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

A R A B I C A ارابيكا

By Kristen Gillespie


EGYPT PROGRESS

*Egypt announced it will dissolve the loathed state-security intelligence services, long accused of torture and other grave human-rights abuses. It is hard to overstate the role these intelligence services have played – and continue to play -- in Arab countries, helping to maintain the regimes' lock on power by instilling fear and paranoia across society. The news was greeted by the Twittersphere with both outright joy and cautious optimism. Blogger Wael Ghonim expressed the latter in a tweet by noting that what rises from the intelligence's ashes must be accountable in the eyes of the law.

BAHRAIN DESCENT

*Bahrain declared martial law on Tuesday as soldiers arrived from the UAE and Saudi Arabia to help subdue protests that are spreading across the country. This amatuer video shows the surreal scene of gunfights in the middle of a major avenue in front of Manama's Carrefour retail store. Gunfire pops throughout as a group of young men rush to pick up the wounded youth from a grassy patch in the middle of the road. The camera moves wildly as they yell out for an ambulance, which does not immediately arrive. The palm-lined avenues of prosperous Bahrain have become a war zone.

SYRIAN SPARK

*A protest in the covered souq of Damascus, Souq Hamidiya, took place on Syria's "day of anger," which organizers hope will spark nationwide demonstrations. Here someone close to the camera calls this the "first protest against the Syrian regime" as protesters put a twist on the usual pro-government slogan usually shouted at officially orchestrated protests (against Israel or other external enemies.) Instead of "God, Syria, Bashar, that's it," demonstrators took out the name of President Bashar al-Assad and shouted "God, Syria, freedom, that's it." Police dispersed the protest and arrested an untold number of people.

*Those commenting below the clips offered their support: "God be with you, freedom is beautiful…from a free Egyptian," and "May God grant you victory… we are praying for you… from your Egyptian brothers."

*Activist Suhair al-Atassi told Al Jazeera that "for the first time there are slogans calling for freedom…these are citizens who want freedom." Another protest is scheduled for Wednesday in front of the Interior Ministry to demand the release of political prisoners.

March 15, 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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