11th-18th April

Iraqi secularists under attack ahead of elections – 11/04/2014 – Al Monitor

Kadhem al-Haeri, a cleric who has close ties with the Islamic Dawa Party and the Iranian regime, issued a fatwa March 30 banning the election of secular candidates in the upcoming elections. Large banners were hung in many areas of Baghdad and included a picture of the marja (spiritual guide) and the signature of the party’s office. The banners read: “it is forbidden to elect secular candidates”. The banners, hung late in March, are still present in some areas in Baghdad.

Wealthy Qatar, a backer of Syria’s armed rebels, makes room for displaced students  – 13/04/2014 – Christian Science Monitor

While Qatar has embraced the effort to topple Syrian President Baschar al-Assad, it is less keen to take in Syrian refugees. Most of the 2.5 million Syrians fleeing the conflict are in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. Far fewer have made it to wealthy Gulf States like Qatar, Kuwait or Saudi Arabia.

syriens au Qatar

© Fadi Al-Assaad/Reuters. Syrians living in Qatar hold prayers for the victims who were killed during the attacks by Syrian President Baschar al-Assad’s forces on the Syrian city of Homs.

The missed opportunities of Bouteflika’s presidency – 16/04/2014 – Orient XXI

Oil incomes and illness have perverted Abdel Aziz Bouteflika’s presidency. After a “normal” first term it has sought worryingly to escape responsibility for the absolute ambition of maintaining in power, and come what may. A unique opportunity to make Algeria a powerful country has been wasted.

EU and Morocco discuss over free trade agreement – 16/04/2014 – Magharebia

In spite of a difficult context in the world, negotiations between EU and Morocco over economic cooperation progress substantially. On 11th April, Moroccan and Europeans leaders have closed five days of negotiations in Brussels over the free trade agreement.

An Iranian sentenced to death penalty forgiven at the last minute – 16/04/2014 – Le Monde

Abdollah Hosseinzadeh would be 24 this year if he had not been killed in a brawl in 2007, in the city of Noor, in North Iran. The presumed convict, the young Balal (his family name has never been revealed), has been convicted and sentenced to death penalty. On Tuesday 15th April, seven years later, in a spring morning, the victim’s family has decided to forgive the convict while he has noose around his neck.

Egypt’s gay community fears government crackdown – 17/04/2014 – The Guardian

Egypt’s gay community fears it is the latest target of the country’s authoritarian government, after a series of recent raids on gay people. Activists interviewed by the Guardian said they had collectively documented up to nine raids across the country since October 2013 – an unusually high rates of arrests. Most significantly, at least seven raids have seen people arrested at home rather than at parties or known meeting places, raising concerns that the community is facing the start of a targeted crackdown.