- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 27, 2009

LIBYA

Aid sought to stop migrants

TRIPOLI | Libya on Tuesday called for more European aid to help it cope with increasing numbers of migrants who enter its territory illegally and sail from its Mediterranean coast to try to reach Europe.

About 1 million migrants had poured through its 3,125-mile border with mostly poor African states, straining Tripoli’s resources as it struggles to stop the flow, the Interior Ministry said in a rare statement. It did not say over what time period this had happened.

Immigration is a hot political issue for governments in Europe, especially at a time of global economic crisis.

The migration issue is also tricky for Libya, whose leader Moammar Gadhafi, the current African Union chairman, wants Africans to endorse his vision of a single African state, modeled on the United States, that allows free movement of people, capital and goods within the continent.

TURKEY

Author on trial for Islam insult

ISTANBUL | Turkish-French author Nedim Gursel went on trial Tuesday, charged by the state with insulting Islam in his book “The Daughters of Allah.”

Court cases against writers and academics have hampered Turkey’s bid to join the European Union, which has urged Ankara to guarantee freedom of speech.

Mr. Gursel’s attorney, Sehnaz Yuzer, said the charges against her client - insulting religion and endangering security through inciting hatred - were based on characterizations of the prophet Muhammad and his family in the book.

“The book has been out for a year,” Mr. Gursel told Reuters by telephone. “It’s reached 30,000 people. Where is the hatred it has incited? Where is the anger?”

JORDAN

Rights group wants reforms

AMMAN | A leading rights group urged Jordan on Tuesday to stop the detentions of thousands without trial each year and annul a 55-year-old law that allows people to be held without due process.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said this type of detention undermines the rule of law in Jordan.

The kingdom has in the past been criticized for prolonged detentions, treatment of prisoners or holding of suspects without charge, including by the U.S. State Department, although it has taken some steps to improve its human rights record and introduce more reforms.

Jordanian authorities hold more than 10,000 people every year - one in five inmates - based on the law, said Joe Stork, the rights group’s deputy chief for Middle East and North Africa. None go on trial, and all that is required for their detention is a governor’s signature, he said.

ISRAEL

Writer Elon dies at 82

JERUSALEM | Israeli writer Amos Elon, one of the country’s leading chroniclers and critics, has died in his adopted home of Italy. He was 82.

His wife, Beth Elon, said he died at home Monday in the Tuscan village where he spent the last years of his life. He suffered from leukemia and died “peacefully but sadly,” she said.

Mr. Elon began his career as a reporter for the Israeli daily Ha’aretz in the 1950s. His work followed the Zionist movement from its early days, including an acclaimed biography of the movement’s founder, Theodor Herzl.

His best-known book, “The Israelis: Founders and Sons,” stood out as one of the first works by an Israeli to deal with the national aspirations of the Palestinians. The topic had been largely ignored by Zionist pioneers and historians.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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