News from around the World

Tuesday's World Events   —   Posted on November 30, 2010

(The excerpts below are from WashingtonTimes.com – from wire dispatches and Washington Times staff reports)

KENYA – Scouts mark 100 years, oldest in Africa

NAIROBI | The Kenya Scouts Association, the oldest scouting organization in Africa, marked its 100th anniversary on Wednesday, joining the Boy Scouts of America as a 100-year-old organization.

Kenya was the second home of Robert Baden-Powell, who founded the scout movement in Britain in 1907. Powell organized the first scout meeting in Africa at a church in Nairobi on Nov. 24, 1910.

“We are very, very happy with the 100 years and what scouting has been able to do in this country,” said Miriti Mangu, the chief executive of the Kenya Scouts Association. “It has been able to produce many leaders of high rank.”

President Mwai Kibaki presided over a celebration at the presidential state house.

Mr. Kibaki is the patron of the Kenya Scouts Association. The country’s vice president is a former scout and heads the organization’s executive committee. Kenya’s chief scout is a former speaker of parliament.

There are 400,000 scouts in Kenya and 28 million worldwide. The scout movement began in England in 1907. The Boy Scouts of America celebrated its 100th anniversary in February.

EGYPT – Blogger says jail won’t stop activism

CAIRO | An Egyptian blogger, released after four years in prison for insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak, said on Wednesday he had no regrets and that his jail time would not deter him from activism in the future.

“If I went back in time, I would not change a thing,” Abdel Kareem Nabil, 26, known as Kareem Amer, told a news conference.

Mr. Amer, the first Egyptian blogger to have been jailed for opinions expressed online, was arrested in 2006. He also was expelled from the state-run religious al-Azhar University.

The activist said he had been freed on Nov. 5 and then rearrested, held for 11 days and beaten. An Interior Ministry official has confirmed he had been rearrested.

Mr. Amer, who was denied visitors for one of his years in an Alexandria prison, said he was hoping to resume his studies, but not at al-Azhar. His prison experience would not silence him.

BRAZIL – Police raid gang-ridden slum

RIO DE JANEIRO | Police and soldiers charged into Rio’s most dangerous slum at daybreak Sunday, seizing the bastion of the city’s biggest drug gang in a battle to make the seaside metropolis safe for the Olympics and soccer’s World Cup.

Black-clad officers poured into the Alemao slum complex amid heavy gunfire, with helicopters flying low overhead. But the officers encountered less resistance than expected, and they declared victory two hours later, even if many gang members still remained inside.

A Brazilian flag was raised at the shantytown’s highest point at midday.

It was the biggest victory yet in a two-year effort to drive drug gangs from their strongholds in the hundreds of shantytowns, many draped across the hills around Rio’s beaches, a crusade driven in part by the need to make foreign visitors feel secure for the final matches of the 2014 World Cup and for the 2016 Olympics that are meant to be showpieces of Brazil’s emergence as growing world force.

HAITI – Major candidates call for halt to election

PORT-AU-PRINCE | Nearly all the major candidates in Haiti’s presidential election called for Sunday’s election to be voided amid allegations of fraud and reports that large numbers of voters were turned away from polling stations throughout the quake-stricken country.

Twelve of the 19 candidates endorsed a joint statement denouncing the voting as fraudulent and calling on their supporters to show their anger with demonstrations against the government and the country’s Provisional Electoral Council.

The statement included all of the major contenders but one: Jude Celestin, who is backed by the Unity party of President Rene Preval.

“It is clear that Preval and the CEP was not prepared for elections,” said candidate Anne Marie Josette Bijou, who read the statement to a cheering crowd that sang the national anthem and chanted “arrest Preval.”

YEMEN – Al Qaeda claims attack on Shiites

CAIRO | Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing killing Shiite tribesmen in northern Yemen.

In a statement appearing Sunday on extremist websites, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula described the Shiites as “despicable plants” to be uprooted, according to the SITE Intelligence Unit, which monitors such sites.

On Wednesday, a suicide car bomber struck a convoy of Shiites in northern Yemen, killing 17.

Extremist Sunnis despise Shiites and consider them heretics.

Though an estimated 15 percent to 30 percent of the population is Shiite, Yemen has been spared the sectarian warfare once common in Iraq.

The Hawthi Shiite tribesman in Yemen, however, have waged an on-and-off struggle against the government for the last six years.

NOTE: The news blurbs above are from “Briefly” published at WashingtonTimes.com on Wednesday, November 24, 2010 and from “World Briefs”  published at WashingtonTimes.com on Sunday, November 28, 2010.

