Sunday, July 15, 2012
AL ARABIYA NEWSThere are some readers for whom obtaining a first edition copy of their favorite book or author is of great import and this is evidenced by people standing in long lines to get their hands on new books. While this may be a common site in the West, many believe this is not the case in the Arab world. There is a common perception too about the number of Arabs that frequent libraries. That number mirrors the nature of a reading culture and can be used to evaluate reading habits among its generations. Earlier this year, a debate on how to foster reading habits among Arab youth was prompted after the Arab Thought Foundation’s Fikr released its fourth annual cultural development report in January, saying that the average Arab child reads “six minutes” a year in comparison to 12,000 minutes its Western counterpart spends. It also reported that an Arab individual on average reads a quarter of a page a year compared to the 11 books read by an American and seven books by a British person. “If we adopt the minimum average time that youth is on the Internet, that gives us 365 hours a year, and if we compare that with the average time an individual Arab spends reading, which is six minutes a year, then the difference between the two becomes clear, and the importance of the Internet in youths’ lives becomes apparent,” the report said. Soon after these statistics were released, both skeptical and furious debates took place on social media forums like Twitter, with people highlighting the number of challenges facing their society. Some comments suggested more active usage of e-books to encourage reading habits among the youth at a university level. Others attributed the decline in reading to inappropriate educational environments across the Arab region and families rarely visiting public libraries together. Family trips to libraries are considered rare across the Arab world. Hind Saud, a student tweeted that TV has become the focal gathering point for families. “We never had a chance to read or discuss a book together as a family.” Ghader al-Shehabi, a medical student at Riyadh College of dentistry told Al Arabiya that her reading habits only developed after attending university. “We are required to do in-depth research and I’m enjoying it. We used to rely on one text book at school but the more you read, the better you become. I encourage everyone to bring change to their lives by reading.” Another survey on reading habits in the Middle East in April 2011 made for a depressing read. Only one in five read on a regular basis and among those under 25 ─ nearly 65 per cent of the 3,667 questioned by Yahoo! Maktoob Research ─ about one in three seldom or never read a book for pleasure. The survey’s results shows similar reading habits across countries. In an Arab League table of readers by nations, the United Arab Emirates placed fifth behind Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco and Iraq. In the UAE, just 22 per cent of people described themselves as regular readers. A general lack of educational opportunities in poor Arab countries can also add to these facts. Research for the Arab League region estimates that about 100 million people ─ almost one in three - struggle to read and write. A 2011 UNESCO report found that in the UAE, one in 10 people is illiterate. Other factors to consider in the decline of reading can be attributed to people shunning the Arabic language in favor of English. Noura Farouq, a teacher based in the UAE, told The National in April that she has seen a decline in appreciation of Arabic in her 20 year career. “Students do not see the importance of learning their mother tongue. Their parents put a lot of emphasis on English as they think it will further their careers, so they tend to develop an indifferent attitude towards Arabic.” Despite the benefits of implementing an English language teaching curricula in elementary schools, it has created a language of culturally deprived children. Most of these children are not linked to the narrative perspective of their mother tongue novels, which have created a parallel gap between them and the book. Bringing children to the habit of choosing their favorite novels, adding to develop reading sessions, or a frequent individual reading classes at schools propose a reading support techniques for young generations.
Press TVClashes between pro- and anti-government inmates in a prison on the outskirts of Riyadh have killed two people. The confrontations reportedly erupted at the al-Hayer political prison on Saturday. The severity of the ensuring violence reportedly prompted authorities to send in security forces. On Friday, families of political prisoners held a rally to demand the release of the thousands of inmates held in the prison. The rally turned violent when security forces tried to disperse the protesters. At least ten women were arrested. Since February 2011, Saudi protesters have held numerous demonstrations in the Eastern Province, mainly in the Qatif region and the town of Awamiyah, calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination. The demonstrations turned into protests against the regime of the House of Saud, especially after November 2011 when Saudi security forces killed five protesters and injured many others in the province. The Saudi Interior Ministry issued a statement on March 5, 2011, prohibiting “all forms of demonstrations, marches or protests, and calls for them...” In June, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud ordered the country’s security forces to go on a state of high alert due to, what he called, a “turbulent situation” in the region.
PRESS TVSaudi Arabia’s security forces have arrested at least 10 women protesters in the city of Buraydah amid ongoing anti-government rallies in the country. The women were detained during a protest in a mall in Buraydah, about 380 kilometers (236 miles) northwest of the capital, on Friday.
VOA NEWSAfghan authorities say a government minister has survived a bomb attack on his motorcade in northern Afghanistan, the third attack on a high-profile official in three days. Authorities say Higher Education Minister Obaidullah Obaid was traveling Sunday between Baghlan and Kunduz provinces when his car hit a roadside bomb, similar to those used by the Taliban. Obaid escaped unhurt, but two of his bodyguards were wounded in the blast. On Saturday, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a wedding reception, killing a top Afghan official and more than 20 other people in northern Samangan province. An explosion killed a female official of the Afghan Ministry of Women's Affairs Friday in eastern Afghanistan.
http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/saudi-protester-shot-deadSaudi police shot dead a protester in the country's fractious Eastern Province on Saturday, the latest attack on an uprising against the country's autocratic rulers. The opposition Rasid website identified the dead man as 18-year-old Abdallah Jaafr al-Ajami and said local social media websites had published pictures of him covered in blood. The official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said the man had hurled a fire-bomb at a police station in the oil-rich province, but provided no evidence for the claim. An unverified photo allegedly shows Abdallah Jaafr al-Ajami's body was widely circulated on social media (Photo: Twitter) The SPA quoted Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki as saying four men attacked the police station in Awamiya at around 9:30 pm on Friday. "The security at the position dealt with them in accordance with what the situation requires, which resulted in one being killed while the others fled," SPA quoted Turki as saying. But Rasid quoted residents casting doubt on the official version of events, saying the police compound was well protected with concrete barriers and fences. The Eastern Province has been rocked by pro-democracy protests for months, but state media has often ignored them or reported only the government's version of events. Two men were killed last week during protests after the arrest of a prominent Shia cleric. Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive dictatorships in the world, and the Shia minority often complain of discrimination in the mainly Sunni conservative kingdom.
