Egypt coptic churches play 'Tinder' as Christians' marriages decrease

Plus: News from Syria, focus on Beirut clashes, what Iraqi think of Colin Powell, the UAE-Israel ties go to space, and much more.

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Before we start, I want to invite you to read three articles I published on Deutsche Welle and Politics Today about Beirut clashes on October 14.

Don’t you know what I am talking about?

Don’t worry, these articles will help you understand better what is going on in Lebanon.

In the first article published on Deutsche Welle, I have contributed to writing the report on Beirut clashes by explaining what happened the following day. In the second article, also published on Deutsche Welle, I have explained why Lebanon has resumed talks with the International Monetary Fund, why this negotiation matters, and why its outcome is uncertain. In the third article published on Politics Today, I analyze what means Beirut clashes for the future of the probe over Beirut blast, which killed more than 200 people on August 4, 2020.

This is it. So, now let’s start to see what happened this week in the Middle East.

Afghanistan

Last week, suicide bombers attacked a Shi'ite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, killing at least 35 people, the second week in a row that militants bombed Friday prayers and killed dozens of worshippers from the minority sect, Reuters reported. The attacks have caused shock and terror among members of Afghanistan's Shi'ite minority and undermined the ruling Taliban movement's claim to have restored security since taking control of the country in August.

Egypt

Egypt's churches are trying to help their unmarried male and female members tie the knot, but the move is making some people angry. An ancient church is coming under fire for trying to help its single male and female members get married. The matchmaking program at the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in the southern Cairo district of Maadi asks members who want to get married to fill out a form with information about themselves and the type of life partner they want to have. But the program is provoking the ire of some members of the Christian community, around 10 percent of Egypt's population of over 100 million. Discover why this is happening by reading the full article written by ‘A correspondent in Egypt’ on Al-Monitor.

Iraq

  • The death of Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell revived criticism among Iraqis over his claims about the presence of biological weapons in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. “Iraqis remember Powell more for his U.N. presentation justifying the invasion of their country more than a decade later by casting Saddam as a major global threat who possessed weapons of mass destruction, even displaying a vial of what he said could have been a biological weapon. Powell had called Iraq’s claims that it had no such weapons ‘a web of lies’. No weapons of mass destruction were ever found, however, and the speech was later derided as a low point in his career,” AP reported from Baghdad. Continue to read the full article if you want to know what Iraqi thinks of Powell.

  • For three years, the Iraqi city of Haditha withstood continuous attacks from the Islamic State group, enduring mortar shells, car bombs, Grad rockets, an active front line, and a siege that lasted for 18 months before the city ultimately prevailed. What made Haditha stand out from the dozens of Iraqi cities and townships that surrendered to the Islamic State without so much as a fight? Read this very interesting essay written by Raed Al-Hamid on New/Lines magazine.


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Turkey

The European Commission said in a report that President Tayyip Erdogan's government had overseen a continued erosion of democracy and the rule of law and had ignored the EU's recommendations last year. The report also suggested for the first time that Ankara was no longer serious about delivering on EU-backed reforms, even though Erdogan recommitted in April to the goal of full EU membership as both sides tried to improve relations. Read the full article on Reuters.

Palestine

A Palestinian digital rights group has welcomed Facebook's decision on Thursday to launch an independent investigation into its moderation of Arabic and Hebrew content, amid sustained accusations that the social media giant has been censoring content related to Palestine, The New Arab reported. Earlier this year, as international attention focused on the forced expulsions of Palestinians from Jerusalem and Israel's brutal 11-day bombing of Gaza, many social media users accused Facebook of censoring content on the platform and Facebook-owned Instagram.

UAE + Israel

Israel and the United Arab Emirates signed an agreement in Dubai to cooperate on space missions, including collaboration on the Israeli Beresheet 2 lunar project. The deal, finalized at the 2020 Dubai Expo, includes collaboration on the Israeli Beresheet 2 space project bound for the moon in 2024. Israeli and Emirati students will work together to design a new satellite tracking the moon. The Beresheet 2 spacecraft will carry that satellite, which should help those following the Hebrew and Muslim calendars to determine the precise time of the new moon. The two countries will also work together on data-based development and research from the Israeli-French satellite Venus. Read the full article written by Rina Bassist on Al-Monitor.

Lebanon

Lebanon's parliament on Tuesday voted to hold legislative elections on March 27, parliamentary sources told Reuters. The earlier than a usual date - elections were originally expected to be held in May - was being debated in order not to clash with the holy Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

Syria

  • A military bus exploded in the Syrian capital Wednesday, leaving more than a dozen dead, Al-Monitor reported. Two explosive devices planted on the bus went off at 6:45 a.m. local time near a bridge in central Damascus, killing 14 and injuring more. Military engineers dismantled a third explosive device that fell off the vehicle, the official SANA news outlet reported. Footage obtained by SANA showed the charred shell of a bus on a busy street. Syrian officials did not immediately blame the attack on any particular group, simply saying “terrorists” were responsible. However, researcher Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi reported that Saraya Qasioun ('Squadrons of Qasioun'- referring to Mt. Qasioun), an insurgent group operating in the Damascus area that has occasionally claimed attacks on Syrian government forces has issued a claim of responsibility for the bus bombing attack.

  • The New Arab and other agencies reported that at least 11 civilians died on Wednesday in a Syrian regime shelling of residential areas of rebel-held Ariha city, witnesses and rescue workers said. The shelling from Syrian regime army outposts, which came shortly after a roadside bomb killed at least 13 military personnel in Damascus, fell on residential areas in the city in Idlib province, where jihadist-led rebels are in control.

  • Syrian refugees who return to their home country risk grave human rights abuses and persecution at the hands of the Syrian government and its affiliated militias, Human Rights Watch said in a new report. The 72-page report released Wednesday is based on interviews with 65 returnees and family members who went back to Syria from Lebanon and Jordan between 2017 and 2021. Of that group, the New York-based rights group documented 21 cases of arrest and arbitrary detention, 13 cases of torture, three kidnappings, five extrajudicial killings, 17 enforced disappearances, and one allegation of sexual violence.

Yemen

A group of human rights lawyers filed Wednesday a legal complaint in the UK accusing key figures in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates of being involved in war crimes relating to the war in Yemen, the Guardian reported. They plan to submit a dossier to British police and prosecutors alleging that about 20 members of the political and military elite of the two Gulf nations are guilty of crimes against humanity, and call for their immediate arrest should they enter the UK. The full list of those accused was not released by the group of lawyers, Guernica 37, but it is understood they include Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his Emirati equivalent Mohammed bin Zayed.


This is all for this week. The main goal of Inshallah is hosting the best of journalism to give you the clearest information about what is happening in the Middle East and not let you behind.

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About me

My name is Dario Sabaghi, a freelance journalist. I am interested in human rights international news with a focus on the MENA area. 

Check out my work at dariosabaghi.com.

You can follow me on Twitter: @DarioSabaghi

Did I miss any important news from the Middle East? DM me on Twitter.

Cover photo: Maya Alleruzzo/AP