- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 2, 2006

QATAR

Rights group cites labor abuses

DOHA — An officially sanctioned Qatari human rights group warned in its annual report yesterday of the less-than-human working conditions of the foreign labor force in the Gulf state and urged the government to take action.

The National Human Rights Committee also warned of a growing sex trade in women and highlighted discrimination against women in the labor market and the inequality they suffer when it comes to marriage and personal issues, saying this “is something that would tarnish the image of the country if not checked.”

The committee said it received 116 individual and 15 group complaints last year. Like other Gulf Arab states, gas-rich Qatar has gotten vast wealth in recent years from rising energy prices and is spending billions of dollars to build new infrastructure and skyscrapers. Its wealth draws more and more laborers from Asia, mainly India and Pakistan.

KUWAIT

Five convicts hanged for murder, drugs

KUWAIT CITY — Three Kuwaitis and an Indian convicted of murder and a Pakistani found guilty of drug trafficking were hanged in the Interior Ministry building here yesterday, the largest number of executions in a single day in 16 years.

After the executions, dozens of spectators were allowed to view the hooded corpses. Authorities reintroduced public hangings in June 2002 after a steep rise in drug offenses and murders.

Farraj al-Rukaibi, a Kuwaiti, was convicted of raping and murdering a Pakistani girl and of raping an Egyptian girl after abducting them both. Another Kuwaiti, Mohammed al-Shimmari, was convicted of abducting an Asian maid and raping her after she jumped to her death from his car while trying to escape. He reportedly took her corpse to the desert and raped it while “she was in a pool of blood,” according to his confession.

EGYPT

Museum not ready to give up mask

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — If only the 3,000-year-old mummy mask at the Saint Louis Art Museum could talk, the mystery of its rightful owner could be solved.

The Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt has given the museum a May 15 deadline to turn over the burial mask of Ka Nefer Nefer from around 1307-1196 B.C., which the council thinks was stolen from an Egyptian museum storage room.

“We don’t feel like we’ve seen everything yet,” said Saint Louis Art Museum Director Brent Benjamin. “It’s premature to speculate what the outcome will be. We are looking at documentation, and we are still awaiting other materials from Egypt.”

Weekly notes …

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon complained to the Israeli army yesterday about its violations Monday of Lebanese airspace, UNIFIL spokesman Milos Strugel said. Six Israeli warplanes violated Lebanese airspace over several parts of the south on Monday, stirring Lebanese anti-aircraft gunners into action, Lebanese police said. … Algeria’s military chief, Maj. Gen. Ahmed Gaid Salah, began a visit to France yesterday aimed at developing military cooperation. The visit “is part of plans to develop bilateral military cooperation and will allow both parties to look at matters of common interest,” said the Defense Ministry in Algiers. Ties between France and Algeria have been strained since February 2005, when the French government passed (and later repealed) a law requiring schools to stress the “positive role” of French colonialism, which Algeria endured from 1830 to 1962.

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