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Jan 15, 2012

Bahrain king announces constitutional reforms

DUBAI (Reuters) – Bahrain’s king announced constitutional amendments on Sunday giving parliament more powers of scrutiny over government, but the opposition said they fell far short of demands for democracy that have driven a year of unrest in the Gulf Arab state.

The speech did not mention clashes between riot police and mainly Shi’ite opposition activists that have taken place on an almost daily basis since martial law was lifted in May after the Sunni-dominated government crushed a pro-democracy uprising.

Jan 12, 2012

Afghan abuse video reinforces Arab suspicion of U.S.

DUBAI (Reuters) – In the Arab world, footage showing American forces urinating on dead Taliban insurgents was for many a bitter reminder of what they fear – that U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not just about fighting Muslims, but about humiliating them.

“If they had urinated on us, it would have been better than what they did to us,” said Abu Mostafa, 85, who spent six months in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in 2005. “The U.S. assaulted me by beating and torturing me psychologically.”

Dec 19, 2011

Film shows spread of conservative Islam in secular Syria

DUBAI (Reuters) – A film about one of thousands of Koranic schools for girls in Syria has shocked some Syrians but impressed others with the implication that one of the bastions of Arab secularism has become a deeply religious society.

In “The Light In Her Eyes,” Houda al-Habash opens up the mosque and school she runs where hundreds of teenage girls, sent there by their parents, spend the summer learning to memorize the Koran and take religious study classes that conclude with most of them taking to the hijab, or Muslim headscarf.

Dec 17, 2011

Film reveals Paris crackdown of 1961 Algeria protest

DUBAI (Reuters) – When Yasmina Adi got access to archives documenting the 1961 repression of Algerian protesters in Paris, she was shocked to uncover a trove of material relating to gaps in the story of one of the most contested events in recent French history.

As Algeria’s battle for independence spilled into France, Paris police chief Maurice Papon ordered police to crack down on thousands of Algerian protesters who defied a curfew on October 17 1961. Dozens of bodies were later pulled from the River Seine.

Dec 13, 2011

Arab Spring films revive days of Egypt, Tunisia revolt

DUBAI (Reuters) – The first cinematic output covering protests in Egypt and Tunisia this year recreates the euphoria of revolutions that many thought would never happen, but reveals signs of the conflicts that lay ahead over Islamist groups.

The last stage of the revolt that brought down Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and then the entire three weeks of upheaval that led to Hosni Mubarak’s fall in Egypt took place before the eyes of the world with media and other documenters on the ground observing events day by day — unlike uprisings such as Iran witnessed in 1979 or Sudan in 1985.

Dec 12, 2011

Documentary looks at life of Palestinian leader Arafat

DUBAI, Dec 12 (Reuters) – Associates of Yasser Arafat offer personal recollections in a documentary screened in Dubai this week on his search for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal that descended into violence and failed to lead to a Palestinian state.

Figures from Arafat’s circle who entered into a historic peace process with Israel in 1993, including his wife Suha, as well as Israelis such as President Shimon Peres and activist Uri Avnery who knew him well, discuss controversial moments of a career that ended with Arafat’s unexplained death in 2004.

Dec 7, 2011

Bahrain destroys suspicious package at airport

DUBAI (Reuters) – A suspicious package destroyed at Bahrain’s airport contained no explosives but a number of tools that can be used to make a bomb, police said on Wednesday, as security forces fired teargas on anti-government protesters in the capital.

Earlier, the interior ministry said a package containing explosives had been sent via Dubai from Britain, whose embassy was assumed to be the target of an explosion on Sunday caused by a bomb placed under a nearby vehicle.

Dec 7, 2011

Cruise faced “moment of truth” in Mission Impossible 4

DUBAI (Reuters) – Tom Cruise hit the red carpet Wednesday for the world premiere of the fourth Mission Impossible film which had the American facing ‘a moment of truth’ jumping off the world’s tallest building.

Paramount Pictures, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc., chose the Dubai International Film Festival in the Middle East for the unveiling of the latest episode of a franchise that has grossed over $2 billion worldwide.

Nov 28, 2011

Arab media focus on Syria, anxious over Egypt vote

MANAMA (Reuters) – Arab media coverage of Egypt’s first democratic elections reflected nervousness over a historic vote that could raise pressure for more reforms and bring to power Islamists who could change traditional foreign policies.

Arab rulers watched in dismay as popular uprisings seemed to come from nowhere this year to topple friend and ally leaders who ran Egypt and Tunisia with an iron fist with the approval of the United States.

Nov 27, 2011

Bahrain pledges to act on criticism of crackdown

MANAMA (Reuters) – Bahrain has promised to act on the recommendations of a hard-hitting inquiry that said detainees faced systematic abuse during a government crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

The U.S. administration has said it will delay a $53 million arms sale to Bahrain, which is home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, pending the government’s response to the inquiry.

    • About Andrew

      "I write on Iranian and Gulf Arab politics, based in Dubai. I was previously based in Riyadh, in charge of Reuters Saudi small but growing editorial operation, and before that was based in Egypt. I have also reported for Reuters from Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Israel and the Occupied Territories. I am the author of two books, "Popular Culture in the Arab World" and "What the Arabs Think of America", and read Arabic, Farsi and French."
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