This week’s top news stories from the Middle East
A general view shows the newsroom at the Al-Jazeera headquarters in Doha, on November 14, 2006. Riyadh demanded that Qatar shut down Al-Jazeera and two think tanks during a recent meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council. © Karim Jaafar - AFP/File
This week’s top news stories from the Middle East
Last updated: March 16, 2014

Did you miss the news this past week? Not to worry, here are the top stories.

A doctor and a father in Egypt will face trial for performing a female circumcision operation, banned since 2008, that killed a teenage girl. Dr Raslan Fadl and the father of the 13-year-old girl are the first to be prosecuted in Egypt for the practice of FGM. The trial raises debate: with 97 percent of the country’s married women being circumcised, female genital mutilation is still rampant in Egypt.

A Saudi court has jailed a Tweeter for 10 years after convicting him of insulting the kingdom's political and religious leaders and urging anti-regime protests. Another defendant was sentenced for eight years, also for anti-regime posts.

A day later, Saudi authorities closed the stall of an Islamist publisher at the annual book fair and confiscated all his publications, citing threats to the kingdom’s security. More was to come, with hundreds of books banned, including works by renowned Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish.

On top of that, Riyadh demanded that Qatar shut down Al-Jazeera and two think tanks during a recent meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council. These news stories appear after the interior ministry published a list of "terror" groups in a move which analysts have warned could further affect civil liberties in the absolute monarchy.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon strongly criticised Iran on Wednesday for doing too little to improve its human rights record, noting more executions, the detention of regime opponents and discrimination against women.

Saturday marked the third anniversary of the Syrian revolt. Presidential elections in July have been announced and with it a new electoral law that effectively bars any member of the opposition. Despite the number of children affected by Syria’s war doubling in the past year to 5.5 million and Syria’s cultural heritage continuously being destroyed, an end to the war is not in sight.

Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates told Hollywood giant Paramount last week that the Hollywood biblical epic movie ‘Noah’, starring Russell Crowe, will not be released in their countries. Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait are expected to follow suit.

On a different note…

A 100-year-old Saudi beggar died leaving a million-dollar fortune behind, secretly amassing a fortune and real estate portfolio over 50 years of begging on the streets of Jeddah that rivaled those of the city’s millionaires.

Sham Jaff
Sham Jaff is a passionate student of Political Science and Middle East Studies in the heart of Bavaria, Germany. Read more from her on the blog http://beautiful-absurdity.com/.
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