Thursday, November 27, 2014

Report: Syria army kills dozens of rebels

Syrian troops have killed 50 fighters in an ambush in the largely rebel-controlled countryside east of Damascus, according to state media.
"An army unit killed 50 terrorists in an ambush while they tried to flee Mediya village," SANA news agency reported on Wednesday, using the standard official term for the rebel fighters.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 30 people, all of them men, had been killed in the operation, which was backed by fighters of Lebanon's Hezbollah.
But the Observatory also added that it could not confirm whether all of the dead were rebel fighters.
A Hezbollah source confirmed that their group's fighters had taken part in the operation and said 30 rebels had been killed.
The Shia group has deployed thousands of fighters to Syria to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government against the mainly Sunni rebels.
The countryside east of Damascus known as Eastern Ghouta has remained largely in the hands of rebel fighters, despite repeated efforts by the army to oust them.
In August 2013, the area was hit by a string of chemical weapons attacks that killed hundreds of people.
The attacks sparked US threats of military action that were defused only by the Syrian government's agreement to dismantle its chemical arsenal.

Libyan women struggle to join the workforce

Despite experiencing significant political and social instability in recent years, Libya is a country in which women are continuing to achieve above-average rates of higher education when compared to countries across the Middle East and North Africa.
However, even when acquiring what is necessary to "make it", Libyan women still struggle to attain the same levels of employment, pay and access to senior positions as their male counterparts.
Above all else, one thing is clear: Libyan women are highly educated. The majority of college graduates in the country are women, with 77 percent pursuing higher education courses, compared to 63 percent of men, according to a September 2013 report by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES).

OPINION: Libya: The war nobody can win

However, the problems seem to arise after graduation, with only 43 percent of women gaining official employment.
"The issue is not education, it's that following on from education, we have this drastic decrease where a lot of women are not entering the formal workforce," said Alaa Murabit from her home in Zawiyah, a city in northwest Libya.
Murabit is the founder of The Voice of Libyan Women, a non-profit organisation that works to improve political participation and economic empowerment for women.
Murabit, a doctor, says there are a few reasons for this decrease, one of which is that many women choose to work from home in order to accommodate their families' needs.
"Most women will choose jobs that allow for them to have a family life - they will start at-home businesses. Those who start these businesses, where they are making sweets or have a sewing business, that's not seen as part of the formal economy; they are not officially part of the Libyan work force. And it's a large group of women who choose to work that way," explains Murabit.
According to recent figures, only 20 percent of women in Libya take part in civic or political activity of any kind.
Of Libya's working women, 73 percent choose careers in education or medicine. Hikmat Kmishi is the coordinator of Women for Democratic Transformation (WDT), a Tripoli-based network that encourages prospective female politicians. She affirmed that women tend to work in two main sectors.
"Most women become doctors or teachers. We certainly don't have many female politicians," explains Kmishi, who holds cultural factors responsible for this trend.
A lot of times when customers have issues, they will say 'I want to talk to the manager,' but they don't realise I am the manager, and it's usually satisfying for me to tell them that.
- Assia Amry, manager, Aramex
"Women are not traditionally in the public sphere, and while they are given jobs, rarely are they put in decision-making positions. It's the mindset, people still think women can't do a lot."
Kmishi is one of many women who think that cultural practices are negatively affecting the female workforce, and it's a factor that arises for Libyan women in various sectors.
Assia Amry works for Aramex, a global logistics and transportation provider. She is the manager of their Tripoli branch. She grew up in the US but moved to Libya in June 2012 with her father, who had been part of an anti-Gaddafi dissident movement.
"My team are all men," says Amry. "At first I think they were amused at the idea of being led by a woman, but [they] eventually accepted it … and it's great."
Amry explained that while there are some women in managerial positions in Libya, senior roles are overwhelmingly awarded to men. As a result, female employees can at times be overlooked. "The biggest challenge is with customers," she said.
"A lot of times when customers have issues, they will say 'I want to talk to the manager,' but they don't realise I am the manager, and it's usually satisfying for me to tell them that."
The number of women working in Libya's private sector is low at nine percent, but not necessarily because women are actively being discouraged to enter the work force, according to Amry.
"It's not because in Libyan culture, women are taught not to achieve, or work; I just think Libya, in all aspects, is evolving… Libyan women are go-getters, they are looking for opportunities."
Beyond pre-existing social factors, Libya's ongoing political turmoil has restricted freedom of movement for women across the country and in turn, discouraged women from entering politics.
Noor El Huda Gleasa, 23, is a communications manager for Creative International Associates, an NGO that facilitates voter education and promotes civic engagement.
She works across 16 different cities in Libya. "If a woman wants to work in politics or in a job that's in the spotlight, the security issues they face are much more severe than men," Gleasa told Al Jazeera. "It puts women in an incredibly difficult position."
Similarly, Hanan Salah, the Libya Researcher for Human Rights Watch, pointed out that the ongoing conflict and lack of security across the country is the main issue affecting Libyan women's ability to work.
Inside Story - Is Libya heading for chaos?
"There have been several instances this past year where, due to the complete lack of law and order in parts of Libya, various militias and individuals are taking matters into their own hands by trying to prohibit women from travelling on their own without a male companion," Salah told Al Jazeera.
"Some militias have been harassing women on university campuses. We have examples of women who have been forced to stop their studies because of the impunity that these militias and individuals are benefiting from."
In short, the instability that has spread across Libya means that women's basic physical access to employment has been affected and this impacts the careers they pursue.
"The reason a lot of women choose to be teachers isn't because they all had a particularly strong desire to be teachers, but it's because schools are everywhere and are easily accessible," Murabit said.
"For women who don't have a husband or brother who will drive them everywhere, it's very difficult for them to have a corporate job downtown, because they would need transportation and Libyan public transportation is very poor."
Murabit said this issue could easily be solved if the Libyan government invested in safe public transportation for women as well as establishing more locally based occupations.
"There is a heavy reliance on what is a local and safe job, and these are primarily as educators, which is great for our future generations - but Libya now has an influx of teachers and not many women working in other fields."
Women in Libya are now looking ahead to a new constitution that is currently being drafted by the parliament in Tripoli and is scheduled to be issued in December.
While women's rights groups are pushing for a quota system to ensure they have a significant presence in the new parliament, the country's younger generation is determined to secure their place in Libya's future.
"I really hope the new constitution is up to our standards," said Gleasa. "And if it's not, well, I know Libyan women won't stay quiet about it for long."
Al Jazeera

Women blast Erdogan over 'hate crime'

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has once again sparked outrage among women's rights groups by declaring that men and women are not equal. However, unlike similar statements made in the past, his comments mostly sparked angry words, as opposed to the mass protests that traditionally would follow.
"You cannot put women and men on an equal footing … it's against nature. They were created differently," Erdogan said in the now-infamous address he gave on Monday in Istanbul.
The speech, ironically made to Turkey's Women and Democracy Association, has caused great offence, particularly within the country's secular community.
"How can a president of a country legitimately say these things? What he said is a crime. It's a crime according to our legislation and it's a crime according to universal laws," Erdogan Erdogan, a women's rights activist, told Al Jazeera while en route to an anti-sexism rally in Istanbul.
Aylin Nazliaka, an MP from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), took to Twitter to denounce Erdogan's speech as a "hate crime" against women.

RELATED: Turkish women struggle with Erdogan legacy

The late 1980s, early 1990s, saw an emergence of women's rights groups in Turkey that had not existed before.
In 1993, Women for Women's Human Rights was created to rally for women's equal participation in Turkish society. However, in 2014, the feminist movement seems to have lulled with many of the women Al Jazeera spoke to saying they were unsurprised by Erdogan's comments, and felt disheartened by his re-election.
The energy and enthusiasm from past decades had withered. 
Erdogan was equally adamant about women in the workforce, saying: "You can't get a woman to work in every job that a man does, like they did in communist regimes in the past… You can't put a pickaxe and a shovel in their hand and get them to work. "
Erdogan has been criticised in the past for being too involved in the private lives of his citizens. His declarations about motherhood, for example - stating that women should have at least three children - have been viewed as an infringement on women's basic rights to make choices about their bodies and families.
I think we need to clarify what the president said. I think he has mixed two things up, sameness and equality. Okay, men and women are not the same, but equality is different from sameness... I deeply believe that President Erodgan thinks women and men have the same rights... he's just a little confused, that is all.
- Fatma Bostan, lecturer, Mus Alparslan University
"There are those who understand this [and] those who don't," Erdogan said. "You can't tell this to feminists, because they do not accept motherhood." Erdogan has also expressed his staunch opposition to abortion.
Zeynep Banu Dalaman, a political scientist and expert in women's studies, told Al Jazeera: "Mr Erdogan wants to make the private lives of women in Turkey a public matter. At the same time, he wants women to be kept away from public spheres of work."
Dalaman said Turkey's opposition parties must play a bigger role in tackling sexism of this magnitude.
"They can help hugely by increasing women's political participation and therefore, give women greater influence in positions of power," she said. 
But not all Turkish women are on the same page. While educated women in urban areas are furious about what the president said, others are comfortable with Erdogan's assumptions, professor Yildiz Ecevit, who specialises in gender studies at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, told Al Jazeera. 
"[Some women in rural communities] receive social benefits for being stay-at-home mothers and while they might not be happy, as long as the economy is good, and they live a comfortable lifestyle, they are okay with voting for Erdogan," Ecevit said.
Fatma Bostan, a lecturer at Mus Alparslan University in eastern Turkey, said Erdogan may have mixed up two distinct concepts.
"I think we need to clarify what the president said," Bostan told Al Jazeera. "I think he has mixed two things up, sameness and equality. Okay, men and women are not the same, but equality is different from sameness."
Bostan, who used to work as a volunteer in the social affairs branch of Turkey's ruling AKP party, was dismissed from her post in 2002 after her husband became a member of parliament. This was because of Turkish legislation stating that only one spouse could work in parliament at any given time - even though Bostan's position was unpaid.
Bostan said she supports this rule, noting: "Politics should not be a family affair."
"I deeply believe that President Erdogan thinks women and men have the same rights … he's just a little confused, that is all," she added.
Al Jazeera

Behind 28 November Calls

Calls of the Salafi front to protest on next 28 November entitled "Muslim Youth Intifada",face harsh media campaigns from all the channels,newspapers and radios pro the regime.
Tanks ,army vehicles and police men are everywhere now in Cairo streets and squares  ,especially Tahrir square,Mostafa Mahmoud square and Rabaa Adawya squares.All the pre mentioned squares were closed today so as not to allow any protester to be in these squares.
The Salafi front front asked the Muslim youth to protest carrying in their hands the Holy Quran,that made AlAzhar issue fatwas condemning these protests as its goal is create chaos and call for violence.
There was another fatwa justifying the killings that will take place tomorrow by the army soldiers and police saying "Salafi guys trying to decive the soldiers by carrying the Holy Quran,so the soldiers shouldnt care about them carrying the Holy Quran and should shot them".
The Muslims Brotherhood ,Legitimacy coalition,Asala party,students anti coup  and many other Islamic movements  announced their support for these protests and their participation in it.
The Salafi front considers tomorrow's protests as a continuation to the protests that will last to 25 January revolution anniversary and wont end till they get rid of the military junta .

All the regime's supporters consider tomorrow's valueless and will end without any action.