Quotes of the week—follow the links to read the whole thing.
On January 19, five young Moroccans set themselves on fire near a building of the Morocco Ministry of Education in Rabat. The five were saved by passersby, but three had to be hospitalized. They were part of widespread demonstrations all over Morocco protesting unemployment, especially among university graduates.
One of the young people who set himself on fire explained that he wanted to focus attention on the plight and desperation of the young unemployed. The leftist opposition daily Libération commented in an Editorial that the self-immolation was attempted in order “to protest against delays or indifference in the treatment of their case despite the commitment of the new Benkirane government.”
“Morocco: New, Democratic Government Seeks Immediate Unemployment Solutions,” Morocco News Agency, January 21, 2012
Palestinian police have freed a young woman whose father kept her locked in the bathroom of their house for about a decade.
Spokesman Adnan Damiri said the 20-year-old woman was in a “deplorable” condition when she was found on Saturday. Damiri said on Monday it remains unclear why she was locked up.
Baraa Melhem, 20, revealed that she spent the decade by listening to the radio that her father had given her and by eating an apple that she got to eat every day. . . .
Baraa was given only a blanket, radio and a razor blade by her father and stepmother, and both of them encouraged her to kill herself, the daily said. The girl was often physically assaulted and her father would shave her head and eyebrows to punish her further.
He would often threaten to rape her till she got pregnant so that he could kill her in the name of honor killing.
After about a decade of torture, the police officials were finally tipped off by an aunt. When she was found locked away in the bathroom, she was wearing tattered clothes that were on the point of degeneration.
Baraa is enjoying her freedom at her mother’s place. Her parents were divorced when she was barely 4 years old. Her father got her custody and her mother got the custody of the couple’s son. The mother told the daily that she took her son with her because the father used to spray perfume in her son’s eyes. At that time, the father never abused his daughter and she thought Baraa would be safe with her father.
“Daughter found locked in bathroom for 10 years,” Emirates 24/7, January 24, 2012
The Libyan civil war may have given militant groups in Africa’s Sahel region like Boko Haram and al Qaeda access to large weapons caches, according to a U.N. report released on Thursday.
The report on the impact of the Libyan civil war on countries of the Sahel region that straddle the Sahara – including Nigeria, Niger and Chad – also says some national authorities believe the Islamist sect Boko Haram has increasing links to al Qaeda’s North African wing. Boko Haram killed more than 500 people last year and more than 250 this year in Nigeria.
Louis Charbonneau, “Arms from Libya could reach Boko Haram, al Qaeda: U.N.,” Reuters, January 26, 2012
An encounter between a snake and a baby ended in a surprising outcome Thursday, when the infant’s mother walked into his room to find him chewing on the dead reptile. . . .
According to Imad’s grandfather, Shaheen Shaheen, who recalled the family’s tumultuous morning, the boy woke up when his father left for work at 6:30 am. The 1-year-old left his parents’ bed and headed to his room, where he found the 35-centimeter (13-inch) snake. He then grabbed it and bit its head off. . . .
“It wasn’t a pretty sight,” Shaheen said. “He’s a baby, he didn’t know what he was doing. He thought it was a game. I don’t wish this kind of thing on anyone.”
Maor Buchnik, “Snake dies from baby’s bite,” Ynetnews, January 26, 2012
Four congresswomen got an up-close look at gender segregation in Saudi Arabia during a trip to the Middle East earlier this month.
The congresswomen — Republican Reps. Diane Black of Tennessee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Kay Granger of Texas and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia — traveled there with five congressmen to talk with government officials about how the region assesses the threat of a nuclear Iran.
When the lawmakers asked to use the bathroom after a lengthy visit to the Saudi Defense Ministry, they ran into an unexpected challenge: no women’s restroom. . . .
The male lawmakers on the trip, who learned about the problem only after they had used the facilities, offered to stand outside the men’s restroom while the women used it. But the Saudis seemed to frown on that option, so the women had to “wait and endure it,” said Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont, the lone Democrat on the trip.
Welch and Black said Saudi officials didn’t seem bothered by the lawmakers’ predicament.
“‘Why would you need it?’ That was sort of their attitude,” Welch said. “No Saudi women work there but you would think that they were accustomed to having delegations from Western countries that included women.”
Nicole Gaudiano and Elizabeth Bewley, “Congresswomen find no bathrooms at Saudi Defense Ministry,” USA Today, January 26, 2012
Algerian security foiled a terrorist al-Qaeda plot to carry out suicidal attacks on U.S. and European ships in the Mediterranean from the eastern costs of Algeria.
The aborted plan, which was to be implemented by al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb, aimed at destabilizing Algerian national economy as well as attracting expansive media coverage, sources told the Algerian newspaper Echorouk.
“Algeria foils Qaeda attempt to attack foreign ships sailing in the Mediterranean,” Al Arabiya News, January 27, 2012
Oman may sell oil to Sri Lanka in the event of a crisis, which the island nation is racing to avert with U.S. sanctions on Iranian crude threatening its primary refining supply, Sri Lankan officials told Reuters on Friday.
Omani Oil Minister Mohammad bin Hamad al-Rumhy on Friday was holding a second and final day of talks with Sri Lankan Petroleum Industries Minister Susil Premajayantha, who is hunting for a new oil supply amid limited options.
“The two ministers discussed in detail how Oman could assist Sri Lanka in the event of a crisis, if Sri Lanka is unable to import crude oil from Iran,” a ministry official with knowledge of the talks between Premajayantha and Al-Rumhy told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
C. Bryson Hull, “Oman may help Sri Lanka if Iran oil sanctions bite,” Reuters, January 27, 2012
A trial of a Tunisian TV station charged with “insulting sacred values” by screening the award-winning film Persepolis resumed earlier this week, only to be postponed again. The trial is being seen as a crucial test for the role of Islam within the country’s nascent democracy. . . .
Based on Satrapi’s graphic novel, Persepolis is a coming-of-age tale set against the backdrop of the 1979 Iranian revolution. . . .
Following its broadcast in October 2011, Islamic extremists stormed the Nessma office in Tunis and later firebombed Karoui’s house. The trial of Nessma began in November but was quickly adjourned after angry confrontations within the courtroom. Following further altercations this week, the trial has again been postponed. It is now due to resume in April.
At the trial earlier this week, Nabil Karoui, the director of Nessma, said: “I am sorry to be here today, this is a political trial. It is the trial of 10m Tunisians who dreamed of having a democratic country.” His station has been charged with “insulting sacred values, offending decent morals and causing public unrest”.
Xan Brooks, “Persepolis trial in Tunisia is postponed again,” The Guardian,January 27, 2012
On the anniversary of 25 January, the scene was reminiscent of the early days of the revolution as Tahrir Square overflowed with hundreds of thousands protesting against military rule.
That same day, about a hundred people showed up in Abbasseya Square, claiming to represent the majority of Egyptians and chanting in support of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
Since the downfall of Hosni Mubarak, Abbasseya Square has become a home for people who reject the protests in Tahrir. Those protesting there vary from Mubarak supporters, to those who say they support the revolution, but oppose the path it has taken since Mubarak resigned. They mostly gather around their support for the ruling military council. . . .
At the Wednesday protest, the group denounced the woman who was filmed being beaten by military forces and stripped down to her bra during clashes outside the cabinet building last December.
The Abbasseya protesters chanted, “The abeya [a full-body veil worn by some Muslim women] girl turned out to be nude,” echoing those who have criticized the girl for not wearing any layers underneath her abeya.
Heba Afify, “A voice for the silent majority?” Al-Masry Al-Youm, January 28, 2012