Archive for November 26th, 2011

Assad’s men in Lebanon – Baathist official’s ferocious rampage caught on camera

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Global Arab Network – A CCTV video that recently emerged on the Internet has kicked up a storm in Lebanon. It shows five men enter a pharmacy, insult the employees and ransack several displays. But it is the identity of one of the thugs more than the rampage itself that has caused the biggest stir: he has turned out to be a known representative of the local Baath party – which is widely despised in Lebanon for its close ties to Syria.

The incident took place on July 3 in the coastal town of Saida, south of Beirut. The man in the blue T-shirt is Mostapha Al-Awass, a Baath party candidate in the 2009 elections. Other members of his family have recently made headlines as well: last month his brother verbally lashed out at an imam in a Saida mosque because he had denounced the repression of the Syrian regime against pro-democracy protesters.

The Baath Arab Socialist Party was established in 1956 and is a branch of the Syrian Baath Party in Lebanon. The Syrian army pulled out of Lebanon in 2005 after 30 years of military presence, and tensions between the two countries are still rife.

Lina Bashasha is the pharmacist captured in the footage.

It all started when a young boy came into the pharmacy to buy some medicine. The medicine cost 11,000 Lebanese pounds [5 euros] and he only had 10,000 on him. He left the money he had at the till and went to fetch the rest. Shortly afterwards, I received a call from Mostapha al-Awass who told me that the young boy in question was his nephew. He asked me why I hadn’t handed over the medicine, and complained that the price had gone up. When I tried to explain, he hung up on me.

His nephew came to get the money that he had left behind. Shortly after, Mostapha al-Awass showed up with four armed men. They ordered all the customers to leave and one of them at that time rang the police. Then the men started shouting and hurling abuse and me and my husband, before knocking over several displays. Mostapha cursed and insulted the authorities, including the police. At one point, he screamed: “My name is Mostapha al-Awass and God himself speaks to me with respect!” We were really scared; the Filipina cleaning lady was terrified and fainted after they left.

Mostapha al-Awass was arrested and remains in prison awaiting his court appearance. But it is not the first time that he has used such intimidation tactics – many people in Saida are scared of him. He reportedly forces people to lend him money, then never pays them back.

People told me to be careful because who knows what he is capable of doing when he gets out of prison. But for now, it seems that the judge does not want to release him because other complaints have been filed against him and they are being taken into account. I believe that other people were waiting for something like this to happen.

This time we were lucky: the camera footage evidence was irrefutable. I hope that this will put an end to the impunity that Baath Party members currently enjoy.”

Contributors: Lina Bashasha

Source: Global Arab Network.

Jordanian protesters burn U.S. flag

AMMAN, July 22 (Xinhua) — Hundreds of Jordanians held a demonstration Friday, where they burnt a U.S. flag and stressed rejection of America’s interference in the region.

During the sit-in in downtown Amman, the demonstrators voiced rejection of any U.S. interference in reform efforts in the country.

Stressing on the importance of unity among Jordanians of all origins, they called for uprooting corruption in the Arab kingdom and ending the “security iron fist.”

The demonstrators also condemned police assault against several media personnel during a demonstration last Friday.

The police department in Jordan on Wednesday announced its responsibility for the “limited” attacks against media people during last week’s demonstration and said the involved police members will be referred to law.

On Thursday, King Abdullah II of Jordan rejected the beating of journalists by policemen as “unjustified and unacceptable.”

The Jordanian king also voiced rejection of any practices and restrictions obstructing the work of media, which has an important role in accurately and independently delivering information to citizens and addressing their issues, the state-run Petra news agency reported.

Source: Xinhua.