Hot off the Arab Press

A short roundup of the latest Middle East news.

Spraypainted faces of Mubarak, Tantawi 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Amr Dalsh)
Spraypainted faces of Mubarak, Tantawi 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Amr Dalsh)
A MODEST CELEBRATION OF THE TUNISIAN REVOLUTION Al-Quds Al-Arabi editorial, London, January 14
The second anniversary of the Tunisian revolution was celebrated in muted tones Monday, amid concerns about the country’s economic and political future. Ousted president Zine El Abadine Ben Ali’s legacy of corruption is making it harder to solve Tunisia’s problems. The internal-political split between the liberal/secular parties and the religious ones threatens national unity and perhaps even the country’s stability. Nonetheless, the coalition between the Islamic Revolution movement and two liberal parties continues to hold up. The conflict between Salafi Muslims and the moderate Renaissance Movement over implementing Islamic Shari’a law in the country is intensifying. While the economic crisis is less dangerous than expected, 850,000 Tunisians are still unemployed, raising cause for concern but not pessimism over the Tunisian economy’s ability to recover.
While Turkey likes to portray itself as a secular country in the spirit of its late great leader Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, that image has been sullied by the actions of airport security personnel who must be taught to respect other people’s faiths, especially the Lebanese people. When a Lebanese Christian group returning from a pilgrimage to Bosnia recently was checked by security guards, they had Virgin Mary statues and crosses confiscated, the guards claiming they were not allowed inside the plane. The act only reflected current extreme religious Ottoman times, and the Lebanese tourists said such behavior was common. Some of the tourists are now shipping their statues and religious symbols to avoid the Turkish security check. Others said they plan to complain to the Turkish airline though they doubt Turkey will oppose such actions.
THE RETRIAL OF MUBARAK: IMPORTANT SIGNS Al Ahram daily editorial, Cairo, January 15
The decision of the Court of Cassation, Egypt’s highest appellate court, to retry former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak for financial corruption and killing protesters is of great importance. First it shows that the Egyptian judicial system has full independence to make its own decisions, is just and functions freely without pressure. Secondly, it shows Mubarak and his supporters are receiving a fair, transparent trial thanks to a constitution that guarantees defendants’ rights.
The decision also shows the current regime respects the law and does not mistreat its opponents, even though Mubarak would pressure military courts to issue harsh sentences against his opponents. The presidential decree appointing an investigative committee to examine the killings shows the president is governing wisely. State institutions and the people should do their job and reveal all evidence they have to the court to expose the truth for the sake of a better Egypt.
Protests in various Iraqi cities against Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s government, continuing for more than 20 days, made headlines Monday. A tribal leader criticized Al-Maliki in the Al Shorouq newspaper for what he called attempts to save the Iranian regime by closing three border crossings to import only Iranian goods. Responding to the protests, Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Hadi wrote in an article titled “Making enemies and losing friends” that terrorism, violence and corruption would exploit the chaos to simultaneously weaken the government and the people, adding that Iraqis should learn from previous experience. Opinion writers called for dialogue, suggesting a solution might be achieved by responding to some of the demonstrators’ demands. Others called for addressing the causes that led to the unrest, while Communist Party papers condemned Al-Maliki’s authoritarian rule.AN INITIATIVE FOR AN ARABIC WHATSAPP Al Quds daily, Jerusalem, January 14
The “Taghreedat” or “Tweets” campaign invited Arab volunteers to help Arabize the “WhatsApp” application, considered the top free instant messaging application in the world with 10 billion messages per day. The invitation said fewer than 10 volunteers helped translate the largest part of WhatsApp, but thousands of translators are being sought to help translate and suggest better translations for already translated parts of the application. The “Tweets” initiative, backed by Abu Dhabi media, included a message to Arabs living in European and American countries hoping to Arabize the digital world. The initiative has more than 120,000 followers on Twitter, and its projects included Arabizing Twitter in 2011, the Arabic Wikipedia and TED (Techology, Entertainment and Design) websites.