Gunmen kidnap Iraqi female journalist

Iraqi journalist Afrah Shawqi. (Social Media)
Updated 27 December 2016

Gunmen kidnap Iraqi female journalist

BAGHDAD: Gunmen have kidnapped an Iraqi female journalist Afrah Shawqi after posing as members of the security forces and bursting into her home in Baghdad, authorities said on Tuesday. 
Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi condemned her abduction and ordered the security services to do their utmost find her and track down those responsible.
Shawqi was abducted on Monday at around 10:00 p.m. (1900 GMT) from her home in a southern neighborhood of the capital, said Ziad Al-Ajili, head of the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory.
“Eight armed men burst into her house in Saidiya dressed in plain clothes and entered by pretending to belong to the security forces,” he told AFP.
“They tied up her son and stole mobile phones, computers and cash before kidnapping Afrah and fleeing.”
Shawqi, 43, was a former freelance contributor to Asharq Al-Awsat, a London-based pan-Arab newspaper, and stopped working for the publication six months ago. Shawqi also worked at a number of news websites, including Aklaam.
Iraq is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.
Seven journalists have been killed in the country in 2016, press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said last week.


I won’t quit: Lebanese PM defiant as his critics blast financial chaos

Updated 12 July 2020

I won’t quit: Lebanese PM defiant as his critics blast financial chaos

  • University president and UN human rights chief join condemnation of ‘incompetent’ government

BEIRUT: Beleaguered Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Saturday defied a barrage of criticism to declare that his government alone ruled Lebanon and it was determined to implement reforms to resolve the financial crisis.

Diab dismissed as “fake news” reports that he was on the verge of resignation, and said: “Lebanon will not be under anyone’s control as long as I am in power.”

The prime minister spoke after UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned that Lebanon was enduring “the worst economic crisis in its history” and was “fast spiraling out of control.” 

She urged Diab’s government to initiate urgent reforms and respond to “the people’s essential needs, such as food, electricity, health, and education.”

Diab also faced harsh criticism from the American University of Beirut (AUB), where he was vice president and a professor before becoming prime minister.

BACKGROUND

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet urged the Lebanese government to initiate urgent reforms and respond to ‘the people’s essential needs, such as food, health and education.’

AUB president Fadlo Khuri said Diab’s government was the worst in Lebanon’s history in its understanding of higher education.

“I have not seen any shred of competence in this government since its formation six months ago,” said.

“The government owes the AUB $150 million in medical bills,” Khuri said, and he urged Diab to “at least discuss with us a payment timeline.”

Lebanon’s financial plight is illustrated by its currency, the lira, which has lost 80 percent of its value. 

The black market  dollar exchange rate on Saturday was 7,500, compared with the official rate of 1,507.

Bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund were suspended in a dispute over government debt, but Diab insisted on Saturday: “We have turned the page … and started discussing the basic reforms required and the program that the IMF and Lebanon will agree upon, which will restore confidence and open the door to many projects.”