The Express TribuneNationality Accountability Bureau Chairman Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari has ordered the reopening of three references against Nawaz Sharif’s family. Officials told The Express Tribune on Friday that Bokhari – on the recommendations of a special committee – has decided to reopen cases against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief’s family, involving an alleged case of money laundering worth more than $32 million. The special committee headed by NAB Prosecutor General KK Agha has recommended the reopening of cases against politicians after the committee decided to scrutinise cases against all politicians, particularly against the Sharif brothers. “NAB’s chairman has signed an application requesting the accountability court to reopen three references against the Sharif brothers to contest a petition which was filed by the Sharif brothers in [the] Lahore High Court in October 2011,” said an official statement. “These cases include Hudaibia Paper Mills, assets beyond known sources of income and Ittefaq foundry (wilful loan default).” On May 17, the bureau had formally announced that the decision to initiate inquiries against Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif came after President Asif Ali Zardari’s order to scrutinise all politicians. “The president directed NAB’s chairman to make sure that there should be no political victimisation in such cases,” said a top official. The special committee will revisit all the cases pending against politicians, the official revealed while adding that “we are in the process of scrutinising the remaining cases relating to politicians and the findings/recommendations would be shared with the media accordingly”. Sharif brothers on February 15, 1995 provided a guarantee to pay on demand the Leasing Company any such due against the Hudabiya Paper Mills up to a maximum of $12.046 million together with all profits and charges, stated the reference as quoted by investigators. However, the paper mill failed to make the payment on the first due date or any date thereafter. Then interior minister Rehman Malik had claimed on April 28, 2012 that he had documented evidence of corruption against the PML-N leadership and would file a reference against them to NAB. The federal government is the complainant in this reference, which also includes cases related to defaulting on loans worth Rs4.9 billion taken from nine different banks in the early 90s. The official statement further stated that the proceedings on cases against the Sharif brothers were adjourned sine-die (without assigning a day for a further hearing) by the accountability court in 2001 when they were in exile. After their return, NAB filed an application for the reopening of these cases in 2007 which was granted. But later on, these cases were adjourned sine-die in 2010 by the accountability court with the direction that the trial could be commenced if an application signed by the bureau’s chairman is submitted before the court. PML-N Information Secretary Mushahidullah Khan rejected the allegations saying: “We are ready to face inquiries… These are totally politically motivated inquiries. “The bureau should become a mouthpiece of the Supreme Court rather than the president,” he told The Express Tribune. Published in The Express Tribune
Daily TimesPreventing children from receiving a vaccine that saves them from paralysis and deformities, i.e. the anti-polio vaccine, exemplifies extreme inhumanity. The Taliban have been campaigning against polio vaccinations since 2007, painting it as a conspiracy hatched by the west against Islam in its bid to render Muslims infertile. Mullah Fazalullah was the originator of this theory. Anti-US sentiment was fuelled further when Dr Afridi helped the CIA hunt and get Osama bin Laden through a fake vaccination campaign in May 2011. Taking their cue from this incident, prominent Taliban leaders like commander Mullah Nazir and Hafiz Gul Bahadur have decided to ban polio vaccinations in their areas as well. They are convinced that the vaccinators do not only vaccinate their children but also supply their DNA to the western spy agencies so that they could attack them with precision using drones. The North Taliban Shura or Supreme Council has also ordered people to stay away from polio vaccination campaigns. This ban will put the lives of 241,000 children under the age of five in two of the seven Agencies of the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) at stake. Since early this year, out of 22 polio cases reported in Pakistan, 11 were found in FATA, with nine in Khyber Agency alone. Beside Afghanistan and Nigeria, Pakistan is the only country still suffering from the scourge of polio. The World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned about the situation since it is not only Pakistan that is at risk, the fear of the virus spreading beyond the country’s borders is equally worrisome. Pakistan launched its first initiative against polio in 1994 and by 2005 Pakistan only had 28 reported cases of polio, down from 1,155 in 1999. The downturn in the polio drive is mostly attributed to Talibanisation in the tribal areas, but the situation in other parts of the country is equally grim. This year, out of 22 cases, 11 were found in different parts of Pakistan. Lately, the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab have started prosecuting parents for denying polio vaccination to their children. Afghan refugees will be deported if they resist the vaccinators. The government is trying to engage tribal elders in Khyber Agency along with religious scholars to do away with the misconceptions of parents that polio vaccination is a western conspiracy. Now that pressures are mounting on Pakistan to eradicate the menace that has the potential of a spillover to other parts of the world, the government is belatedly gearing up its efforts, which have been dismal in the past, leading to the re-emergence of polio with a vengeance.
Four people killed in mortar attack in Sheehan area of Bara in Peshawar. Militants fired four mortar shells on police check post in Sheehan area of Bara in Peshawar late night. The check post remained untouched while one mortar hit the house of a local named Dolat Mir that killed his wife, two daughters and a son.Meanwhile, Dolat Mir was injured in the attack.Soon after the incident, the police cordoned off the area and started search operation.