Spartak the lemur predicts Saudi Green Falcons to overcome Russians in World Cup opener

Achilles the cat picked the home team. (Reuters)
Updated 16 June 2018
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Spartak the lemur predicts Saudi Green Falcons to overcome Russians in World Cup opener

  • Achilles the cat picked Russia to beat the Green Falcons

JEDDAH: Spartak the lemur picked Saudi Arabia to defeat World cup hosts Russia ritual predicting results at Yekaterinburg Zoo.

However, Achilles the cat at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg picked the home team.

The cat was presented with two plates of cat food — one marked with a Russian flag and the other with a Saudi one. Achilles hesitated before going for the Russia plate.

The cat was then dressed in Russia’s uniform and posed for the cameras.

Hermitage veterinarian Anna Kondratyeva said she’s sure Achilles made the right call. She said he “loves his motherland and couldn’t vote otherwise.”

Achilles became famous by correctly predicting several matches during the Confederations Cup in Russia last summer.

Former Saudi coach Marcos Paqueta told Arab News Saudi Arabia’s  group is difficult “to predict, but the first phase of a World Cup is when teams take a little more risk. It’s hard to say which team will qualify, but Saudi Arabia must be brave.”

Saudi Arabia will be underdogs in Group A at the World Cup. The Falcons are ranked 67th in the world,  second-lowest at the tournament only behind the hosts Russia in 70th, but Jan Van Winckel, a former technical director of the Saudi Football Federation, does not consider those stats a problem.

“I think Saudi Arabia have a good chance of reaching the second round,” Van Winckel told Arab News.

 

(With input from AP)


Indonesia woman irked by mosque noise convicted of blasphemy

Updated 21 August 2018
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Indonesia woman irked by mosque noise convicted of blasphemy

  • Prosecutors said the 44-year-old defendant violated the criminal code by committing blasphemy against Islam
  • The maximum sentence for blasphemy is two years

MEDAN, Indonesia: An Indonesian court has sentenced a woman who complained about a noisy mosque to 18 months in prison for blasphemy.
The ethnic Chinese woman, Meiliana, burst into tears as presiding Judge Wahyu Prasetyo Wibowo announced the sentence Tuesday. She was taken from the court in handcuffs.
Prosecutors said the 44-year-old defendant violated the criminal code by committing blasphemy against Islam, the dominant faith in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
Mobs burned and ransacked at least 14 Buddhist temples throughout Tanjung Balai, a port town on Sumatra, in a July 2016 riot following reports of Meiliana’s complaint about a mosque’s noisy loudspeakers.
The woman’s lawyer, Ranto Sibarani, said the sentence would be appealed. A conservative group, Islamic Community Forum, said Meilana’s sentence was too light.
The maximum sentence for blasphemy is two years.
Indonesia’s Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and religion but in recent years blasphemy cases have been filed against those perceived as offending Islam. The overwhelming majority end with guilty verdicts.
Last year, the minority Christian and ethnic Chinese governor of Jakarta, the capital, was convicted of blasphemy and imprisoned for two years after massive street protests over comments seized upon by his political opponents.
Judges imposed the sentence despite prosecutors downgrading the blasphemy charge to a lesser offense.