- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Jordan's Palestinians now a minority
AMMAN, Jordan Palestinian refugees make up just 43 percent of the population of Jordan, not a majority as independent estimates have long supposed, Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb insisted yesterday.
"This is the correct figure, based on a secret census never previously published," the prime minister told Amman newspapers without elaborating on when or how it had been carried out.
Mr. Abu Ragheb said he had felt obliged to speak out about the "sensitive issue," because of "persistent reports in the Arab and international media that Palestinians formed 60 [percent] to 70 percent of Jordan's population" of 5.2 million.

Bahrain opposition to boycott Oct. 24 vote
MANAMA, Bahrain The influential Shi'ite Islamic National Accord Association, which was at the forefront of violent protests against the island's ruling Sunni minority in the 1990s, said yesterday it would boycott Oct. 24 parliamentary elections the emirate's first in a quarter-century.
The boycott was joined by the leftist National Democratic Action Association, the pan-Arab Nationalist Democratic Rally and the Islamic Action Association, a newly forming Shi'ite group.
The groups said they would shun the balloting so as not to appear to endorse constitutional amendments that violate commitments made in a national charter overwhelmingly approved in February 2001. However, the four groups restated their "support for the reform process launched by the king" and their commitment to settle political differences "by peaceful means."

Egyptian lawmaker hits airing of American film
CAIRO An independent lawmaker backed by the Muslim Brotherhood took Egyptian officials to task yesterday for allowing state television to broadcast the movie "Air Force One," which he claims sends a message of U.S. wisdom and invincibility.
The 1997 movie about the hijacking of a fictional American president's jet, broadcast over the weekend, sends the message "that no one can conquer the American authorities, that they can defeat anyone," Mohammed Mursi told Agence France-Presse.
"The taxpayers of Egypt pay for this airtime," Mr. Mursi said. "What do we want to teach our children? Every society wants to teach its own culture. Do we want to spread American culture?" He said he had submitted a list of questions on the broadcast to Information Minister Safwat al-Sherif and Prime Minister Atef Ebeid and hopes for a written answer.

Weekly notes
Samir Ragab, editor of the Egyptian government daily al-Gomhuriya and close to President Hosni Mubarak, praised Sudan yesterday for pulling out of negotiations with southern rebels and called on Arab states to declare their support for Khartoum. Diplomats say Cairo fears that the Sudan People's Liberation Army would opt for a new state and increase competition for the waters of the Nile, as well as make it easier for Islamists to dominate northern Sudan. Abdelfattah Amor, an independent U.N. expert on freedom of religion, is to visit Algeria, at the invitation of the authorities there Sept. 16 to 26, the world body said yesterday.


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