x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

France discriminates against Muslim women

The French parliament has launched a nationwide survey to determine the numbers of women wearing the veil and burqa in France before issuing a law that will ban the garments in the country's streets and public places, wrote Mazen Hammad in the Qatari daily Al Watan.

The French parliament has launched a nationwide survey to determine the numbers of women wearing the veil and burqa in France before issuing a law that will ban the garments in the country's streets and public places, wrote Mazen Hammad in the Qatari daily Al Watan. But the numbers are so few that national TV channels are finding it hard to locate any veiled women for their reports. According to Islamic groups, the number of women wearing the hijab or burqa is no more than a few hundred. And the majority of these women are French converts.

Muslim women covering their face and head suffer all sorts of harassment; they are stared at, spat upon or told to "go home". After the French President's speech last week, in which he announced that the veil and burqa were not welcome in France, the situation has become worse. Frances declared hostility towards this symbol of Islamic devotion enshrines discrimination against Muslim women as state policy. It also encourages public Islamophobia and the rejection of Muslims by the country.

Despite the increasing Russian presence in the Middle East this role still has its own limits, wrote Abdelazim Hanafi in the Kuwaiti daily Al Seyasah. After years of confusion and self doubt, during the 1990s, Russia is renewing its role in the Middle East. The new impetus is part of a comprehensive plan to reassert itself on the world stage, which already has led Moscow to announce strong stances on a number of international and regional conflicts.

However, one should not expect the current role of Russia to come any closer to the one played by the Soviet Union. The Russian confederation is a shadow of its former self. More importantly, Russians view their global and regional role themselves of their role differently today. The Soviet Union's vision was more part of an ideological commitment, based on world leadership considerations and competition with the US. Russia, on the other hand, views its involvement through the lens of self interest. Today's Russia is more motivated by economic interest more so than political links, which translates into relations that serve both Moscow and its partners.

For the first time, the world is taking a firm and clear position on the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian cause. This calls for bolder and unprecedented steps from the Arab states, wrote Saleh al Qallab in an opinion article in the Jordanian daily Al Rai.

When the Quartet on the Middle East insists that only the two-state solution is viable and orders the Israelis to put and end to the settlements, remove the West Bank checkpoints and open the Gaza crossings, Arabs should respond with equal strength. If Israel indeed commits to stop the Jewish settlements, removes the checkpoints that turn the West Bank into divided cantons, lifts the Gaza blockade and accepts the two-state solution as formulated by the international community, it would be sheer foolishness to not engage in a normalisation process that will give more credibility to the Quartet's action, which in turn can exert more pressure on the current Israeli government. If Arabs are hesitant and do not support the international community, they would be "committing a crime" against the Palestinian population and squandering a unique opportunity. The Arab initiative was not a victory statement, but a commitment to a historic compromise.

There is an increasing number of newspapers publishing on the world wide web, but apart from the ones affiliated with major media organisations many of them face credibility issues, wrote Nasser al Sarami in the Saudi daily Al Jazirah.

The information relayed by most online media in the region lacks professionalism and is more inclined to be biased. This is also true when it comes to the choice of news and pictures. It is true that they have a long way to go before they are able to generate sufficient income to become independent and lack the means to hire qualified writers or provide suitable training. But without a code of ethics and the risk becoming "a profession of unprofessional amateurs ".

However, the phenomenon is worth observing and monitoring. The market will operate on a basis of natural selection, as advertisers are smart enough to avoid mingling their brand names with poor quality websites, where writers are unqualified, fail to properly report the news and lack the skill or patience to verify the stories they post, which turns their website into waste bin full of rumours and calumnies.

* Digest compiled by Mohamed Naji mnaji@thenational.ae