Arab League to meet on Iran 'violations'

In this Sept. 21, 2012 file photo, a Qiam missile is displayed by Iran's Revolutionary Guard during a military parade outside Tehran. Saudi Arabia and the US now accuse Iran of supplying ballistic missiles to Houthi insurgents in Yemen, including this model. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
Updated 13 November 2017

Arab League to meet on Iran 'violations'

CAIRO: Saudi Arabia has called for an urgent meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo on Sunday to discuss Iran’s destructive meddling in the region.
The call follows the launch of an Iranian-supplied ballistic missile at Riyadh from Houthi militia-held territory in Yemen on Nov. 4, and an explosion and fire at a Bahraini oil pipeline last Friday, also blamed on Iran. 
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman later accused Iran of “direct military aggression” against the Kingdom by supplying the Houthis with ballistic missiles.
Bahrain and the UAE supported the Saudi request, which was also approved by Djibouti, the current chair of the League. 
In a memo requesting the meeting, Saudi Arabia attacked the “sabotage” and “terrorism” of the pipeline fire, which temporarily halted oil supplies from its territory. The memo referred to the fire and the missile attack “in addition to the violations committed by Iran in the Arab region, which undermine security and peace, not only in the Arab region, but around the globe.”
On Saturday, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa blamed Iran for the pipeline explosion. “The attempt to blow up the Saudi-Bahraini pipeline is a dangerous escalation on Iran’s part that aims to terrorize citizens and to harm the world oil industry,” he said.
Yousef Al-Othaimeen, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, expressed full solidarity with Bahrain in combating all forms of terrorism.
Abdullatif Al-Zayani, the Gulf Cooperation Council secretary-general, said: “The attack was a serious terror crime, which endangers Bahrain’s supreme interests and terrifies both citizens and residents.”
According to Reuters, the Iran-backed Houthi rebels threatened on Sunday to attack warships and oil tankers “from enemy countries” in retaliation for the closure of Yemeni ports last week by the Saudi-led coalition fighting to restore Yemen’s legitimate government.
The coalition has said aid workers and supplies would continue to have access to Yemen.

Warning to Turkish artists as singer is jailed for ‘insulting’ Erdogan

Updated 21 July 2019

Warning to Turkish artists as singer is jailed for ‘insulting’ Erdogan

  • Actress and singer Zuhal Olcay was charged with insulting Erdogan using hand gestures at a concert in Istanbul in 2016
  • Turkey’s appeals court has upheld an 11-month sentence, originally imposed last year but suspended

ANKARA: Accusations of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may lead to a jail sentence — even if the “insult” is in private, analysts told Arab News on Saturday.

Turkey’s appeals court has upheld an 11-month sentence on actress and singer Zuhal Olcay, 61, after a complaint that she had changed lyrics of songs and used hand gestures to insult the president at a concert in Istanbul in 2016.

The revised lyrics said: “Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it’s all empty, it’s all a lie. Life will end one day and you’ll say ‘I had a dream’.” Olcay said she had changed the lyrics only because the president’s name fitted the rhyme.

The court confirmed a sentence originally imposed last year, which had been suspended. The singer is expected to spend up to three days in prison, before being released on probation.

“This case highlights the blurring of the public and private spheres.”

Louis Fishman Academic

“Zuhal Olcay is an artist with great stature, and this case shows that no one is out of reach of a judiciary that increasingly has little independence from the government,” Louis Fishman, an assistant professor at City University of New York, told Arab News.

“The message is clear; artists in Turkey should be silent or face legal consequences that can be drawn out for years and eventually lead to prison,” said Fishman, an expert on Turkey.

He said it was significant that the hand gesture at the center of the case had happened at a private concert, and the prosecution began only after it was reported to police by someone in the audience.

“Therefore, this case also highlights the blurring of the public and private spheres,” he said. 

“In other words, there is a growing fear in Turkey of criticizing, or ‘defaming’ Erdogan, not only in public, but also in private. In both cases, vigilant citizens can report such alleged cases to the police.”