Sympathetic Faces and Harsh Realities

6 01 2010

Mauritania Foreign Minister Ms Naha Bint Mouknass

Mauritanian women power yet again sets the day for me, in this Alarabiya piece we learn that Mauritania’s foreign minister-the only Arab woman ever to hold that position- Naha Bint Mouknass (الناهة بنت مكناس) decided to stay with ordinary people in Cairo’s airport rather than going to the VIP room during a stop on the way to Damascus.

As a Mauritanian, I was proud to see that Ms Mouknass unlike her boss General Aziz is keeping to some of the spirit of modesty our founding fathers adhered to. Including her late father Hamdi Ould Mouknass, foreign minister under late-president Moctar Ould Daddah- Mauritania’s George Washington.

However, I cannot let this feel good moment blind me  to the real face of  the current ruling regime she serves. just today leading Arab human rights activist Syrian Haitham Manaa, wrote an op-ed highlighting the plight of  Algerian worker Mariam Mahdi on hunger strike for 25 days now protesting her firing by British Gas for deciding to wear a headscarf, and Hanevy Ould Dahah who has been on a hunger strike for the last 9 days to protest his arbitrary detention.

Manaa, following the lead of the Cairo-based Arab Network for Human Rights (ANHRI) in dubbing Hanevy a “prisoner of opinion”, praised the hard work of Mauritania’s Journalist Union defending Hanevy so did the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

As, the support and solidarity with Hanevy grow, I hope that Ms Meknass will be astute enough to explain to her boss that holding a journalist on hunger strike to protest being held after finishing his sentence is simply a bad way to get any good will from the rest of the world.

In fact, I urge her as the guardian of Mauritania’s good name, and as head of a political party to take a principled position: urge General Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz to FREE HANEVY.

Is that too much to ask?








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