A Bundle Of English Reports, News and Editorials For January 18/2020 Addressing the On Going Mass Demonstrations & Sit In-ins In Iranian Occupied Lebanon in its 93th Day

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A Bundle Of English Reports, News and Editorials For January 17-18/2020 Addressing the On Going Mass Demonstrations & Sit In-ins In Iranian Occupied Lebanon in its 93th Day
Compiled By: Elias Bejjani
January 18/2020


Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on January 17-18/2020
Blinded Amal and Hezbollah terrorists and Thugs Are missing the Jerusalem road and acting as if it passes through the Hamra and Al-Masraf Streets/Elias Bejjani/January 17/2020
Amal and Hezbollah Thugs are mercenary Terrorists hired By the Iranian mullahs To Terrorise The Lebanese People/Elias Bejjani/January 17/2020
No solutions in Lebanon without Dismantling Hezbollah and eradicating its Iranian cancerous occupation/Elias Bejjani/16 January/2020
The Occupier Hezbollah Stands Behind All Acts Of Violence, chaos & Corruption/Elias Bejjani/January 15/2020
A Revolution That Does Not Call For The Liberation Of Lebanon Is A mere Tool for the Occupier that is Hezbollah/Elias Bejjani/January 15/2020
UK adds entire Hezbollah group to terror blacklist/Najia Houssari/Arab News/January 17, 2020
UK adds entire Hezbollah movement to terror blacklist
UK Expands Hezbollah Asset Freeze, Targets Entire Group
U.S. ‘Very Pleased’ with British Blacklisting of Hizbullah
Hezbollah warns of ‘chaos’ if Lebanon government delayed
Lebanese block roads as protests enter fourth month
Reporter Hurt as Protesters Briefly Clash with Security Forces in Hamra
Protesters Brave Rain to Rally in Beirut, Tripoli, Tyre
Protesters Block Roads as Protests Enter Fourth Month
Lebanon releases protesters as rights groups slam security forces
Reports: Hizbullah Seeks to Resolve Govt. Hurdles amid Calls for Enlarging It
Report: Berri, Bassil to Meet on Govt. Formation
Al-Hassan Calls for Continuing ISF Probe in Protest Violence
Al-Rahi Slams Those Impeding Govt. Formation as ‘Lebanon Enemies’
Dar el-Fatwa Denies Interference in Govt. Formation
President Aoun, First Lady participate in Antonine Order mass upon St. Anthony’s Great Feast
Bassil, Sweid ink memorandum of cooperation between IDAL, Lebanese mission
Hassan lauds ISF professionalism, says harmed protesters can file complaints
Boustani signs decree on household gas importation
Lebanon partakes in MedArtSal meeting in Rome to promote sustainable management of artisanal salinas in Mediterranean
The clock is ticking on Lebanese leaders to act
Ghosn lawyers say new Nissan claims against former exec are false
Ghosn Lawyers Rebut New Nissan Claims against Fugitive Exec
Turkey Releases Images of Alleged Ghosn Accomplices
Indian Embassy in Lebanon disseminates article on ‘Understanding India’s Citizenship Amendment Act’

Details Of The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorial published on January 17-18/2020
Blinded Amal and Hezbollah terrorists and Thugs Are missing the Jerusalem road and acting as if it passes through the Hamra and Al-Masraf Streets
Elias Bejjani/January 17/2020

http://eliasbejjaninews.com/archives/82385/elias-bejjani-blinded-amal-and-hezbollah-terrorists-and-thugs-are-missing-the-jerusalem-road-and-acting-as-if-it-passes-through-the-hamra-and-al-masraf-streets-%d8%b4%d8%a8%d9%8a%d8%ad%d8%a9-%d8%a7/
As always, the blinded and deceived Amal and Hezbollah Iranian thugs, and their hired local mercenaries are deliberately once again missing the road that leads to the liberation of Jerusalem.
Since yesterday these blinded terrorists are savagely portraying the Iranian anti Lebanese schemes through ongoing barbaric attacks targeting both the Hamra and banks streets in Beirut.
Apparently the ongoing evil big lie of liberation and resistance is overtly exposing itself via the attacks targeting the central Lebanese bank and all the other banks located in both Hamra and Bank streets.
According to the Iranian-Mullahs’ scheme, today the Jerusalem road passes through the Hamra and Bank Streets, and only God my predict where it will be tomorrow or after tomorrow.
In conclusion: Lebanon is an Iranian country through its terrorist armed proxy that is falsely called Hezbollah (Party Of God).
In the midst of this mess that is forced on Lebanon and the Lebanese, definitely there will be no solutions whatsoever in occupied Lebanon before the dissolution of Hezbollah, dismantling of its mimi-state, putting on trial all its leaders and the confiscation of all their property as well as that of Hezbollah, and most importantly the strict and immediate implementation of the three UN Resolutions that addresses Lebanon:
The Armistice agreement with the State of Israel
UN Resolution number 1559
UN Resolution number 1701.
Otherwise, Lebanon and the Lebanese will be facing more and more devastating crisis in all domains and all levels.

Amal and Hezbollah Thugs are mercenary Terrorists hired By the Iranian mullahs To Terrorise The Lebanese People
Elias Bejjani/January 17/2020
The savage, barbaric and stone age style invasion against the Lebanese banks in Beirut that was carried yesterday by Amal and Hezbollah thugs aims openly to intimidate their owners and cut all the Lebanese banks’ legal ties with the global banking system in a bid to defy the USA sanctions against Iran and Hezbollah. In conclusion, Lebanon is an Iranian occupied country, while the majority of its rulers, politicians and officials are mere puppets with no backbones.

No solutions in Lebanon without Dismantling Hezbollah and eradicating its Iranian cancerous occupation
Elias Bejjani/16 January/2020
http://eliasbejjaninews.com/archives/82321/elias-bejjani-the-occupier-hezbollah-stands-behind-all-acts-of-violence-chaos-corruption-%d8%a7%d9%84%d9%85%d8%ad%d8%aa%d9%84-%d8%ad%d8%b2%d8%a8-%d8%a7%d9%84%d9%84%d9%87-%d9%87%d9%88-%d9%88%d8%b1
To the revolutionaries, high rank clergymen, and to all those who are patriotic, sovereign and honourable in occupied Lebanon, the Land Of the Cedars: for heavens sake address and name loudly the occupier which is the terrorist and criminal Iranian Hezbollah, and stop your cowardice and Dhimmitude approaches. Witness for the truth and lead, or resign and let those who are courageous and capable to take the lead.

