x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Russia and China play double game

Arabic newspapers comment on findings that French Muslims identify more with Islam than the values of the republic, and say that hunger strikers need outside support and that October 1973 war was glorious for Egypt.

"President Bashar Al Assad's adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban, was right when she described as 'historic' the day when Russia and China vetoed the UN security council draft resolution calling for "specific action objectives" against the Syrian regime," editor-in-chief Tareq Alhomayed wrote in a leader for the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

"It is, indeed, a historic day because Syrian and Arab people came to realise [strongly] that the authoritarian regime in Syria that kills citizens … and does not hesitate to use tricks and to fuel sectarian sentiments is, in fact, backed by China and Russia. The latter emerges to practice political hypocrisy in every sense of the word."

Of course it is not a secret that Beijing has always rejected any resolution against Al Assad. This is because China fears it might in the future be in a similar situation, given its record. It may also have taken this position to protect its trade influence.

Moscow's stance is clear. Russians are aware of the fact that Al Assad's regime is the last one in the Arab world they can use to pressure the Americans and Europeans in many pending strategic and economic issues.

Russia wants to do two things. It aims first to show support for the regime, to ensure its loyalty should Mr Al Assad overcome the uprising. But at the same time, it wants to gain the trust of the opposition forces by inviting them to Moscow.

French Muslims put the republic second

Findings by researcher Gilles Kepel, published in the Paris-based newspaper Le Monde, reveal that the Muslim community in France identifies more with Islam than with the values of the republic, Hussein Majdoubi wrote in the London-based newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi.

Le Monde qualified the findings as "very upsetting" to the authorities as a measure of policy against marginalisation.

The research focused on Muslims - mostly from the Maghreb countries - living on the outskirts of Paris, in areas which witnessed strong social protests in 2005. Islam is viewed as the core of life for Muslims there, while "the spirit and values of the French republic" are of minor importance.

In those areas, the report said, there are more mosques than elsewhere and people attend regularly. People are also keen to observe what is halal from what is not. The report said these practices strengthen religious identity in the face of marginalisation.

Mr. Kepel gave an example: the first generation of immigrants used to advise their children to avoid eating pork in school canteens. The second generation order their children not to eat there at all.

The reports shows that the authorities failed in the '90s in curbing trafficking and consumption of drugs, while some Islamic groups, such as Tablighi Jamaa have persuaded young people to change.

Hunger strikers need outside support

Beside the diplomatic battle the Palestinian Authority is undertaking to obtain full recognition at the UN, there is another battle being fought yet forgotten, columnist Husam Kanafani remarked in an opinion piece for the UAE newspaper Al Khaleej.

This one relates to the struggle of Palestinians behind bars in Israel, a battle that is less covered by news. Yet it should be part of any future negotiations, and at the core of the agenda, before territories, borders and settlements issues. Human beings must be the top priority for any future state.

This battle is fought by thousands of Palestinian "prisoners", who are on hunger strike to obtain basic human rights. They demand an end to solitary confinement and that their families, especially those from Gaza Strip. be allowed to visit.

It is not the first time that Palestinian prisoners have gone on hunger strikes. When they did this before they managed to achieve some of their demands. But this time, although they have been on strike for ten days, the Israeli authorities have not answered. That is why they need outside support, not only from the Palestinians but also from the world community, particularly human rights organisations.

External backup would give them stamina and broaden the scope of their struggle, in a cause which is not a "rebellion" but a fight against injustice and oppression.

October 1973 war was glorious for Egypt

October 6, 1973 was the start of the time when Egypt's armed forces fought a glorious war, marked by strong support from the people, said the main editorial of the Egyptian newspaper Al Gomhuria.

Egyptians showed great sacrifice that was required in a battle meant to recover land and integrity.

"Our army demonstrated great courage. Many of our countrymen gave their blood to liberate our occupied territories.

"Our Egyptian army strong-headedly surmounted the setbacks and obstacles to achieve this goal.

"The October victory was not the product of one person or group of persons, no matter how important they are.

"Nor was it made possible by one single institution or authority, but it was the achievement of the whole nation.

"It was the success that crowned the efforts of all Egyptians, who refused to see their will restrained, stood as one man to defend their country."

This year's anniversary came in special circumstances with the aftermath of the Egyptian revolution of January 25, an event that again emphasises the will of the people to build their future, the paper concluded.




* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi