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ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing

The Jordanian intelligence service is denying that its agents hacked into the popular Ammon News website earlier this week and forced it offline for several hours.

A R A B I C A ارابيكا

By Kristen Gillespie

MEDIA MATTERS

*The Jordanian intelligence service is denying that its agents hacked into the popular Ammon News website earlier this week and forced it offline for several hours. Ammon News online edition was hacked a day after it published the full text of a petition to King Abdullah demanding political and economic reform signed by 36 tribal leaders, the king's primary support base. An unnamed "official source" told the state-run Petra agency that the authorities have not received a complaint about possible hacking, but if they did, they would open an official investigation. Not a single reader comment appeared under this online article in Al Ghad, one of Jordan's most popular dailies, nor under the statement on Ammon News' website explaining the hacking. This is likely due to a restrictive press law that applies to any statement posted online, with criticism of the government and the royal family outlawed. Khaled al-Kalaldeh, one of the founders of the site, wrote the "the authorities continue to resist change…and attempt to silence voices calling for real, fundamental reform." Again, not a single comment appeared under al-Kaladeh's statement.

*Twitter users in Jordan did not address the hacking charges directly, but Zein Abu Odeh tweeted: "A constitutional monarchy requires revising the social contract, making the king the head of state and not the head of the power centers."

SOCIAL MEDIA MATTERS

*Syria appears to be relaxing a four-year ban on Facebook and YouTube, sites that users inside Syria must use proxies to access. The government does not comment on Internet access, which is intermittently opened and closed – one day an email provider such as Yahoo will work, then it won't for months. Al-Watan newspaper on Wednesday quoted unnamed Syrian analysts as saying that the decision to lift the ban represents "the government's self-confidence and its lack of fear regarding any potential threat these sites might pose."

HARD NEWS

*Lebanon's Prime Minister-delegate Najib Mikati is preparing to unveil his new government, one that will be led by Hezbollah and its allies -- and tensions are already rising in Beirut, independent news website NOW Lebanon reports. The coalition of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri has flatly refused to join a Hezbollah-led government. Amin Gemayel's Kataeb Party withdrew from negotiations on Monday to play a role in the incoming cabinet, one which will likely include centrists and technocrats alongside Hezbollah members, a source close to Mikati told AFP. The government formation has moved slowly, "particularly with regard to solving the complex problem of the Interior Ministry," a ministry that oversees the entire police, intelligence and law-enforcement apparatus, NOW Lebanon reports. Hezbollah members will likely face indictments in the UN-backed investigation into the February 2005 assassination of Hariri's father, former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, and it is not yet clear how the Party of God, which has been trying to stop the Special Tribunal for Lebanon's investigation, will react.


TWITTERING

*Wael Ghonim, the new face of the Egyptian movement demanding the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, is encouraging his nearly 34,000 Twitter followers to keep up with the protests and not back down. "This is not the time to negotiate. Now is the time to answer the demands of young people: the president stepping down and the liquidation of the ruling party."

Feb. 9, 2011

photo credit: illustir

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Society

Mahsa Amini, Martyr Of An Iranian Regime Designed To Abuse Women

The 22-year-old is believed to have been beaten to death at a Tehran police station last week after "morality police" had reprimanded her clothing. The case has sparked the nation's outrage. But as ordinary Iranians testify, such beatings, torture and a home brand of misogyny are hallmarks of the 40-year Islamic Republic of Iran.

Mahsa Amini

Firouzeh Nordstrom

-Analysis-

TEHRAN — The death in Iran of a 22-year-old Mahsa Amini — after she was arrested by the so-called "morality police" — has unleashed another wave of protests, as thousands of Iranians vent their fury against an intrusive and violent regime. Indeed, as tragically exceptional as the circumstances appear, the reaction reflects the daily reality of abuse by authorities, especially directed toward women

Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian girl visiting Tehran with relatives, was detained by the regime's morality patrols on Sept. 13, apparently for not respecting the Islamic dress code that includes proper use of the hijab headscarf. Amini was declared dead two or three days after being taken into custody. Officials say she fainted and died, and blamed a preexisting heart condition. But neither her family nor anyone else in Iran believe that, as can be seen in the mounting protests that have now left at least three dead.

For Amini's was hardly the first arbitrary arrest, or the first suspected death in custody under Iran's Islamic regime.

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