The Occupier Hezbollah Stands Behind All Acts Of Violence, chaos & Corruption
Elias Bejjani/January 15/2020
المحتل حزب الله هو وراء كل اعمال العنف والفساد والفوضى
http://eliasbejjaninews.com/archives/82321/elias-bejjani-the-occupier-hezbollah-stands-behind-all-acts-of-violence-chaos-corruption-%d8%a7%d9%84%d9%85%d8%ad%d8%aa%d9%84-%d8%ad%d8%b2%d8%a8-%d8%a7%d9%84%d9%84%d9%87-%d9%87%d9%88-%d9%88%d8%b1/

There is no shed of doubt that all acts of violence from all sorts, no matter big or small, that are taking place in Lebanon and criminally inflicted on the oppressed and impoverished Lebanese people are planned and executed by Hezbollah’s armed mercenaries, proxies and thugs.
The terrorist Iranian armed proxy, The so called Hezbollah, is directly or covertly fully accountable for all the hardships and all the miseries that the Lebanese people are encountering, including the current economic and banking sector devastating ongoing crisis.
The saddening reality that every Lebanese MUST grasp and act accordingly is that Lebanon is an Iranian occupied country by all means and in accordance to all legal and UN criteria.
According there will be no solutions in any domain, or at any level, before the full and immediate implementation of the three UN resolutions that address Lebanon:
The Armistice agreement, the 1559 and 1701 Resolutions.
Meanwhile, sadly, the majority of the Lebanese politicians from all religious denominational backgrounds and affiliations are mere puppets and do not serve Lebanon’s or the Lebanese interests and welfare, but serve evilly and narcissistically those of Hezbollah’s Iranian schemes.
It remains very obvious that all Lebanon’s officials including the president, house Speaker, Prime Minister, as well as all narcissistic owners of the so called falsely political parties have sold themselves and their dignity to the Hezbollah occupier with much more less than thirty pieces of silver.

A Revolution That Does Not Call For The Liberation Of Lebanon Is A mere Tool for the Occupier that is Hezbollah
Elias Bejjani/January 15/2020
A revolution that flaunts, hails and turns a blind eye on the Mullahs’ Iranian Hezbollah occupation, terrorism, crimes, trafficking, regional wars, and at the same time advocates for its big lie of resistance is definitely a revolution of hypocrisy. Such a revolution carries it own failure and only serves the occupier’s Iranian devastating agenda.

UK adds entire Hezbollah group to terror blacklist
Najia Houssari/Arab News/January 17, 2020
The group was established in 1982 by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and is an important part of a regional Tehran-led alliance known as “the axis of resistance.”Political wrangling continues in Lebanon over new govt with major political parties boycotting it
The US already designates Hezbollah as a terrorist organization
BEIRUT: The UK on Friday said it had added the whole Hezbollah movement to its terrorism blacklist and frozen all its assets. HM Treasury previously targeted the movement’s military wing, but the new sanctions classify all Hezbollah organizations and institutions under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing Act 2020 and freeze all its assets. Hezbollah had “publicly denied a distinction between its military and political wings,” the treasury said on its website. “The group in its entirety is assessed to be concerned in terrorism and was proscribed as a terrorist organisation in the UK in March 2019. This listing includes the Military Wing, the Jihad Council and all units reporting to it, including the External Security Organisation.” The sanctions come amid continued wrangling in Lebanon over the formation of a new government comprising 18 ministers from one political camp: Hezbollah and its allies. Three main political parties — the Future Movement, the Progressive Socialist Party and the Lebanese Forces — are boycotting the new government.
Former Prime Minister Najib Mikati said: “They claim that they are about to form a government of technocrats and specialists, at a time when they are openly disputing over shares and ministries, as if we are living in a normal situation with no crisis in the country, nor protesters in the streets.”
The country has been roiled by demonstrations, political instability and an economic crisis. Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s government resigned on Oct. 29, two weeks after the start of peaceful protests against tax increases and corruption.
Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab was tasked last month to form a new government and there were hopes a new cabinet would be formed by the end of this week. Hariri has become more vocal about the obstacles blighting political negotiations, saying Thursday evening that the ones who fought his politics were also the ones who had brought the country to this “crisis situation.”Hezbollah had previously said it wanted him to head the new government, but the group’s Deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Naim Qassem recently criticized the policies of previous governments that were characterized with “financial waste, corruption, and protection of law breakers.”
These factors had, he warned, put Lebanon on the track leading to a “great economic and social crisis.”
“There will always be those who are not content with anything, those who have legitimate suspicions, and those who consider that they were excluded and who will try to obstruct the path of the government so that it would not succeed,” he added. Former minister Pierre Raffoul, from the Free Patriotic Movement, accused Hariri of playing “an essential role” in obstructing the formation of the new government. Public affairs expert Dr. Walid Fakhreddin ruled out a new government being formed soon but said the delay had more to do with regional developments, including the assassination of Iran’s Qassem Soleimani. But protesters are keeping up the pressure on authorities and institutions, with banks the focus of widespread anger.  Video footage showed a woman confronting protesters while they were smashing the glass of banks on Hamra Street. She can be heard asking where they are from, then telling them to go elsewhere. “Shame on you for terrorizing the inhabitants of Beirut,” she said.

UK adds entire Hezbollah movement to terror blacklist
AFP/January 17/2020
The change requires any individual or institution in Britain with accounts or financial services connected to Hezbollah to suspend them or face prosecution.
LONDON – Britain’s finance ministry on Friday said it had added Lebanon’s entire Hezbollah movement to its list of terrorist groups subject to asset freezing.The ministry previously only targeted the Shia movement’s military wing but has now listed the whole group after the government designated it a terrorist organisation last March. The change requires any individual or institution in Britain with accounts or financial services connected to Hezbollah to suspend them or face prosecution. The group had “publicly denied a distinction between its military and political wings,” the Treasury said in a notice posted on its website. “The group in its entirety is assessed to be concerned in terrorism and was proscribed as a terrorist organisation in the UK in March 2019,” it added. “This listing includes the Military Wing, the Jihad Council and all units reporting to it, including the External Security Organisation.” Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, said the United States was “very pleased” with the decision, adding that it had long been seeking such a move from European allies. “We would like to congratulate the United Kingdom,” he told reporters in Washington. “There is no distinction between Hezbollah’s political arm and its military arm.” The Treasury in London said the change followed its annual review of the asset freezing register, and brought it into line with the 2019 decision by the interior minister to blacklist all of Hezbollah. “The UK remains committed to the stability of Lebanon and the region, and we continue to work closely with our Lebanese partners,” a spokesman said. Hezbollah is a Shia militant movement established in 1982 during the Lebanese civil war by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. Its capture of two Israeli soldiers in 2006 sparked a 34-day war in which 1,200 people were killed. The group is seen as a key component of Shiite-majority Iran’s strategy for regional influence. Britain’s move comes amid heightened tensions in the Middle East, after the US killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in an air strike earlier this month. Tehran retaliated by firing a volley of missiles at US troops stationed in Iraqi military bases. Britain currently proscribes 75 international terrorist organisations under terrorism legislation passed in 2000.(AFP)

