For an American pilgrim in Saudi Arabia, a discovery of fellowship: Joining Muslim faithful from around the globe, and sharing in the rituals of ages, brings joy — and reflection. (Psst… this is a first-person account from our assistant copy chief!)
Photo: In Mecca, a crush of Muslims can be seen circling the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest site, in the early morning. Credit: Rubaina Azhar / Los Angeles Times
It’s been 96 days since Tunisian fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in protest after his cart was seized by authorities. The Guardian has an interactive timeline tracking the protests, which have since spread throughout the Middle East and north Africa.
The coalition enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya is beginning to fray, as members continue to negotiate over the leadership of the campaign, despite the fact that missile and air strikes began on Saturday. Britain and Italy want NATO command, France and Turkey feel NATO sends the wrong message to the Muslim world and the U.S. just wants to scale back its involvement as quickly as possible.
Airstrikes continue against Kadafi’s forces, most recently in Misurata where his forces have reportedly pulled back while keeping snipers on rooftops, according to residents. Kadafi also made his first public appearance since airstrikes began in an address in Tripoli on Tuesday night.
At least four and as many as six people were killed when Syrian special forces launched an early-morning raid on a mosque in the city of Daraa, the center of anti-government protests. At least 10 have died following a government crackdown on protests for more political freedom and the release of dissidents. The Assad family has been in control of Syria since 1971.
Israel / West Bank / Gaza
A bomb exploded at a bus stop in central Jerusalem Wednesday morning, wounding at least 25 people. It was the city’s first bus bombing in several years. In Gaza, militants fired rockets into southern Israel, continuing an ongoing exchange of rocket and mortar fire at the border, which killed four in Gaza a day earlier.
Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh said on Tuesday he would step down before his term ends in 2013. He originally rejected the same offer two weeks earlier, before at least 50 demonstrators were killed and hundreds injured when security forces closed in on protesters Friday. This follows the sacking of the president’s cabinet on Sunday, members of which were already expected to resign over the violent crackdown. If Saleh resigns, however, some, including the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, worry about what would come next.
The government announced that it would hold municipal elections — the second ever in the country — on April 23. Women will not be allowed to vote.
The Bahraini government tore down the central monument of Pearl Square on Friday, after a crackdown on protesters and arrest of opposition figures. The protesters had used the square as a rallying point.
Map reblogged via soupsoup:
Really impressive work here by the Guardian
test reblogged from soupsoup