Copyright 2010 The Washington Times, LLC.  Reprinted from the Washington Times for educational purposes only.  Visit the website at washingtontimes.com. 

Questions

1. For each of the 5 countries, give the following information:
a) the continent on which it is located
b) the name of the capital city
c) the type of government
d) the chief of state (and head of government if different)
e) the population

[Find the answers at the CIA World FactBook website. For each country: type of government, capital and executive branch (chief of state/head of government) can be found under the “Government” heading; population is listed under the “People” heading.  Go to worldatlas.com for a list of continents.]

2. For Kenya:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Who was the founder of the Kenyan Scouts Association?

3. For Egypt:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) How has Kareem’s imprisonment affected his determination to post his personal opinions online?
c) Read the charges against Kareem under “Background” below the questions. What do you think about his imprisonment?

4. For Brazil:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item

5. For Haiti:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Do an internet search for the latest news on Sunday’s election in Haiti. Has any decision been made on the outcome of the election?  (Include the date and time of your search.)

6. For Yemen:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Why did al Qaeda terrorists in Yemen, who are Muslims, kill fellow Muslims?


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Background

EGYPT:  Kareem Amer is a secular Egyptian accused of Atheism.  Amer first came to the attention of Egyptian authorities after he published a series of blog writings highly critical of the Muslim role in the deadly sectarian riots in Alexandria in 2005, the result of a play performed at a Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, and the violent reaction of the Muslim community over the play’s ‘insult to Islam’.

On October 26, 2005, Amer was arrested for the first time…for anti-religious posts on his blog. He was detained for twelve days, and his books and personal writings were confiscated.

Early in 2006, Amer was expelled from al-Azhar University…for criticizing some of the university’s instructors, writing in his blog that the “professors and sheikhs at al-Azhar who … stand against anyone who thinks freely” would “end up in the dustbin of history”. He also posted writings that promoted secularism and women’s rights.  Amer referred to the university as “the university of terrorism” and said that the institution stifles free thought.

University administrators…filed a [complaint] against [Kareem], alleging he was “spreading rumours endangering public security” and “defaming President Mubarak”.

On November 6, 2006, Amer was again arrested by Egyptian state security officers for posts on his blog that were considered by authorities to be of an irreligious nature, and because of al-Azhar’s complaint to the Public Prosecutor Office. …

The Public Prosecutor told Kareem that if he did not abandon his views, even though personal, he may be imprisoned. Nevertheless, Kareem Amer insisted on his right to freedom of expression. Consequently, Egyptian prosecutors ordered that Amer be held in a detention center in Alexandria until November 22 at least.  His detention was renewed four times before his trial opened in an Alexandria court.

Specifically, Kareem was charged with:

  • Atheism. due to some blog posts, for instance, the one titled “There is no God except Human beings” (in Arabic لا إله إلا الإنسان).[10]
  • Spreading information and malicious rumors that disrupt public security;
  • Defaming the president of Egypt;
  • Incitement to overthrow the regime based upon hatred and contempt ;
  • Incitement to hate “Islam” and to breach public peace standards; and
  • Highlighting inappropriate issues that harm the reputation of Egypt and spreading these publicly.
[He was sentenced to] three years for insulting Islam and inciting sedition, and one year for insulting Mr Mubarak.

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YEMEN:  EXPLANATION OF SUNNI AND SHI’A (Shi’ite) MUSLIMS

  • Just as there are many denominations of Christianity (such as Catholic or Protestant) and Judaism (such as Orthodox, Conservative or Reform) there are a number of denominations of Islam. 
  • The major denominations of Islam are Sunni and Shi’a.
  • Sunni and Shi’a have significant theological differences from each other, but possess the same essential belief in Allah and the Koran.
  • Sunnis make up the majority of Muslims worldwide (80%- 85% of all Muslims are Sunni).  
  • The Shia are a minority, comprising between 10 percent and 15 percent of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslim population – certainly fewer than 200 million, all told.
  • The Shia are concentrated in Iran, southern Iraq and southern Lebanon. But there are significant Shiite communities in Saudi Arabia and Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India as well.
  • Shi’as are in the majority in Iraq (approximately 60-65% of Iraq’s population are Shi’a).  Although the minority in Iraq, Sunni Arabs enjoyed favor under Saddam’s rule.

(Read more about the Sunni-Shi’a split at wikipedia.)

Resources

KENYA:  Visit the Kenya Scout’s Association website at kenyascouts.org.

BRAZIL:  Read more about the Brazilian government’s battle against drug gangs at wsj.com and watch a video news report below:


HAITI:
For a news article and video about the Haitian elections, go to wsj.com.