x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

No dual citizenship for officials

Jordan's plan to ban dual citizenship is good for the country, an Arabic-language pundit days. Other topics: arson at a mosque, the left in Egypt, and violence in Syria.

When Israelis torch mosques, it's just fine

Israeli settlers torched a mosque on Monday night in the village of Tuba-Zangria in the occupied Palestinian territory of Galilee, set copies of the Quran on fire and wrote racist anti-Arab and anti-Muslim graffiti on the building's interior walls.

Yet not a single condemnation came from the international community so far, wrote Abdelbari Atwan, the editor of the London-based Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper.

When an amateur pastor of a small church in Miami threatened last year to burn copies of the Quran, in a show of hate to Islam and Muslims, the US administration was quick to react and the Muslim world rose to its feet in anger. A shameful act of intolerance was aborted.

"But when it's Israeli settlers who torch a mosque and burn dozens of copies of the Quran," the editor said, "it becomes a perfectly normal and legitimate act, for Israelis are above all laws and are permitted what others are not."

Don't be fooled by Benjamin Netanyahu's condemnation of the crime or the "crocodile's tears" of Shimon Perez, the editor said. The prime minister and the president of Israel are most responsible for the continuous licensing of settlement building on confiscated Palestinian land.

Torching a village mosque is just a way to test the forcefulness of the Muslim reaction, before venturing to torch something bigger - like Al Aqsa Mosque.

New left emerges in Egypt after revolution

Since its emergence in the early years of the 20th century, the left in Egypt has never really succeeded in attracting a significant following, but now the youth of the 2011 Egyptian revolution appear to be giving the left a new meaning and a new life, noted Essam Al Khaffaji, an Iraqi writer, in the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat.

One of the key reasons for the old left's constant failure to achieve popularity among Egyptians was the social status of its leaders, most of whom were scions of pashas and other notable figures in the community.

Their graciousness in upholding the cause of the downtrodden was not enough to build strong bridges with the grassroots, the writer said.

But now, the young and new Egyptian left, which has played a critical role in the Egyptian revolution, is breaking with that past. "Consider these youths' definition of the left: for them it stands for democracy, pluralism, social equality … and the secular state. Note that they have lived all their lives under a regime that was antithetical to all these values," the writer added.

The new leaders of the Egyptian left are educated, lower to middle-class 20-somethings, who keep abreast of western ideas but are intent on preserving their local specificity.

That accounts in large part for their appeal among the common people of Egypt.



Ban dual nationality for public officials

The resignation of Talal Abu Ghazala from Jordan's Senate Council opened the door to wide political and legal debates about the thorny question of dual citizenship, wrote Hussein Al Ruwashda in a comment piece for the Jordanian newspaper Addustour.

At issue is whether ministers, members of parliament and community leaders with double nationality would comply with the new constitutional provisions and submit their resignations accordingly.

Except for those who, for economic reasons, seek the citizenship of a western country, the idea of officials and businessmen obtaining foreign nationality highlights a decline of patriotic feeling and of the sense of belonging to the nation.

Double nationality also provides people with a shelter if they are prosecuted for corruption.

Banning dual nationality holders is a right decision, as it dispels fear of corruption in public work.

Now anyone who wishes to undertake a public role must first waive his foreign citizenship.

"I do not know, of course, how we will resolve the controversy over the status of ministers, MPs and community leaders who have dual citizenship, especially that there are different interpretations given by constitutional jurists … But I believe the step made by Mr Abu Ghazala should guide us to the right path."

Syrian revolution turns toward violence

The assassination of the son of the pro-regime mufti Badreddin Hassoun this week heralded a shift from peaceful protests to armed confrontation in Syria, opined the columnist Abdelrahman Al Rashid in the London-based Asharq Al Awsat daily.

Syrian authorities claimed they have been trying to nip any armed movement in the bud.

"I believe we have entered a new phase of armed revolution. This is what many in the opposition feared and sought to avoid, but the unyielding regime missed many a chance for reaching a peaceful solution," said the writer. "In fact, I wouldn't dismiss the possibility that the Syrian command had hoped the opposition would turn to arms and end the peaceful movement that has caused it great embarrassment worldwide."

The announcement of the Syrian National Council on Sunday came as a major development in the Syrian situation. It may succeed this time in establishing a political reference capable of channelling the demands of the Syrian people on one hand and offering an alternative for the internationally isolated regime on the other hand.

The journey ahead is still long and treacherous for democracy's supporters. The Syrian case involves many complications, sectarian and political.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk