The 'gilets jaunes' (or yellow vests) protests in France have prompted strong reactions from some Arab leaders and media, presumably keen to stifled any similar movements in their own countries (AFP)
In the UAE and Egypt, yellow vest conspiracies abound
Former chief of the Dubai Police forces Dhahi Khalfan sparked a wave of controversy and ridicule after he posted a since-deleted tweet accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of being behind the recent “yellow vests” protests in France.
Khalfan, who is an adviser to UAE authorities, linked the detention of Swiss Islamic thinker Tariq Ramadan to the protests taking place in France for nearly three weeks, noting that Ramadan is "the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood Organisation, Hassan al-Banna".
Ramadan is currently facing charges of rape in France, and was recently granted conditional release on bail after several months of detention.
"Can the arrest of Hassan al-Bannas grandson, who is accused of rape in France, be a potential cause of the Muslim Brotherhoods fabrication of demonstrations similar to the ones which ignited the spring of the Muslim Brotherhood or the so-called Arab Spring? … Or is it really a matter of protesting against fuel prices increase?" Khalfan wrote.
Khalfan is not the only one in the Middle East to make outlandish assertions about the French demonstrations, as pro-government press in Egypt have published reports accusing the Brotherhood – or even the Islamic State – of being behind the yellow vests.
Gaza protests against US Hamas 'terror' call
Mass rallies are scheduled to take place in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, according to newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi, to express rejection of attempts by the US government to classify Hamas as a terrorist organisation at the United Nations.
An Israeli source has reportedly stated that Washington was wielding pressure on several Arab countries to support a proposal condemning Hamas in the UN General Assembly, which is set to be voted on Thursday, according to the newspaper.
Al-Quds al-Arabi said that US special envoy to the Middle East and staunch Israel supporter Jason Greenblatt had sought the support of diplomats from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Morocco, Kuwait, Oman and Jordan for the General Assembly proposal.
"States that oppose terrorism and support stability in the region will have no excuse to reject this proposal,” Greenblatt wrote.
In his correspondence with these countries, Greenblatt reportedly called the Palestinian Authoritys (PA) opposition to the proposal hypocritical, given the sanctions imposed by the Fatah-led PA on Hamas and the enmity between the two parties since contested parliamentary elections in 2006.
Tunisian prisons are overflowing
Tunisia's prisons are suffering from overcrowding, with 22,663 detainees across the country, according to a report published by the Tunisian newspaper al-Sabah – straining the capacities of the prison system with more than 5,000 detainees having no access to basic prison services.
"Tunisian authorities are planning to build more prisons in the country in order to reduce overcrowding," Sufian Mzighish, a spokesman for Tunisia's General Prison Administration, told al-Sabah, as existing prisons were only designed to hold 17,000 prisoners.
According to al-Sabah, official statistics in Tunisia show that 39 percent of prisoners tend to return to prison for other crimes after being released – a rate of recidivism lower than previous years.
* Arabic press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.