Middle East Roundup: Quran burnings lead to protests around the world

Killings in a Palestinian refugee camp and Lebanon’s wanted bank governor steps down – here’s the Middle East this week.

The Quran is the holiest text in Islam [Monirul Alam/EPA]

Members of the far-right burn copies of the Quran in Sweden and Denmark, leading to protests from Muslim countries | Thousands flee as fighting in Lebanon’s biggest Palestinian refugee camp kills at least nine | And Lebanon’s wanted central bank governor finally steps down. Here’s the Middle East this week:

Quran burnings lead to protest around the world

For Muslims, the Quran is more than a book, it is one of Islam’s holiest symbols, and to see it desecrated raises a lot of ire.

It’s why Muslims around the world have been protesting against the burning of copies of the Quran by far-right individuals in Denmark and Sweden.

The governments of Muslim countries have summoned Danish and Swedish representatives to deliver their protests and demand that action be taken to stop the burnings.

They also championed a UN Human Rights Council resolution that condemns Quran burning as an act of religious hatred.

Father Paolo Dall’Oglio disappeared 10 years ago in Syria

Father Paolo
Father Paolo Dall’Oglio [Courtesy of Lia Beltrami]

In 2013, an Italian priest known across Syria for his interfaith activism announced that he wanted to dialogue with ISIL in Raqqa, seeking peace. He was never seen again.

While travelling in Syria, Father Paolo visited Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi, a mountain monastery that was near ruin and that he worked tirelessly to restore.

Today, Mar Musa stands to welcome people of all faiths, a tribute to a man whose strong belief that dialogue could bridge all divides likely led him to his death.

Lebanon’s most wanted man quits central bank

It’s a story of Interpol warrants and theories of complicity at the highest level of Lebanese power. Banque du Liban governor, Riad Salameh, wanted in two countries, on trial in one and under investigation in several, finally quit as overseer of Lebanon’s battered financial sector.

In his 30 years heading the BDL, Salameh built vast patronage networks but did little in the way of policies to strengthen the economy. Lebanon has struggled for years with out-of-control inflation, currency devaluation and rising poverty, while the banks ran out of cash a long time ago and can’t give people any of their money.

Salameh’s replacement has as yet not been named, as Lebanon’s paralysis is political as well as economic. BDL Vice Governor Wassim Mansouri has taken over as interim head, and in spite of his calls to implement economic reforms, there isn’t much confidence in what comes next.

Fighting in Lebanon’s biggest Palestinian refugee camp

The Palestinian faction, Fatah, said on Sunday that one of its commanders, Ashraf al-Armouchi, and four “comrades” had been killed in fighting at Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon.

The violence did not die down, in spite of efforts to mediate a ceasefire, and families began to escape from the camp, seeking safety elsewhere.

Why the fighting broke out, or even who exactly was fighting, remains unclear. Equally unclear is how long tensions will last, and what this means for Palestinian political cohesion.

Now for something different

Hamza Hassan strumming his oud
Hamza Hassan strumming his oud [Ali Haj Suleiman/Al Jazeera]

Hassan Hamza loves classical Arabic music, especially the smooth-bellied oud. So much so that he’s turned a lifelong hobby of strumming the instrument into a career making them for other musicians.

In spite of Syria’s war, which has raged for more than a decade now, he still makes ouds despite having become a refugee himself… He also helps others set up their own oud-making workshops – provided they are skilled musicians already.

“A musician can feel the soul of the oud, determine the right measurements and craft it based on their intuition, unlike a mere craftsman,” Hamza says.


Quote of the Week

“We’re used to being outlaws. Living in fear and outside the system is something we’ve been doing for decades anyway.” | Illegal cannabis grower Anouar from Morocco on whether he will turn to legal cultivation.

Source: Al Jazeera