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The Mideast: Syria Plans Reforms as 62 More Killed; Muslim B'hood Meets

by RASHA ELASS

29 Apr 2011 00:03Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

DaraaProtestors.jpgMahmoudHussein.jpg
Protesters in the Syrian city of Daraa. Secretary-General Mahmoud Hussein of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

LEADING THE NEWS

Syrian Reforms Planned amid More Unrest

The Syrian Parliament will go into session for five days beginning Monday, May 2, to discuss how to implement the cancellation of the country's 40-year-old emergency law. On the agenda is the people's right to peacefully gather and demonstrate, which has not been legal under emergency rule. Also on the agenda is dismantling the High Security Court, notorious for its secret trials and consequent acts of torture and disappearances. The announcement comes amid more unrest and reports of at least 62 casualties. Most of those killed were in the besieged southern city of Daraa, where security forces have been shooting live bullets at protesters; deaths were also reported in the central city of Homs and the nearby town of Rastan.

The video below is said to have been shot in Daraa on Friday:

U.S. Sanctions Syrian Intelligence, Assad Kin

The United States imposed sanctions -- including bans on business transactions and the freezing of assets -- on Syria's top intelligence agency. Also sanctioned for human rights violations were two relatives of President Bashar al-Assad: Maher al-Assad, his brother, and Atif Najib, a cousin.

A U.S. spokesperson warned the President Assad himself could be sanctioned soon if the Syrian government's violent crackdown on protesters does not cease. Another American official said the White House, for the moment, is "not ready" to call on Assad to leave office because the Obama administration does "not want to get out in front of the Syrian people."

Muslim Brotherhood's First Meeting

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood held its first public meeting in 16 years on Friday to prepare for the upcoming elections in September. On the agenda is establishing a political party called the Freedom and Justice Party and nominating candidates who want to run for office.

Party leaders were often imprisoned or denied a full platform during elections under former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

***

ON THE OPINION PAGES

Al Ahram
Egyptian daily

In an opinion piece titled "Religion Belongs to God, The Country Belongs to Everyone," journalist Inas Abdul Qader called on the press and electronic media to put an end to "language that is religiously divisive," an apparent reference to the expression of anti-Jewish and anti-Christian sentiments.

"It is imperative that in our journalistic discourse we differentiate between two things: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism as religions from God on the one hand, and people who embrace any of these religions for no reason other than to exploit and tarnish it," she wrote.

"So when we condemn Israel's atrocities, murder and destruction, we must name the international Zionist movement and its supporters, not all Jews and the Jewish faith."

Asharq al-Awsat
London-based Arabic daily

A regular columnist argues that there is no real international interest in regime change in Syria because the four main players, Iran, Israel, Turkey and the United States, would not benefit from it and do not want it.

"There is no conflict [over how to deal with] Syria, as many would have you believe. Rather, the conflict exists only within the regime and the people," wrote Radwan Saed. "So the only recourse for the Syrian people is...the courage to die for the sake of freedom and dignity."

Rasha Elass is Tehran Bureau's Middle East news editor.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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