UK Expands Hezbollah Asset Freeze, Targets Entire Group
London- Asharq Al-Awsat/January 17/2020
Britain’s Treasury said it has designated the entire Hezbollah organization as a terrorist group under its Terrorism and Terrorist Financing rules, and as such its assets will be frozen. Previously it was only Hezbollah’s Military Wing which was subject to asset freezing under UK government rules.
Hezbollah, a heavily armed group designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, was established in 1982 by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and is an important part of a regional Tehran-led alliance known as “the axis of resistance”. In February 2019, the British government announced that it was no longer possible for them to distinguish between the political and the military wings of Hezbollah. “It is clear the distinction between Hezbollah’s military and political wings does not exist, and by proscribing Hezbollah in all its forms, the government is sending a clear signal that its destabilizing activities in the region are totally unacceptable and detrimental to the UK’s national security,” Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said back then.

U.S. ‘Very Pleased’ with British Blacklisting of Hizbullah
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/January 17/2020
Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Iran, said Friday that the United States was “very pleased” with the UK’s decision to add the entire Hizbullah group to its list of terrorist organizations subject to asset freezing, adding that Washington had long been seeking such a move from European allies.
“We would like to congratulate the United Kingdom,” he told reporters in Washington. “There is no distinction between Hizbullah’s political arm and its military arm,” Hook added. Britain’s finance ministry previously only targeted Hizbullah’s military wing but has now listed the whole group after the British government designated it a terrorist organization last March. The change requires any individual or institution in Britain with accounts or financial services connected to Hizbullah to suspend them or face prosecution. The group had “publicly denied a distinction between its military and political wings,” the British Treasury said in a notice posted on its website. “The group in its entirety is assessed to be concerned in terrorism and was proscribed as a terrorist organization in the UK in March 2019,” it added. “This listing includes the Military Wing, the Jihad Council and all units reporting to it, including the External Security Organization,” it said.

Hezbollah warns of ‘chaos’ if Lebanon government delayed
The Associated Press, Beirut/Friday, 17 January 2020
A senior Hezbollah official warned Friday that Lebanon could fall into chaos and “complete collapse” unless a new government is formed. Sheikh Ali Daamoush’s comments came amid more bickering between politicians on the formation of a new Cabinet amid a crippling financial crisis and ongoing mass protests against the country’s ruling elite. Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab had been expected to announce an 18-member Cabinet on Friday, but last minute disputes among political factions scuttled his latest attempt. Lebanon has been without a government since Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned Oct. 29 amid nationwide protests against corruption and mismanagement by a political class that has been running the country since the end of the 1975-90 civil war.Panic and anger gripped the public as they watched their local currency, pegged to the dollar for almost three decades, plummet, losing more than 60 percent of its value in recent weeks on the black market. Meanwhile, banks have imposed informal capital controls, limiting withdrawal of dollars and foreign transfers from the country. The economy has worsened since mass protests began Oct. 17, turning violent in recent weeks as anger mounts. Earlier this week, protesters carried out acts of vandalism, targeting mostly banks. The eastern Bekaa Valley on Wednesday night witnessed sectarian attacks unseen in years. That raised alarm the political, economic, financial and social crisis could get out of control. “We see that it is necessary to form a Cabinet as soon as possible because we know that the crisis which the country and people are suffering from cannot be solved without a Cabinet,” Daamoush said during the Friday prayers sermon.
“Losing the opportunity to form a government now means that the country is headed into chaos, disorder and total collapse,” Daamoush warned. Following a meeting between Diab and the parliament speaker on Thursday, news spread that the new government with 18 ministers will most likely be announced Friday. But a person taking part in negotiations for the government formation told The Associated Press on Friday “there are some problems” they are trying to solve. He said some political groups are insisting the government be made up of 24 ministers to have more representation, while Diab is insisting on 18. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Protesters have already rejected the new Cabinet saying that although it is going to be made up of experts, the ministers are named by the political groups they blame for Lebanon’s problems. The protest movement is insisting that the government be made of independent technocrats.

Lebanese block roads as protests enter fourth month
AFP, Beirut/Friday, 17 January 2020
Protesters blocked several main roads across Lebanon on Friday as unprecedented demonstrations against a political elite accused of corruption and incompetence entered their fourth month. The protest movement rocking Lebanon since October 17 has resurged this week, over delays in forming a new cabinet to address the country’s growing economic crisis. No progress seemed to have been made on a final lineup, which protesters demand be made up solely of independent experts and empty of traditional political parties. In central Beirut, dozens of protesters Friday stood between parked cars blocking a key thoroughfare linking the city’s east and west. “We blocked the road because it’s something they can’t move,” Marwan Karam said. The protester condemned what he regarded as efforts to form yet another government representing the usual carve-up of power between the traditional parties.
“We don’t want a government of masked political figures,” the 30-year-old told AFP. “Any such government will fall. We won’t give it any chance in the street.”Forming a new cabinet is often a drawn-out process in Lebanon, where a complex system seeks to maintain balance between the various political parties and a multitude of religious confessions. Nearby, Carlos Yammine, 32, said he did not want yet another “cake-sharing government”. “What we have asked for from the start of the movement is a reduced, transitional, emergency government of independents,” he said, leaning against his car. Elsewhere, demonstrators closed roads including in Lebanon’s second city of Tripoli, though some were later reopened, the National News Agency said. The protest movement is in part fuelled by the worst economic crisis that Lebanon has witnessed since its 1975-1990 civil war. The protests this week saw angry demonstrators attack banks following the imposition of sharp curbs on cash withdrawals to stem a liquidity crisis. On Thursday night, protesters vandalised three more banks in the capital’s Hamra district, smashing their glass fronts and graffitiing ATMs, an AFP photographer said.
Earlier, Lebanon’s security services released most of the 100-plus protesters detained over the previous 48 hours, lawyers said.

Reporter Hurt as Protesters Briefly Clash with Security Forces in Hamra
Naharnet/January 17/2020
A brief confrontation erupted Friday evening between anti-government protesters and security forces on Beirut’s Hamra Street. The skirmishes started after some protesters hurled bottles, stones and firecrackers at security forces outside the central bank, which prompted riot police to chase them to the end of Hamra Street. Some protesters had earlier hurled “Molotov cocktails and rocks” into the premises of the central bank as others removed the barbed wire. Al-Jadeed TV reporter Adam Chamseddine was injured by a flying stone which struck his head as he was covering the demo.
Calm later returned to the street as protesters gathered anew and chanted slogans outside the central bank.

Protesters Brave Rain to Rally in Beirut, Tripoli, Tyre
Naharnet/January 17/2020
Anti-government protesters on Friday braved rain and a stormy weather to stage fresh demos against the ruling class and the banking policies. The protesters rallied near parliament in downtown Beirut, outside the central bank in Hamra, on the capital’s Ring highway, in the northern city of Tripoli and in the southern city of Tyre. The demos have so far remained peaceful, in contrast to the violence of the past few days. Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab had been expected to announce an 18-member Cabinet on Friday, but last minute disputes among political factions scuttled his latest attempt. Lebanon has been without a government since Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned Oct. 29 amid nationwide protests against corruption and mismanagement by a political class that has been running the country since the end of the 1975-90 civil war. Panic and anger have gripped the public as they watch their local currency, pegged to the dollar for almost three decades, plummet, losing more than 60% of its value in recent weeks on the black market. Meanwhile, banks have imposed informal capital controls, limiting withdrawal of dollars and foreign transfers from the country. The economy has worsened since mass protests began Oct. 17, turning violent in recent weeks as anger mounts. Earlier this week, protesters carried out acts of vandalism, targeting mostly banks. Protesters have already rejected the new Cabinet saying that although it is going to be made up of experts, the ministers are named by the political groups they blame for Lebanon’s problems. The protest movement is insisting that the government be made of independent technocrats.

Protesters Block Roads as Protests Enter Fourth Month
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/January 17/2020
Protesters blocked several main roads across Lebanon on Friday as unprecedented demonstrations against a political elite accused of corruption and incompetence entered their fourth month. The protest movement rocking Lebanon since October 17 has resurged this week, over delays in forming a new cabinet to address the country’s growing economic crisis. No progress seemed to have been made on a final lineup, which protesters demand be made up solely of independent experts and empty of traditional political parties. In central Beirut, dozens of protesters Friday stood between parked cars blocking a key thoroughfare linking the city’s east and west. “We blocked the road because it’s something they can’t move,” Marwan Karam said. The protester condemned what he regarded as efforts to form yet another government representing the usual carve-up of power between the traditional parties. “We don’t want a government of masked political figures,” the 30-year-old told AFP. “Any such government will fall. We won’t give it any chance in the street.” Forming a new cabinet is often a drawn-out process in Lebanon, where a complex system seeks to maintain balance between the various political parties and a multitude of religious confessions. Nearby, Carlos Yammine, 32, said he did not want yet another “cake-sharing government”. “What we have asked for from the start of the movement is a reduced, transitional, emergency government of independents,” he said, leaning against his car.
Elsewhere, demonstrators closed roads including in Lebanon’s second city of Tripoli, though some were later reopened, the National News Agency said. The protest movement is in part fuelled by the worst economic crisis that Lebanon has witnessed since its 1975-1990 civil war. The protests this week saw angry demonstrators attack banks following the imposition of sharp curbs on cash withdrawals to stem a liquidity crisis. On Thursday night, protesters vandalised three more banks in the capital’s Hamra district, smashing their glass fronts and graffitiing ATMs, an AFP photographer said. Earlier, Lebanon’s security services released most of the 100-plus protesters detained over the previous 48 hours, lawyers said.

Lebanon releases protesters as rights groups slam security forces
Al Jazeera/January 17/2020
Human rights groups criticise Lebanese security forces and call for investigations into recent crackdown.
Lebanon’s security forces have released most of the more than 100 anti-government protesters arrested after two nights of violent encounters between police and demonstrators in the capital, Beirut. While the months-long protest movement has been largely peaceful, demonstrators clashed with security forces on Tuesday and Wednesday, with a committee of lawyers defending demonstrators saying 101 people had been arrested, including 56 on Wednesday, with five minors among them.The lawyers’ committee announced on Facebook on Thursday that “all those arrested have been released with the exception of seven foreigners”.The detained foreigners – six Syrians and an Egyptian – will be brought before authorities, the committee added.
Protesters gathered again in Beirut on Thursday evening in front of the Central Bank and interior ministry, where several hundred demonstrators denounced police use of force and outgoing Minister of the Interior Raya al-Hassan. Lebanese security forces announced that 59 people were arrested on suspicion of vandalism and assault on Tuesday when protesters angered by stringent informal capital controls attacked banks in central Beirut. “Under popular pressure, the detained have been released two days after a hysterical crackdown,” Nizar Saghieh, who heads the Legal Agenda non-governmental organisation, wrote on Twitter.
‘Vicious’ riot police
International human rights organisations have criticised the conduct of security forces, with Amnesty International denouncing what it said were “arbitrary arrests”. “What we have witnessed in the past couple of days is an alarming attack on freedom of assembly and expression,” said the group’s Middle East research director Lynn Maalouf. “Acts by a minority of protesters who vandalised banks or threw stones is never a justification for such excessive use of force and sweeping arrests by law enforcement.”Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Lebanon’s Ministry of Interior and Municipalities to “promptly hold law enforcement officers accountable for using excessive force,” saying riot police had beaten protesters and media workers. “The unacceptable level of violence against overwhelmingly peaceful protesters on January 15 calls for a swift independent and transparent investigation,” said Joe Stork, HRW’s deputy Middle East director. “The vicious riot police attack on media workers doing their jobs is an egregious violation of security force obligations to abide by human rights standards.”Interior minister al-Hassan said in a tweet that she condemned the attacks on journalists, and that accountability proceedings were already under way. She later told reporters that, while the attacks were not justified, riot police were tired after months of protests. Protesters have taken to the streets since October to demand an end to corruption among Lebanon’s ruling elite and an overhaul of the confessional political system, where power is apportioned among ethnic and sectarian groups. Lebanon has been without a government since October 29, when the cabinet resigned under pressure from the protest movement. A former education minister and university professor Hassan Diab was nominated as a new prime minister last month and tasked with forming a new cabinet, but demonstrators have called for a government of independent technocrats to steer the country through its economic crisis.Local media reported that a new cabinet could be named on Friday, while caretaker Minister of Finance Ali Hassan Khalil said on Thursday that politicians were “on the doorstep of forming a new government”.

Reports: Hizbullah Seeks to Resolve Govt. Hurdles amid Calls for Enlarging It
Naharnet/January 17/2020
Hizbullah is exerting strenuous efforts to facilitate the formation of the new government and it might propose giving the industry portfolio to the Druze community in return for the social affairs portfolio in a bid to resolve this obstacle, MTV reported on Friday. “Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab is meanwhile still insisting on keeping the number of ministers at 18,” MTV added. It also quoted an informed source as saying that President Michel Aoun will name the economy minister and that a suggestion to “merge it with the defense portfolio” has not been accepted because it is “illogical.”Baabda sources meanwhile told LBCI television that all the new obstacles that have emerged are eleventh-hour hurdles, suggesting that the government’s formation is still imminent. “All talk of a dispute between President Aoun and PM-designate Hassan Diab is baseless,” the sources added. The sources also denied that Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil is the one obstructing the formation of the government, noting that “the Druze obstacle has been resolved in agreement with Hizbullah and the Marada obstacle is artificial.”Bassil is “not seeking a one-third veto power” in Cabinet, the sources added. Sources close to Diab meanwhile told al-Jadeed TV that the PM-designate wants the government to “enjoy credibility and represent a positive shock.”“It should gain the confidence of the Lebanese and it should be welcomed by the Arab and international communities,” the sources added, noting that “any attempt to distort the image of the cabinet line-up will weaken its ability to confront the economic, financial and social disaster.”

Report: Berri, Bassil to Meet on Govt. Formation
Naharnet/January 17/2020
Speaker Nabih Berri and caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil will likely meet soon reportedly to resolve a new setback that delayed the formation of a new government that was expected to be announced this week, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Friday. The daily said the two men will meet to “provide a solution (for the hurdle) after which it will be informed to PM-designate Hassan Diab, who in turn will act on its basis and meet with President Michel Aoun to decide on the subsequent constitutional stages and issue government decrees.”Efforts to form a new government suffered a new setback Thursday evening, after optimism surged in the wake of a meeting between Berri and Diab. The last-minute snags were reportedly related to the ministerial shares of the Marada Movement of Sleiman Franjieh and MP Talal Arslan.

Al-Hassan Calls for Continuing ISF Probe in Protest Violence
Naharnet/January 17/2020
Caretaker Interior Minister Raya al-Hassan on Friday asked Internal Security Forces Inspector General Col. Fadi Saliba to “continue the investigations that the ISF Directorate General is conducting into the incidents of the past 48 hours.” Al-Hassan stressed that injured protesters can submit complaints with the ISF’s inspection department. She also urged demonstrators to “maintain the peaceful nature of protests and avoid attacking public and private property.”Security forces on Thursday released most of the 100-plus anti-government protesters detained in the past 48 hours, lawyers told AFP, after two nights of violent demonstrations in Beirut. Demonstrators have denounced police use of force while Amnesty International has denounced what it said were “arbitrary arrests.””What we have witnessed in the past couple of days is an alarming attack on freedom of assembly and expression,” said the watchdog’s Middle East research director Lynn Maalouf. “Acts by a minority of protesters who vandalized banks or threw stones is never a justification for such excessive use of force and sweeping arrests by law enforcement,” she added. ISF chief Maj. Gen. Imad Othman on Thursday apologized to journalists and media outlets following a night of violent demos that involved assaults on journalists at the hands of ISF members. “The ISF members are not robots and they err as every human,” Othman explained. He lamented that policemen are “facing great violence and infiltrators who have criminal records.”

Al-Rahi Slams Those Impeding Govt. Formation as ‘Lebanon Enemies’
Naharnet/January 17/2020
Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Friday blasted those obstructing the government’s formation as “Lebanon’s enemies.”“The government was not formed this week because, as everyone knows, the obstructors have returned to the approach of splitting shares, which means a return to the previous situation,” al-Rahi said. “Their behavior obliges our young men and women to remain on the streets and in the squares despite their sacrifices and suffering,” the patriarch added. “Tonight I want to announce that anyone obstructing the formation of the anticipated government is more and more plunging Lebanon into its financial and economic crisis… With this behavior, they are antagonizing the Lebanese people, who are emigrating, and they are antagonizing Lebanon and its institutions,” al-Rahi said. “I call them Lebanon’s enemies,” he added. Al-Rahi also suggested that “those obstructing are the same ones who sent infiltrators to carry out acts of rioting, vandalize a number of public institutions and banks, and attack public and private property.”“These people do not want the state of Lebanon nor the welfare of its people,” the patriarch added.

Dar el-Fatwa Denies Interference in Govt. Formation
Naharnet/January 17/2020
Dar el-Fatwa on Friday slammed reports claiming that Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Abdul Latif Deryan is interfering in the formation of a government. Media office of Dar el-Fatwa, Lebanon’s highest Sunni authority, said in a statement that “a local Lebanese newspaper claimed that Dar el-Fatwa has interfered in forming the government or naming candidates to assume specific portfolios in the new cabinet which are totally false. “Grand Mufti of the Lebanese Republic Sheikh Abdul Latif Deryan did not participate in forming the government and all claims attributed to him regarding some of the names nominated for ministers in the government are pure analysis and untrue,” added the statement. An-Nahar newspaper had published an article alleging that Dar el-Fatwa asked PM-designate Hassan Diab to name Bassam Barghot for the portfolio of interior ministry.

