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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      June 15, 1995, V3, #109
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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"Smart Outlet" Against Electrocution

A new "smart" electrical outlet has been patented internationally after being invented in Israel; it protects children from electrocution. It was shown at the 1995 Electricity Exhibition in Jerusalem. It was devised by Haim Nevo of Kiryat Bialik, who owns an electricity store, and has a hidden control switch which checks the entry of unsuitable objects and turns off the current unless a fully appropriate plug is inserted.

Muslim Could be Assassinated Because He Married a Non-Muslim

By Laurie Kassman (Cairo)

An Egyptian appeals court has ruled that a university professor and his wife must be divorced on the grounds he is an apostate (defector from his faith). The professor was brought to court in 1994 by Islamic fundamentalists who accused him of insulting Islam through critical writings and teachings. The professor's wife says they may have to seek political asylum in another country.

The divorce case was first presented in court a year and a half ago. A group of Islamic fundamentalist lawyers demanded the court force Prof. Nasser abu Zaid and his wife to divorce on the grounds that he was an apostate and marriage between a Muslim and a heretic was not valid. The lawyers accused abu Zaid of insulting Islam through his critical writings and teachings at Cairo University.

He and his wife learned of the lawsuit when they read a story about it in the newspaper. The case sparked an uproar among secular writers and thinkers in Egypt who fear an attack against freedom of expression. They supported the professor's argument that his writings were not an attack against Islam but only an analysis of the language of the Koran.

The court rejected the case and most people thought the controversy had been put to rest. Now an appeals court has reversed that decision and ruled the professor and his wife must be separated because he is an apostate.

The new ruling has once again set off alarm bells among secular writers and thinkers in Egypt who fear a conservative religious trend is threatening freedom of expression. Human rights activists often accuse the government of giving its conservative Islamic advisors too much power in an effort to polish its religious credentials and counter the appeal of Islamic radicals.

But secular writers and human rights monitors have usually welcomed the independence of Egypt's civil courts as a way of protecting basic freedoms.

Earlier this year an Egyptian filmmaker won his battle in court against an Islamic lawyer who wanted his film banned on the grounds it offended Islam because it too closely resembled a story from the Koran.

A former judge who himself has been threatened by Islamic radicals says the new ruling against the university professor could lead to assassination by Islamic militants.

Palestinians Killed at Border Crossing

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

Israeli troops shot and killed three Palestinians Wednesday along the Israeli-patrolled border between Egypt and the autonomous Gaza Strip. All of the dead men had connections to the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, and at least one was wanted by the Israeli authorities.

The Israeli army says its soldiers killed the men in two incidents in the early hours of Wednesday morning, after one of the men fired on an Israeli patrol. The incidents took place in the Egypt-Gaza border zone Israel controls near the town of Rafah.

The army says one of the men killed was Darwish abu Khatla. Palestinian sources say he was the leader of the Rafah branch of a group called the Fatah Hawks, and had been sought by Israeli authorities for four years. The Fatah Hawks are a group of fighters affiliated with the Fatah organization headed by Arafat.

Palestinian sources say the other two dead men were members of a special security unit, called Force-17, which Arafat formed during the last year to protect his administration in Gaza. But a senior Palestinian official condemned the apparent attempt to sneak the Fatah Hawks fighter into Gaza, calling it "irresponsible," and saying he hoped it would not affect the current talks with Israel on expanding Palestinian autonomy.

Settler Torches Himself After Eviction Attempt

By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)

An Israeli has detonated a gas canister, injuring himself and four security officers who were trying to evict him from an apartment he had moved into illegally in a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.

The man had taken over an empty apartment in the settlement of Karnei Shomron, 18 miles northeast of Tel Aviv. Police say they tried to persuade him to leave the apartment, but he refused. They say the man then opened a gas canister and ignited it.

Karnei Shomron is on the main road between two Palestinian towns expected to receive autonomy by the end of this year -- Nablus and Qalqilya. But it was not clear whether the man's motives were political, or whether he was just the latest in a series of homeless people who local residents say have tried to take over empty apartments in the area.

The main settlers' organization says it was not behind the incident and does not know the man involved. But the explosion came just one day after the group organized the re-opening of 13 abandoned Israeli homes at a settlement just six miles away. The settlers' organization has announced a campaign of such takeovers to try to block the government's plan to give control of much of the West Bank to the Palestinian Autonomy Authority.

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