x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

North Africa’s illegal migrants

Clandestine immigration from North African countries is a troubling trend that demands immediate attention, one Arabic editorialist writes in today's roundup. Other topics: illegal content online, Syria's sectarianism and Egypt's military overreach.

North Africa's illegal migrants 'food for fish'

The ever-increasing trend - and death toll - of clandestine immigration from North African countries to the "promised heavens" of Europe calls for a moment of serious reflection, observed columnist Barakat Shlatweh in the Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej.

Every month, throngs of men and women from Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and Morocco pay money to embark on clandestine speedboats headed to European shores in hopes of finding better opportunities.

Instead of encouraging the young people of North Africa to consider staying at home and benefit from presumably sweeping political changes that would inevitably have an impact on the economy in their respective countries, the Arab Spring did just the opposite.

More are taking the risk of becoming "food for fish", the columnist said, as Arab governments grow more concerned about maintaining public order in urban areas than about clandestine immigration from their Mediterranean coasts.

European institutions charged with the clandestine immigration file are reporting "terrible facts" about the numbers of clandestine immigrants who die at sea, the columnist added.

Since all those immigrants are just looking for a better life, any solution to their predicament must involve job creation and community-conscious government spending.

Illegal content online should be stopped

Despite the ban imposed by the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority on adult websites in the country, pornographic materials always find a way through the cracks, making encryption and embargo measures ineffective, noted Ahmed Al Mansouri, an Emirati journalist, in yesterday's issue of Al Ittihad.

"With P2P [peer-to-peer] techniques, pornographic content has become accessible. You may also get it without asking for it, whether via junk and spam emails, or when somebody posts a link to an obscene video on your Facebook page," the writer said.

The main hobby for a number of teenagers these days is to exchange dirty videos between smartphones via social media platforms. This includes videos of unsuspecting revellers at a party or Arab celebrities in intimate situations they never thought would reach the public sphere some day.

"People who circulate this sort of content … are criminals before the law.

"Besides being a religious and ethical offence, this kind of behaviour is a clear violation of Federal Law No 2 of 2006 on cyber crimes, which criminalises any act of producing, making, sending or storing … any material that is harmful to public decency."

This week's announcement of a joint exercise with Canadian experts in combating P2P-circulated child pornography is in the right direction.

Syria's sectarian issues are being exaggerated

Ever since the Syrian uprising broke out, the one question is on observers' minds: will the Alawis, Christians, Druze, Kurds, Turcomans, Circassians, Armenians and Sunnis be able to coexist peacefully and maintain the country's entity? This is the main issue said the columnist Abdulrahman Al Rashid in the London-based Asharq Al Awsat daily.

Amid speculation and theories about the possibility of division and discord, this important part of the Arab World stands before a crucial test. Is it possible that Syria will collapse and disintegrate?

By nature, Al Assad regime as it stands now is squeezed into a narrow sectarian family affair. The people, however, are quite capable of preserving Syria in its integrity.

"The current regime didn't forge modern Syria or create coexistence among its categories," said the writer. "Ethnic and racial differences don't hinder Syria's continuity, for these are characteristics found in most world countries today where various races or sects coexist in an equitable system."

Yes, there is an underlying issue of sectarianism in Syria, but the regime is trying to exaggerate it in an attempt to convoke support before the curtain is finally drawn on it.

"Despite the legitimate concern, I rule out the possibility of a civil war or segmentation [in Syria] unless all parties agree to it, which has yet to be sensed in the rhetoric of critics and the protesters."

SCAF's opportunity to save its reputation

As the Tahrir Square protests against the country's military rulers enter their fourth day, the Egyptian revolution that brought us so much joy as a strategic turning point in the Arab region faces a danger that threatens its existence and accomplishments, said Abdulbari Atwan the editor of the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi.

The massacres in Tahrir Square since the start of the protests have shaken people's trust in the Military Council.

It also confirmed suspicion about the military institution's ambition to retain power and run the country's affairs through a weak government.

"The performance of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has been laden with mistakes," said the writer. "Not because of political inexperience, but because of its intention to control the country's fate while offering a controlled democracy to the people in a camouflaged dictatorship."

"SCAF has the opportunity to save itself and its reputation and to prevent chaos and instability in Egypt. All it has to do to regain the people's trust is to determine the date for presidential elections and to vow to go back to its natural role as a non-political military institution."



* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk