Middle East round-up: The boy who was ‘frightened to death’

Here’s a round-up of Al Jazeera’s Middle East coverage this week.

A Palestinian family mourning their seven-year-old child, Iran’s supreme leader speaks for the first time on the protests in the country, and an Istanbul district where tensions between Syrians and Turks has come out into the open. Here’s your round-up, written by Abubakr Al-Shamahi, Al Jazeera Digital’s Middle East and North Africa editor. 

His father described him as a “dream”, just seven years old. The photograph of Rayan Suleiman, shared by his family, shows a wide-eyed boy with an innocent gaze. It was starkly juxtaposed by the way he died, literally frightened to death, the family said, as he ran home from school, chased by Israeli soldiers.

The boy’s shocking death – one doctor said the child’s heart just quit under a surge of adrenaline – has once again drawn attention to the routine arrests of Palestinian children by heavily armed Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli army has described Rayan’s death as a tragedy, but denied any responsibility.

The supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has finally broken his silence on widespread protests over the past three weeks. The demonstrators are angry over the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, the suspected role played by the so-called morality police, and the laws that restrict the way women can dress. Khamenei’s response: he dismissed the protests as riots, and blamed Israel and the United States.

[READ: French actors cut their hair in solidarity with protesters in Iran]

Khamenei also emphasised his support for the security forces. While the majority of those killed since authorities started cracking down on the demonstrations have been protesters, police personnel and pro-government militiamen have also died. And state media reported that an attack by separatists in the remote eastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan killed 19 people, including four members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

In the last decade, Turkey has become a refuge for 3.7 million Syrians fleeing their country’s devastating war. But over the years xenophobic attacks on Syrians have increased. It’s especially been the case in working-class areas of big cities like Istanbul. You have Turks who are worried about their own economic situation, which is bad, and at the same time are resentful of what they see as pro-refugee government policies.

Reporter Paul Benjamin Osterlund took a trip to one such neighbourhood, Bagcilar, where a Syrian man was attacked and killed by a group of Turks in June, and investigated what’s behind the growing hostility towards Syrians.

And Now for Something Different

Erica Accari is unrelenting when it comes to her farm in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley – meaning no fertilisers, respect for the ecosystem and a focus on regenerative growth. On top of that, she works with a Syrian refugee family who live on the land. And it works. She’s won an international prize for her farming techniques, and has a bumper crop to show for it – not to mention, all the while she’s protecting the environment.

UAE changes its visa rules

Immigrating to the UAE just got easier. The Gulf Arab state has introduced new rules, including long-term residency for professional workers and a simpler way to obtain a 10-year golden visa.

The UAE is attempting to attract new immigrants to the country by liberalising its visa rules [File: Karim Sahib/AFP]

In Brief

A ceasefire agreement in Yemen has expired, raising fears of a return to fighting – Israel welcomed a US proposal for a maritime border deal with Lebanon, but rejected Lebanese revisions on it – Protesters in Iraq demand political change, as politicians still can’t agree on a government – Morocco demands Adidas withdraw an Algerian football shirt for what it called “cultural appropriation” – Booking.com backtracks from decision to designate properties in Israeli settlements as “occupied territory”.

 

Italy’s far-right leader and the Arabic language

Giorgia Meloni is on course to be the next Italian prime minister after her coalition won Italy’s recent elections. Attention has been focused on her neo-fascist background, but there’s something else: the Arabic letter nuun, which appears on her Twitter profile. Ostensibly a symbol of solidarity with Middle Eastern Christians, the letter has been “co-opted for nefarious purposes”, writes Joey Ayoub. You might be surprised by what else the letter stands for.

­Quote of the Week

“The [Rosetta Stone] is a symbol of cultural violence, the stone is a symbol of cultural imperialism. So, restituting the stone is a symbol of changing things – that we’re no longer in the 19th century but we’re working with an ethical code of the 21st century.” – Monica Hanna, acting dean of the College of Archaeology in the Egyptian city of Aswan, explains why she believes the British Museum should return the Rosetta Stone to Egypt, 200 years after it was discovered.

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