Publisher shuts Turkey weekly over cartoon blasphemy

Members of Turkish police special forces stand guard at the police headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey on Friday. (Reuters)
Updated 17 February 2017
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Publisher shuts Turkey weekly over cartoon blasphemy

ISTANBUL: The publisher of one of Turkey’s most prominent cartoon magazines on Friday shut down the weekly and fired all its staff after it published a cartoon of Prophet Moses deemed to be offensive.
“The decision has been taken for the magazine to be closed and all the staff laid off because of the distasteful cartoon,” the publishers said in a statement on the magazine’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.
“The cartoon has disturbed society and disturbed us as a publishing company,” it said.
Girgir has since 2015 been published by the group of the Sozcu newspaper, a secular nationalist daily which is staunchly opposed to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The publishers blamed the cartoon on a deliberate attempt to “put the company in a difficult situation” and said it would inform prosecutors of which employees were behind it.
A statement by the magazine, before the closure was announced, apologized for the cartoon, saying “it was not noticed before printing because of tiredness and insomnia.”
Two Turkish journalists from the Cumhuriyet daily were last year ordered to serve two years in jail for illustrating their columns with a blasphemous cartoon originally published by French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin tweeted after the publication of the Girgir cartoon that “this has nothing to do with freedom of speech or humor. This is immoral and a hate crime.”
The cartoon was also angrily condemned by the editor in chief of Istanbul’s Jewish weekly Shalom Ivo Molinas who tweeted: “What a disgrace! What disrespect!”


Jumblatt expresses concern over torture of Syrian refugees

Syrian children are pictured at a refugee camp in the village of Mhammara in the northern Lebanese Akkar region on March 9, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 18 March 2019
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Jumblatt expresses concern over torture of Syrian refugees

  • Walid Jumblatt has expressed concern about Syrian refugees returning to their country from Lebanon
  • Jan Kubis: “The UN and the humanitarian community will continue to facilitate these returns as much as possible

BEIRUT: Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt has expressed concern about reports that Syrian refugees returning to their country from Lebanon face torture and murder.

This coincides with a debate in Lebanon about whether Syrian refugees should return without waiting for a political solution to the conflict in their country. 

UN Special Coordinator Jan Kubis stressed after meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Monday the “urgent need to ensure the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Syrian refugees home, according to international humanitarian norms.” 

Kubis added: “The UN and the humanitarian community will continue to facilitate these returns as much as possible. Another very important message was also to support the host communities here in Lebanon.”

Mireille Girard, representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), on Monday said: “The reconstruction process in Syria may not be enough to attract refugees to return. We are working to identify the reasons that will help them to return.”

She added: “The arrival of aid to the refugees is an element of trust that helps them to return. Their dignity and peaceful living must be ensured.”

Social Affairs Minister Richard Kouyoumdjian said the Lebanese General Security “issued lists containing the names of refugees wishing to return to their homes, but the Syrian regime accepted only about 20 percent of them.”

He added: “The solution is to call on the international community to put pressure on Russia, so that Moscow can exert pressure on (Syrian President) Bashar Assad’s regime to show goodwill and invite Syrian refugees to return to their land without conditions, procedures, obstacles and laws that steal property and land from them.”

Lebanese Education Minister Akram Chehayeb said: “The problem is not reconstruction and infrastructure, nor the economic and social situation. The main obstacle is the climate of fear and injustice in Syria.”

He added: “There are 215,000 Syrian students enrolled in public education in Lebanon, 60,000 in private education, and there are informal education programs for those who have not yet attended school to accommodate all children under the age of 18.” 

Chehayeb said: “As long as the displacement crisis continues, and as long as the (Assad) regime’s decision to prevent the (refugees’) return stands … work must continue to absorb the children of displaced Syrians who are outside education to protect Lebanon today and Syria in the future.”