West Bank and Jordan: Human Rights Groups, U.S., Europe Support the Unacceptable Yet Again (GateStone Institute) by Khaled Abu Toameh 04/09/12)
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This is how Arab despots fight those who dare to criticize them or
demand democracy or freedom of expression. One of those arrested by
Palestinian policemen – trained and funded by Americans and
Europeans - Ismat Abdel Khalek, university lecturer, single mother of
two, and in deteriorating health, is awaiting trial in solitary
confinement. International human rights have refused to endorse her
case out of fear of alienating the Palestinians leadership in the
Both Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan´s King
Abdullah have been clamping down on anyone suspected of daring to
criticize His Excellency The President, or His Majesty The King -- or
any Arab dictator – by making it a crime to "extend the tongue."
In Jordan, two young men were recently sentenced to prison
for "extending their tongues" against King Abdullah; six other
Jordanians are awaiting trial on the same charges.
The Jordanian authorities arrested all the men during demonstrations
and rallies in support of reforms and democracy in the kingdom.
One of the suspects was arrested for burning a picture of the
monarch; the rest were accused of chanting slogans against the regime
and in favor of democracy and reform.
In a separate case, an Arab citizen of Israel was arrested by the
Jordanians after he was suspected of speaking ill of the king. The
man was released following the intervention of the Israeli
The Palestinian Authority, not much different from other Arab
dictatorships, has also been cracking down on Palestinians who dare
raise their voices in favor of freedom of speech and democracy.
In the past two weeks, Palestinian Authority policemen -- who are
trained and funded by Americans and Europeans -- arrested three
journalists for allegedly "extending their tongues" against Abbas and
Palestinian government officials.
One of those arrested is the journalist and blogger Ismat Abdel
Khalik, a single mother of two from the West Bank.
Her crime was that she posted a comment on Facebook that denounced
Abbas as a "traitor" and "fascist" and called for dismantling the
Abdel Khalik, who is also a university lecturer, is now facing trial
for "extending her tongue" against the Palestinian president. She is
being held in solitary confinement in a Palestinian prison.
Abdel Khalik´s relatives and friends said that she was hospitalized
shortly after her arrest because of her deteriorating health.
Some of her colleagues complained that international human rights
organizations have refused to endorse her case out of fear of
alienating the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank.
Abdel Khalik would have been more fortunate had she been arrested by
Israel. Then she would have been depicted by the Western media as a
hero and the UN Human Rights Council would have held an emergency
session to condemn Israel and call for her immediate release.
Palestinian journalist Tareq Khamis, who protested against her arrest
by posting a critical comment on Facebook, quickly found himself
being led to interrogation by agents belonging to Abbas´s much-feared
Preventive Security Service. He too was suspected of "extending his
tongue" against the president.
In light of the clampdown, Jordanians and Palestinians have been
advised to keep their tongues inside their mouths to avoid detention
and prosecution. This is how Arab despots fight those who dare to
criticize them or demand democracy and freedom of expression.
Ironically, the crackdown on those who "extend their tongues" is
being led by the two Arab leaders who are considered among the West´s
best allies in the Middle East: Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah.
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