President Aoun, First Lady participate in Antonine Order mass upon St. Anthony’s Great Feast
NNA/January 17/2020
The President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, and the first Lebanese woman, Mrs. Nadia Al-Shami Aoun, participated in the ceremonial Divine Liturgy mass, held by the Antonine Order, on the occasion of St. Anthony’s Great Feast, in the Church of St. Anthony-Hadath. The event was chaired by the General President, Father Maroun Abou Jaoudeh, and assisted by Fathers, George Sadaka and Pierre Sfeir. The Mass was attended by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Gebran Bassil, MPs: Alain Aoun and Hekmat Dib, Former Minister, Al Bustani, Former MP, Naji Gharios, and his wife, Director General of the Lebanese Presidency, Dr. Antoine Choucair, Director General of the Ministry of Education, Fadi Yaraq, Director of Intelligence, Brigadier, Tony Mansour, Director of Mount Lebanon Intelligence, Brigadier Clement Saad, Commander of the Gendarmerie, Brigadier Marwan Sleilati, Mayor of Hadath, George Aoun and his wife, and a number of Monks.
Father Sadaka’s Speech:
“Your Excellency President General Michel Aoun and the First Lady, dear friends, Like every year, the feast of St. Anthony brings us together in his monastery, so you are welcome, because you have become from the people of this house, but rather from the mass of monks who try to follow the path of Saint Anthony with faith, courage and impartiality. Some people may ask about the meeting this year, as the country passes through a dark tunnel, for this reason we insist on this meeting because our faith motivates us to challenge the event and darkness, for Christ is the master of hope where it is hopeless. We meet to pray with St. Anthony who, by praying, fought the evil one and triumphed to give us courage, patience and strive until Lebanon triumphed over evil, darkness and death. Among the virtues of St. Anthony is the firm and brave stance when he heard the voice of the Lord the Gospel: “If you want to be perfect, go and sell everything and give it to the poor and come, follow me”. The Saint answered the call with a firm voice without retreat, and many understood it wrong and considered that his resignation from the life on earth is an escape from the face of life, fear and cowardice, while this Saint went to the desert which symbolizes evil and emptiness, it is a brave and heroic act because he went to fight the villain in his own home. This courage and firmness made him win. O God, increase the courage and determination of our President to rise up in this country and return it to prosperity.
Your Excellency, let me highlight the crisis in schools, which is dangerous because when the country loses knowledge and culture, it has lost the essentials of life and progress. We are awaiting the formation of the Government because time is running out and hunger is on the doorstep, disease is ruthless and banks are in danger. It is not enough for the Government to be formed but to be active and composed from people of conscience, and to give a role to the youth. I must pay tribute to the security forces, especially to the Lebanese army, headed by Commander General Joseph Aoun, for all the efforts it exerted under the guidance of your Excellency, in order to maintain security and spare the country all chaos, civil, and sectarian war which is looming in some areas. You are thanked and supported to keep a free and independent Lebanon. Allow me, Your Excellency, to reiterate the importance of Christian reconciliation, which is the basis of national reconciliation. Also, allow me to thank, Minister Bassil, Honorable Representatives, and the mayor of Haddad, Mr. George Aoun, for all efforts, works and stances”. Afterwards, Father Abou Jaoudeh presented the icon of the Virgin Mary, which is made by the Antonine Institute in Dekwaneh, as a memorial gift to President Aoun. After the Mass, the President, First Lebanese and Father Abou Jaoudeh, were offered congratulations on the occasion, and attended the lunch which was held by the Monastery. The lunch was also attended by Mount Lebanon Governor, Judge Mohammed Mekkawi. —-Presidency Press Office

Bassil, Sweid ink memorandum of cooperation between IDAL, Lebanese missions
NNA/January 17/2020
Caretaker Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Minister, Gebran Bassil, and President of the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL), Mazen Sweid, on Friday signed a memorandum of cooperation aimed at organizing relations between “IDAL” and the Lebanese missions abroad. Among the key objectives of this memorandum: to develop the necessary studies to define Lebanese exports’ markets and help attract foreign capital to Lebanon in light of the current economic conditions. Minister Bassil stressed “the importance of this memorandum in terms of promoting Lebanon abroad,” calling for the highest levels of cooperation with the ministry and all institutions in the interest of the national economy.

Hassan lauds ISF professionalism, says harmed protesters can file complaints
NNA/January 17/2020
Caretaker Minister of Interior and Municipalities, Raya Hassan, on Friday extolled “the utmost preparedness of the Internal Security Forces and the professionalism of its agents under the command of Major General Imad Othman.”
“The ISF is assuming its duty within the limits of the laws; any contravention by its members is subject to accountability by its command,” Hassan said. Within this context, she indicated that she had asked the ISF Inspector General to follow up on the investigations into the latest events in Beirut. She also stressed that damaged protesters could file complaints before the ISF General Inspectorate. Lastly, she called upon citizens to protest peacefully and avoid attacks on public and private properties.

Boustani signs decree on household gas importation
NNA/January 17/2020
Caretaker Water and Energy Minister Nada Boustani on Friday announced during a press conference held at the Ministry that she had signed a decree instructing Lebanon Oil Installations to import household gas for the domestic market.
“The [household gas] importation rate will be at least 35%,” Minister Boustani said during the press conference, adding that the process shall take four months. Boustani also pointed out that “the decision taken today is part of a coherent plan for this sector,” adding “had it not been for our step to import gasoline, a crisis would have occurred in the past weeks, and therefore this decision is strategic for the state.”She stressed that “the importation of gas will be carried out through competitive bidding, as is the case for gasoline and diesel, and that all eligible companies can participate.”

Lebanon partakes in MedArtSal meeting in Rome to promote sustainable management of artisanal salinas in Mediterranean
NNA/January 17/2020
The eight partners of the project MedArtSal – sustainable management model for Mediterranean Artisanal Salinas are gathering today in Rome on 18 January for the kick off meeting of this initiative funded by the European Programme ENI CBC MED 2014- 2020 with a total budget of € 3.2 million and an EU contribution of € 2.9 million (90%).Artisanal salinas across the Mediterranean are today facing many pressures due to profound socioeconomic changes that have affected productive activities. The MedArtSal project that is being launched in Rome, aims to promote the multifunctional use of the artisanal salinas to diversify socioeconomic activity generating revenues in terms of good quality salt production, but also by obtaining other products that can be commercialized, or by exploring their potential for tourism, while respecting the natural values of the sites. The project will address common challenges for artisanal salinas in four Mediterranean countries (Italy, Spain, Lebanon and Tunisia), with 10 pilot actions for the development of new products/services in selected salinas and 2 demonstration projects on the diversification of salinas products (i.e. food and cosmetics) and services (i.e. HO.RE.CA) carried out in La Esperanza, Cلdiz (Spain) and Sidi AlHani (Tunisia). “Investing in artisanal salinas means preserving our cultural heritage and landscape, local development and biodiversity. The final aim is to develop a sustainable and adaptable management model fostering the territorial valorisation of artisanal salinas in the Mediterranean region”, says Gaetano Zarlenga, General Manager at University Consortium for Industrial and Managerial Economics, (CUEIM), Italy. The main beneficiaries of this project will be artisanal salinas and salt producers, small and medium enterprises around these sites and local communities from the Mediterranean region. The project has a duration of 3 years and is led by CUEIM – University Consortium for Industrial and Managerial Economics (Italy) and involves the following partners: Association for the Development of Rural Capacities (Lebanon), Fair Trade Lebanon (Lebanon), IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation (Spain), Mediterranean Sea and Coast Foundation (Italy), Saida Society (Tunisia), University of Cلdiz (Spain), and Tuniso-Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Tunisia).-IUCN

The clock is ticking on Lebanese leaders to act
The National/January 17/2020
Angry protesters have attacked banks as a financial crisis hits and the country is left without leadership
As turmoil sweeps the Middle East, the eyes of the world have lost sight of the ongoing uprisings in Iraq, but also in Lebanon. After weeks of relative calm, the Lebanese people have vowed to relaunch nationwide protests in what they have dubbed a “week of wrath”.
The Lebanese have a lot to be angry about. Their country is going through a crippling economic crisis and, for the past thirty years, it has been led by an elite that has largely failed to meet the population’s basic needs. Lebanon has been without a government for more than two months after a popular uprising led Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his Cabinet to resign. Mr Hariri stated at the time that he wanted to heed the calls of those calling for a better future for Lebanon. The country has been suffering from electricity shortages for the past three decades, however, in the last week, it has endured even longer cuts, with some Beirut residents reporting less than 30 minutes of electricity per day. An internet shutdown is also on the horizon. Telecommunication companies have expressed fears that the government will be unable to pay them for their services by March.
The Lebanese have a lot to be angry about. Their country is going through a crippling economic crisis and for the past thirty years, it has been led by a corrupt elite
Adding to people’s woes, a financial crisis of unprecedented proportions has hit the country since November. Lebanon has been downgraded by Moody’s and other credit rating agencies twice in a year, and the Lebanese pound has lost half of its value to the American dollar on the black market. A shortage of dollars, to which the pound is pegged and that is used interchangeably with the local currency, has pushed banks to impose informal capital controls. The draconian measures include a cap on foreign currency withdrawals of $200 per week, a ban on transferring money abroad, as well as refusing people access to their frozen accounts. As a result, most companies have downsized or halved their employees’ salaries and many businesses have gone bankrupt.
Frustration is in the air, as Lebanese are forced to queue for hours at their local bank, only to withdraw a couple hundred dollars. Many fear their life savings are as good as gone. The situation has fuelled anger at the banking system, with protesters staging demonstrations in front of Lebanon’s Central bank. Some have even resorted to violence, setting the very banks where they keep their savings on fire, or smashing their windows in desperation.
The Lebanese are also angry at many of their leaders, who seem completely disconnected from the woes of ordinary people. Hezbollah’s elusive leader Hassan Nasrallah has given three televised speeches since the beginning of the month, only to speak about retaliation for the US killing of Iran’s military chief Qassem Suleimani. He has vowed revenge for Suleimani’s death, completely ignoring the struggle of millions of people, many among his constituents, who have lost their jobs and are finding it harder to make ends meet.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun has also failed to speak for his people. The founder of the Hezbollah-allied Free Patriotic Movement, Lebanon’s biggest Christian party, has been part of the political system for decades. He has been in power since 2016, and was a member of parliament for 15 years. But instead of taking responsibility for his nation’s economic problems or providing solutions, he only said that choosing the right people for the next government takes time, and blamed Syrian refugees (whom he refers to as “migrants”) for the country’s many issues.
Many had placed their hopes on Hassan Diab, who was designated prime minister by Hezbollah and their allies in December. Mr Diab had vowed to form a small Cabinet of non-affiliated experts, as demanded by protesters, in six weeks or less. Nearly a month has passed since his nomination, and the country still has no government. Tension between Mr Diab and the Iran-backed parties that nominated him seem to be delaying government formation. The political elites must make room for positive change. The country’s future and the livelihoods of millions depend on it.

Ghosn lawyers say new Nissan claims against former exec are false
AP, Tokyo/Friday, 17 January 2020
The legal team of Nissan’s former chairman Carlos Ghosn issued a statement Friday refuting the latest allegations by the Japanese automaker against the fugitive businessman. Nissan Motor Co. on Thursday filed a new set of allegations to the Tokyo Stock Exchange against Ghosn, who skipped bail and fled to Lebanon earlier this month, saying he could not get a fair trial in Japan. The lawyers said that Nissan’s complaints were biased and that it never questioned Ghosn about them. They also said Nissan never tried to interview Ghosn or Greg Kelly, another former executive facing charges of financial misconduct, or “bothered to solicit their knowledge of the facts.”His lawyers also complained that Latham & Watkins, which conducted the investigation, had long been Nissan’s outside counsel. Nissan confirmed both were true, but denied there was any conflict of interest. Ghosn’s legal team also complained that Nissan waited for months to investigate Ghosn’s successor, former Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa, and only after Kelly publicly raised concerns. Saikawa resigned last year over allegations about dubious income. He has not been charged. “This report confirms that Nissan’s investigation was biased, lacked integrity and independence, and was designed and executed for the predetermined purpose of taking out Carlos Ghosn,” Frank Pasquier and the other lawyers said in a statement. Both Ghosn and Kelly say they are innocent. Ghosn was charged with under-reporting his future compensation and breach of trust in diverting Nissan money for personal gain. He says the compensation was never decided on or paid, and the payments were for legitimate business. Kelly is accused of helping Ghosn underreport his income. Yokohama-based Nissan says Ghosn “single-handedly” decided on his compensation. It has promised to beef up corporate governance since the arrest of Ghosn in November 2018. Japan and Lebanon do not have an extradition treaty. Experts say it is virtually impossible to continue Ghosn’s trial in Japan. Kelly and Nissan as a company are still expected to stand trial.

Ghosn Lawyers Rebut New Nissan Claims against Fugitive Exec
Associated Press/Naharnet/January 17/2020
The legal team of Nissan’s former chairman Carlos Ghosn issued a statement Friday refuting the latest allegations by the Japanese automaker against the fugitive businessman.
Nissan Motor Co. on Thursday filed a new set of allegations to the Tokyo Stock Exchange against Ghosn, who skipped bail and fled to Lebanon, saying he could not get a fair trial in Japan. The lawyers said that Nissan’s complaints were biased and that it never questioned Ghosn about them. They also said Nissan never tried to interview Ghosn or Greg Kelly, another former executive facing charges of financial misconduct, or “bothered to solicit their knowledge of the facts.” His lawyers also complained that Latham & Watkins, which conducted the investigation, had long been Nissan’s outside counsel.
Nissan confirmed both were true, but denied there was any conflict of interest. The company said it considered it inappropriate to contact Ghosn or Kelly because the company and they were co-defendants. Ghosn’s legal team also complained that Nissan waited for months to investigate Ghosn’s successor, former Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa, and only after Kelly publicly raised concerns. Saikawa resigned last year over allegations about dubious income. He has not been charged. “This report confirms that Nissan’s investigation was biased, lacked integrity and independence, and was designed and executed for the predetermined purpose of taking out Carlos Ghosn,” the lawyers said in a statement. Both Ghosn and Kelly say they are innocent. Ghosn was charged with under-reporting his future compensation and breach of trust in diverting Nissan money for personal gain. He says the compensation was never decided on or paid, and the payments were for legitimate business. Kelly is accused of helping Ghosn underreport his income. Yokohama-based Nissan says Ghosn “single-handedly” decided on his compensation. It has promised to beef up corporate governance since the arrest of Ghosn in November 2018.Japan and Lebanon do not have an extradition treaty. Experts say it is virtually impossible to continue Ghosn’s trial in Japan. Kelly and Nissan as a company are still expected to stand trial.

Turkey Releases Images of Alleged Ghosn Accomplices
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/January 17/2020
Turkey’s state news agency has published images of two men accused of helping fugitive businessman Carlos Ghosn escape via an Istanbul airport, as he fled a corruption trial in Japan. The security camera images, first made public on Thursday, show Michael Taylor and George Antoine Zayek at passport control in Istanbul Airport, according to state news agency Anadolu. The Wall Street Journal described Taylor as a former US special forces operative now working as a private security contractor. Ghosn, the former boss of carmaker Nissan, fled from Japan reportedly by hiding inside an audio equipment box, later giving a news conference in Lebanon. He has refused to comment on the details of his escape.  Turkish police say he disembarked on foot at the smaller Ataturk Airport and transferred to another private jet for Lebanon. Anadolu’s report suggests Taylor and Zayek accompanied Ghosn from Japan to Turkey, but then transferred across town to Istanbul’s main airport and took a separate flight to Beirut with Middle East Airlines. Turkey has arrested five people as part of its investigation into the escape, including employees of MNG, the private jet firm used by Ghosn. The firm says its aircraft were used illegally in the escape and has filed a criminal complaint.

Indian Embassy in Lebanon disseminates article on ‘Understanding India’s Citizenship Amendment Act’
NNA/January 17/2020
The Indian Embassy in Lebanon on Friday circulated an article titled “Understanding India’s Citizenship Amendment Act”. The article is written by Mr. Rajiv Sikri, a retired Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs.
“A widespread and unseemly controversy has broken out in India over the Citizenship Amendment Act passed by the Indian Parliament in December 2019 that fast tracks Indian citizenship for persecuted minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, Jain and Parsi faiths. This brings closure to a sad and messy legacy of the Partition of India in 1947 when the new, expressly Muslim, state of Pakistan was carved out of India. There were widespread bloodshed and killings in both India and Pakistan as millions of Hindus and Sikhs migrated from Punjab, Sindh and Northwest Frontier Province of West Pakistan (now Pakistan) to India, and Muslims, mostly from Punjab, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh in India migrated to West Pakistan. Many Hindus and Sikhs living in Afghanistan also migrated to India since there was an open, undefined border and free movement of people between Afghanistan and undivided India. However, the exchange of populations was not comprehensive. Some chose not to migrate, others just couldn’t manage to do so. On the India-East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) border, although the Partition was less violent and bloody, there has been a steady inflow of Hindu refugees into India from East Pakistan/Bangladesh over the last seven decades.
Religious minorities have suffered enormously in Pakistan, and to a lesser extent in Bangladesh (till recently), as well as in Afghanistan. All three countries are today officially Islamic states where Muslims enjoy special rights and privileges, while minorities continue to be discriminated against, humiliated and persecuted. Many have been forcibly converted to Islam.
Women belonging to the minority communities have been raped, kidnapped, and forced into marriage with Muslims. Hundreds of Hindu and Sikh temples have been destroyed or allowed to fall into ruin. As a result, the share of minorities in these three countries has come down drastically. Thousands of people belonging to these persecuted minorities have sought refuge in India, and have been given, on an ad hoc basis, Indian citizenship. The new law merely formalizes this process so that the refugees languishing here can be given Indian citizenship that would enable them to secure admissions in educational institutions, get jobs, buy property, enjoy state welfare benefits and thereby have a more secure and dignified life. This is also India’s moral obligation, one that has been publicly articulated by leaders of all political parties over the decades, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, himself a Sikh refugee from Pakistan.
Why then such a brouhaha? Many Indian opposition parties, frustrated at being out of power, have deliberately distorted this issue and stoked a controversy, spreading imaginary fears among Muslims in India that they would be deprived of their citizenship, even though the new law has no impact on or relevance to those who are already Indian citizens, irrespective of their religion. These parties, with an eye on their traditional, but weakening, Muslim vote bank that relies on creating insecurity among Muslims, continue to mischievously and irresponsibly conflate the Citizenship Amendment Act with a proposed National Register of Citizens, even though Prime Minister Modi has clearly and emphatically declared publicly that the process of having a National Register of Citizens will not be initiated without widespread consultations.
Fears that India would no longer remain a pluralistic society are unwarranted. There is strong and widespread public support for an India where people belonging to all religions and communities feel secure and are not discriminated against. India has special legal and constitutional provisions to protect all minorities including Muslims (whose share in India’s total population has steadily risen).
It needs to be plainly and unequivocally stated: Indian Muslims are an integral part of India’s society and India is their home. India is proud that some of the biggest Bollywood stars and sports icons are Muslim, as are many successful and prosperous business and industry leaders. We also have proud and patriotic Muslim soldiers and generals, wise and fair Muslim judges, efficient and committed Muslim officials and policemen, brilliant and respected Muslim scientists and engineers. All sects of Islam can and do peaceably follow their religious practices in India. Minorities, including Muslims, manage their own places of worship and institutions, and can have their own educational institutions where their children are taught about their religions. Whatever development work is being done – roads, water supply, gas connections, housing, toilets, education, health etc. – is not targeted to favour any particular community.
India remains a robust democracy, where the Constitution is supreme. There is ample room for debate and opposition, and an established legal and judicial process for redressal of grievances. While peaceful protest is acceptable, violence is not. People should be held accountable if they destroy public property and attack police personnel and institutions. Everyone must respect the institution and authority of Parliament. Street mobs and political rhetoric cannot undo laws that have been duly legislated by Parliament after an open debate. Nor can state governments and legislatures defy laws that, under the Indian Constitution, are the remit of Parliament. One hopes that all political parties will act responsibly and channelize public opinion in a constructive direction.”-Indian Embassy in Lebanon.