- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 30, 2004


Arabs criticize Yassin assassination

JERUSALEM — Israel’s Arab population staged mass protests yesterday to reflect their anger at Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s government for its March 22 assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, in which rockets were fired from helicopters as the paraplegic Hamas founder left a mosque in Gaza City.

In the largest demonstration, about 5,000 marchers gathered in the Galilee town of Arraba, many carrying banners condemning the assassination and urging the liberation of the jailed leader of Israel’s Islamic Movement, Raed Salah.

The marchers, whose demonstration was echoed in other northern Galilee villages, were marking “Land Day,” which honors six Israeli Arabs killed in 1976 during protests against land confiscation. Arab Knesset member Azmi Bishara, who was among the protesters in Arraba, said the “government only sees us as an obstacle, as a demographic problem, but not as people.”


Cyprus plan hailed after U.N. revisions

ANKARA — Turkish newspapers yesterday hailed a revised peace plan drawn up by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to reunify Cyprus, saying it took into account many of the demands put forward by Turkey and Turkish Cypriots.

The U.N. proposal was announced Monday in the Swiss resort of Burgenstock, where rival Cypriot sides, backed by their respective motherlands of Greece and Turkey, are negotiating to end the island’s division before it joins the European Union on May 1.

Under the U.N. plan, an unspecified number of Turkish troops would stay permanently on the eastern Mediterranean island to boost security for Turkish Cypriots. The proposal also makes it clear that no one side has authority over the other on the island, which for 30 years has been divided between a breakaway Turkish Cypriot enclave in the north and the Greek Cypriot sector in the south.


Illiteracy rate soars among women

SAN’A — Illiteracy is increasing at an alarming rate among Yemeni women because of a poor educational infrastructure and preferential treatment for men, a study indicates.

Prepared by university professor Najat Fakih, the study says the number of illiterate women increased by 2 million in the past four years, reaching 40 percent in urban areas and topping 80 percent in rural regions.

Mrs. Fakih, who submitted the study yesterday to the National Congress for Combating Violence Against Women, blamed the increase in female illiteracy on the priority given to men in education, poor educational infrastructure and scarcity of literary centers, especially in rural areas.

Weekly notes

Jordan wants to return to Iraq more than 700 stolen antiquities seized from smugglers, the official news agency Petra said yesterday. Quoting Fawaz Khreisha, head of Jordan’s Department of Antiquities, the agency said the pieces are well-preserved, scientifically documented and ready for delivery. It has sent a compact disc with pictures of the artifacts to Iraqi authorities renovating the National Museum in Baghdad, looted after the fall of Saddam Hussein last year. … A Saudi woman has been expelled from her university for taking pictures of unveiled colleagues with a camera-equipped mobile phone and posting them on the Internet. Yesterday’s edition of al-Yaum newspaper said it was the first case of its kind, although there have been reports of girls removed from school in other parts of the kingdom for using the banned camera phones.

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