Middle East Updates / Amnesty: 1,165 forcibly evicted from northern Sinai

Rafah, near the border with southern Gaza Strip November 6, 2014.

Smoke rises as a house is blown up during a military operation by Egyptian security forces in the Egyptian city of Rafah, near the border with southern Gaza Strip November 6, 2014.   Photo by Reuters

Egypt court declares ISIS a terror group; Pope ends Turkey trip in Orthodox feast, meeting with refugees; Iran hospital manager attacked with acid

(SOURCE)  – Latest updates:

4:29 P.M. Egypt court declares ISIS a terror group

An Egyptian court has designated the Islamic State group a terrorist organization and banned it in the country.

The court ruling Sunday adds that it considers all of the Islamic State’s affiliates to be terrorist organizations as well.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis or Champions of Jerusalem, a jihadi group based in the Sinai Peninsula that regularly attacks Egyptian security forces, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group earlier this month.

The Islamic State group has carved out a self-styled caliphate in territory it controls in Syria and Iraq and demanded the loyalty of the world’s Muslims. A U.S.-led coalition is now targeting it in airstrikes.

Other countries across the region also have banned the group. (AP)

3:18 P.M. Amnesty: Egypt forcibly evicted 1,165 families from northern Sinai

The human rights organization Amnesty International called on Egypt to stop the demolition of hundreds of homes and the forced evictions in Rafah and in other towns in northern Sinai, in order to create a buffer zone between the peninsula and the Gaza Strip.

“The scale of the forced evictions has been astonishing; the Egyptian authorities have thrown more than 1,000 families out of their homes in just a matter of days, flouting international and national law. Shocking scenes have emerged of homes in Rafah being bulldozed, bombed, with entire buildings reduced to piles of rubble and families forcibly evicted,” the organization’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa said.

According to Amnesty, at least 800 homes have been destroyed and 1,165 families evicted since the Egyptian military began the operation to create the buffer zone, after a terrorist attack on a military checkpoint in the area killed at least 33 soldiers on October 24.

Amnesty also noted that Egypt has also imposed a media blackout in northern Sinai, and warned against new legislation, currently pending approval by Egypt’s cabinet, that would prohibit reporting news about the military without prior written consent. According to Amnesty, this legislation effectively exempts the military from media scrutiny. (Haaretz) 

3:00 P.M. Hamas: Mandate of Palestinian unity cabinet has expired

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Sunday that that the six-month mandate given to the Palestinian unity cabinet, formed on June 2, has expired, and that talks between the Palestinian factions should resume ahead of the formation of a new cabinet.

Abu Zuhri said that any change to the cabinet or the extension of its mandate must be made on the basis of negotiations between all factions.

Abu Zuhri rejected claims that Hamas still holds the reins in the Gaza Strip: “As far as we’re concerned, there’s one government, and it has to function properly. If the government is unable to reconstruct the Strip that doesn’t mean it has any less responsibility to do so.” (Jack Khoury)

2:30 P.M. Pope calls for end to ISIS persecution of minorities

Pope Francis and the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians demanded an end to the persecution of religious minorities in Syria and Iraq on Sunday and called for dialogue with Muslims, capping Francis’ three-day visit to Turkey with a strong show of Christian unity.

Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I issued a joint declaration urging leaders in the region to intensify help to victims of the Islamic State group, and especially to allow Christians who have had a presence in the region for 2,000 years to remain on their native lands.

“The terrible situation of Christians and all those who are suffering in the Middle East calls not only for our constant prayer but also for an appropriate response on the part of the international community,” they wrote.

The statement was issued at the end of Francis’ first trip to Turkey during which he prayed in one of Istanbul’s most important mosques alongside the Grand Mufti of Istanbul, Rahmi Yaran. He was also set to meet with a few of the 1.6 million refugees who have crossed into Turkey to flee the IS assault in neighboring Syria and Iraq.

Francis, who represents the 1.2 billion-strong Catholic Church, and Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians, called for “constructive dialogue” with Islam “based on mutual respect and friendship.” (AP)

8:30 A.M. Iran hospital manager attacked with acid

Iran’s police say two attackers on a motorbike threw acid in the face of a Tehran hospital manager, the latest in a string of such attacks that have mostly targeted women.

In a statement posted on its website Sunday, the police said Dr. Anvari, head of Ziaian hospital, was attacked late Saturday. Both of his eyes were damaged, and he was rushed to a hospital for treatment. The report did not give his first name, and his office declined to provide it, citing security concerns.

At least four women were attacked with acid in the central city of Isfahan in October, prompting public protests. It was not immediately clear if the attack in Tehran was related to those in Isfahan. (AP)

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