Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1160, (15 - 21 August 2013)
Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Issue 1160, (15 - 21 August 2013)

Ahram Weekly

Morocco to Murcia

Morocco to Murcia
Morocco to Murcia
Al-Ahram Weekly

A royal pardon by Moroccan King Mohamed VI simultaneously confounded and infuriated his subjects. The controversy surrounding a convicted Spanish pedophile, arrested in Murcia, Spain, after being mistakenly freed by royal decree from jail in Morocco galvanised the Moroccan press as thousands took to the streets in protest. Daniel Galvan Vina, the Spanish rapist of Iraqi origin, was detained in the region of Murcia in south-east Spain after his Moroccan royal pardon was revoked and was summarily sent back into custody by a court in Madrid. The gruesome topic was debated in detail in Moroccan and other Arab newspapers.

Moroccan pundits pointed accusing fingers at the Islamist government that rules Morocco. “There are many lessons to be drawn from the tragic pardoning of the Spanish pedophile. The Spanish media had a field day when it discovered that the Islamist government in Morocco left the king in the dark,” lamented Abdallah Al-Baqui in the Moroccan newspaper Al-Alam.

Walid Choucair, writing in the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, raised hopes that a new Iran would emerge under the leadership of the newly inaugurated Iranian president. “The expressions chosen by Iran’s new president, Hasan Rohani, in his inaugural speech Sunday, and a news conference on Tuesday, were very precise,” noted Choucair.

“Rohani, a seasoned diplomat described as rational, chose his terms carefully in presenting himself to Iranians and the rest of the world. He spoke of ‘moving away from delusion’ and ‘balancing between principles and reality’, and described the moderate approach he would be bringing to the presidency as ‘rationally moving away from extremism’,” Choucair quoted Rohani as saying.

Meanwhile, events in Syria predominated. The Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal, politically aligned to the Sunni Muslim-dominated 14 March Coalition, reported the assassination in Lebanon of a mayor of a provincial mountain stronghold near the border with Syria. The report highlighted how the civil war in Syria had worsened enmity between Lebanese Shia and Sunni Muslim militias that support opposing sides of the two-year-old Syrian civil war.

“Mayor Ali Hujeiri, a Sunni from the town of Arsal, in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley close to the Syrian border, was shot in the majority Shia town of Labweh,” Al-Mustaqbal observed.

The Bekaa Valley is religiously mixed. The region is ravaged by skirmishes between rival Shia and Sunni Muslim clans. Some areas are controlled by the Shia militant Islamist Hizbullah movement and paramilitary, enabling Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to crush the revolt. Other parts, like Arsal, are Sunni, and residents provide a safe haven for majority-Sunni Syrian rebels.

The Lebanese tabloid Al-Balad, associated with the United States-supported Lebanese 14 March, with a long history of hostility towards Palestinians, blamed Lebanon’s civil war on Palestinian refugees and linked the past with the present. The Lebanese daily An-Nahar concured with Al-Balad and published an article penned by Lebanese MP Nayla Tueni equally disparaging of the Palestinians. Tueni wrote in her family’s newspaper that the influx of Palestinian refugees from Syria in Lebanon “will lead us to find ourselves facing a new reality, and new settlers, and a new burden, returning to our memories of the Palestinian nightmare in Lebanon [in the 1970s]”.

“It is not enough that Lebanon is home to the Palestinians and their cause and bears burdens that exceed its capacity,” An-Nahar pontificated. “Lebanon is also forced to live with the presence of armed Palestinians in closed security islands that have become a haven for all types of extremism, terrorism and criminality.”

The Lebanese daily As-Safir highlighted the fighting in the Syrian coastal region surrounding the port city of Latakia. “War in the Latakia countryside in Syria holds special political and military dangers. But the battles there have been expanding between the Syrian army and a coalition of Islamist jihadist groups, in what may turn out to be a major milestone in the Syrian war,” noted Mohamed Ballout in As-Safir.

The critical situation in Syria has had ramifications on neighbouring Lebanon as reflected in the Lebanese papers. “Today, many types of crimes coexist in Lebanon, some of which are due to the mounting poverty and the social tensions accompanying it, while others are part of pure political violence. Yet, all of them come together to draw an alarming image for this country,” muses Hossam Itani in the London-based Al-Hayat.

Itani wrote in a scathing critique of the Lebanese political scene entitled ‘The country of why not?’ in which he exposed the duplicity of Lebanese politicians. And among the crimes that are seen more often nowadays are ones that can be described as “why not?” crimes, Itani muses.

“Why not carry out shootings using heavy machine guns between homes upon the return of the dead who were participating in the battles in Syria? And why not render the discovery of bullet-riddled corpses a daily event that is not worth mentioning in the media? This is not to mention the explosions, assassinations and silent security wars that are ongoing in Lebanon between known and unknown forces. This is happening at a time when the state apparatuses seem to have exited the control of the law, thus blatantly joining the system of sectarian-political loyalties and its mechanisms of hegemony,” Itani concluded.

Hussein Shobokshi, writing in the London-based pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat: “Several politicians and analysts are trying to look closely and accurately into the state of confusion, tension and failure that has characterised the experience of the ruling political groups and parties in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, ever since the outbreak of the Arab Spring revolutions. Perhaps the most important and dangerous trait that all these political groups share is their ‘exclusionary’ nature. They have failed to accommodate different segments of society and represent them all, particularly at a highly sensitive time following the violent and impassioned uprisings. These groups were once part of the opposition category themselves; practicing their activities in secret under the severe oppression of the previous regimes. As a result, once in power they took on a retaliatory form, further intensifying the state of fragmentation and fuelling mistrust within society,” Shobokshi extrapolates. “Islam’s discourse on politics in general is somewhat shallow. While we can find dozens of volumes and books on purity, worship and other issues, there are very few books on political fiqh, and a clear lack of scholarly consensus,” Shobokshi expounds.

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