Sheikh Jarrah’s El-Kurd twins make TIME top 100 list

The list also includes Iran’s Nasrin Sotoudeh, Afghanistan’s Mullah Baradar, as well as singers and political figures.

Activist siblings Muna and Mohammed El-Kurd brought global attention to the Palestinian struggle against Israeli efforts to forcibly displace Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem [File: Ahmad Gharbali/AFP]

Palestinian rights activists Muna and Mohammed El-Kurd, whose family faces forced displacement from their home in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, have been named to TIME magazine’s annual list of the 100 most-influential people in the world.

The twins, aged 23, earlier this year became the faces of a global campaign to halt Israeli efforts to forcibly displace Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah to make way for Jewish settlers.

Israeli forces detained and questioned the siblings for several hours over their activism in June.

“Through online posts and media appearances, sibling activists Mohammed and Muna El-Kurd provided the world with a window into living under occupation in East Jerusalem this spring – helping to prompt an international shift in rhetoric in regard to Israel and Palestine,” the magazine wrote about the siblings.

In a statement on Twitter on Wednesday, Mohammad El-Kurd said that although being named to the list was a “positive” development, symbolism is not enough to truly support the Palestinian cause.

TIME Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal said the top-100 list features “extraordinary leaders from around the world working to build a better future” who “in a year of crisis have leaped into the fray”.

It includes Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who in 2019 was arrested and sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes for her work to advance the rights of women in Iran.

Nasrin Sotoudeh
Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who was sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes in 2019, was released last year [File: Robin Utrecht/EPA-EFE]

Sotoudeh was released from prison last year after a 46-day hunger strike in protest for her sentencing on charges of collusion, spreading propaganda and insulting Iran’s supreme leader.

Also on the list is Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was recently named Afghanistan’s acting deputy prime minister after the group took control of the country.

“A quiet, secretive man who rarely gives public statements or interviews, Baradar nonetheless represents a more moderate current within the Taliban, the one that will be thrust into the limelight to win Western support and desperately needed financial aid,” Ahmed Rashid, a journalist in Pakistan, wrote of Baradar.

“The question is whether the man who coaxed the Americans out of Afghanistan can sway his own movement.”

The United Kingdom’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, American pop star Britney Spears, and US Olympic gymnast Simone Biles are also on the list.

Harry and Meghan quit their royal duties last year and moved from the UK to California.

Spears, 39, made the list for the first time in a year that has seen her struggle to get rid of a conservatorship that has controlled her personal and business affairs for 13 years gain international attention.

Simone Biles is widely considered to be the greatest gymnast of all time [Loic Venance/AFP]

Biles, a four-time Olympic gold medalist and five-time world champion, told Congress in forceful testimony on Wednesday that FBI and USA Gymnastics officials turned a “blind eye” to team doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse of her and hundreds of other athletes.

“Enough is enough,” said Biles, as she and three other American gymnasts spoke in stark emotional terms about the lasting toll Nassar’s crimes have taken on their lives.

The top-100 list also included US political figures including President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and former President Donald Trump. The list, which is not ranked, included 54 women.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies