In this edition: reactions online to the escalating tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem; the web reacts to the sentencing of a young homosexual in Saudi Arabia; and a website with films that last just five seconds.
Escalating tensions in Jerusalem
On Wednesday, the Islamic movement Hamas called for a new “intifada” or uprising, following violent clashes in Jerusalem between Palestinian protestors and Israeli police sparked by the inauguration of a synagogue in the old city. The tensions are reflected on the web.
Many Arab bloggers, like this man, condemn the rebuilding and re-opening of the Hurva synagogue in East Jerusalem. They believe it to be part of a huge conspiracy to destroy the nearby Al-Aqsa mosque.
This Israeli blogger does not understand their anger; she says the Hurva synagogue is a historical monument which was destroyed in 1948, and stresses that the rebuilding of the synagogue is in no way an attempt to make Jerusalem more Jewish.
She also looks at another source of tension between Israelis and Palestinians: the planned construction of 1600 new apartments for Jewish settlers in the mainly Arab neighbourhood of Ramat Shlomo. She cannot see the problem, as they would be built on unoccupied land.
The project has nonetheless provoked a diplomatic crisis between Israel and the US. This analyst from the website ‘Foreign Policy’, thinks that the situation could be defused by replacing the man who authorized the project (Eli Yishai, Israel’s Interior Minister) as this would show Washington that their concerns were being taken seriously.
This French journalist believes that this crisis might in fact be a positive thing. He says it could push the different parties to explore new negotiation strategies in order to revive the peace process.
Saudi Arabia and homosexuality
This is the video which sparked a scandal in Saudi Arabia. These amateur images show us a 27-year-old man dressed as a policeman flirting with another man (who is holding the camera) in a car. The video has been widely relayed on sharing sites and has sparked controversy in a country where homosexuality is still illegal. The web reacts.
As this blog which focuses on the protection of gay rights tells us, the young man in the film has been sentenced to 1000 lashes, a year in prison and a fine of approximately 1300 dollars. This blogger is outraged by this sentence. He says the video is merely suggestive and the man does not deserve to be punished. He wonders what sort of punishment the man would have received if he had dared to kiss the cameraman.
The online newspaper « Arabnews » interviewed a police officer who explains here why the affair was made public when homosexuality is a taboo subject in the country. Lieutenant Nawaf Al-Bouq states that a great many rumours were circulating about this video and the kingdom’s authorities wanted to clarify the situation by reminding people that any homosexual act would be punished.
Yet, this article from the Huffington Post says that the country’s position on homosexuality seems to be slowly changing, largely due to access to the Web, which acts as a platform for gays and lesbians in Saudi Arabia to express themselves more freely.
The creator of this clip does not share this point of view; he says the gay community in Saudi Arabia has no rights. He appeals to the American President Barack Obama to put pressure on the country’s authorities to show more tolerance.