The Niagara News is the community newspaper of Niagara College located in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. It is created and produced by the students of the Niagara College Journalism program.
The winds of change are blowing across the Arab World.
The fall of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia in January and of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in February has led to a revolutionary wave across the Middle East and North Africa. Mass protests across the region, in Syria, Yemen Bahrain, Morrocco, Algeria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq Kuwait and Oman and civil war in Libya have followed in the footsteps of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions.
Demonstrations by Palestinians protesting their expulsion and occupation by Israel also occurred this year. The United Nations plans to vote on a resolution whether to admit Palestine as a member state.
“I think it is terrible how people assume and believe what they want. All humans should be treated equally, no matter what race or nationality” says Alaa Farhat, a 20-year-old Pharmacy Tech student at the Welland Campus whose family is from Lebanon.
Abdullah Alshaba, a 22-year-old first-year civil engineering student from Yemen, where demonstrations have tried to oust Ali Abdullah Saleh, in office since 1973, supports the revolutions.
“It’s nice for the people to have a new regime. Presidents [in the region] are very strict.” He strongly supports statehood for Palestine.
“They should be a state. They have the right to freedom and their own government.”
Taif and Rada Darawish, aged 18 and 20, are Niagara College students from Palestine. “The killing of people is bad,” says Rada, a Level 4 English as a Second Language student. “They are demanding their rights.”
“Leave them alone,” says her sister Taif, a first-year Early Childhood Education student. “Palestine should be a free country. They have the right not to have somebody coming in and taking over.”
The vote on statehood is scheduled for this month. If successful, Palestine would be recognized as a full member state, putting pressure on Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories it has occupied since 1967. The United States has threatened to veto the resolution on the Security Council, but the resolution needs a two-thirds majority vote in the General Assembly. Israel has threatened to cut off relations with the Palestinian Authority if the resolution is successful.
As for Rada Darawish, she is optimistic about the future. “One day we will be free.”