wide of the mark."
Barak's office said he had no plans to cancel his trip. Read full article
January 8, 2010
Posted: 1630 GMT
Archiving thousands of documents is key to restoring Iraq's cultural heritage, as CNN's Diana Magnay finds out.
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