Teenage couple electrocuted in Pakistan in ‘honor killing’

Teenage couple electrocuted in Pakistan in ‘honor killing’
In this May 29, 2014 photo, members of Pakistan's civil society protest in Islamabad, Pakistan, to condemn the stoning to death of a pregnant woman in a case of "honor killing". In the latest case of honor killing in Pakistan, family members who were carrying out the orders of an influential tribal council electrocuted a teenage couple who tried to elope, police said on Monday. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Updated 11 September 2017

Teenage couple electrocuted in Pakistan in ‘honor killing’

Teenage couple electrocuted in Pakistan in ‘honor killing’

KARACHI: A Pakistani teenage couple who tried to elope were murdered with electric shocks in an “honor killing” by family members who were carrying out the orders of an influential tribal council, police said.
The teenagers in the port city of Karachi were said by the Pashtun council of elders, or jirga, to have brought dishonor on the community.
“The innocent souls were tied to a charpai (rope bed) and given electric shocks,” said Aman Marwat, the police officer who arrested the two fathers and two uncles and is pursuing some 30 members of the jirga who have gone into hiding.
The 15-year-old girl had allegedly run away with her 17-year-old boyfriend last month, Marwat said.
“The girl was killed and buried first followed by the murder of the boy the next day,” he added.
More than 500 people — almost all women — die in Pakistan each year in such killings, usually carried out by members of the victim’s family meting out punishment for bringing “shame” on the community.
Marwat, who has been in the police for 25 years, said he has dealt with many honor killing cases happening in Karachi.
“It indicates a tribalization of society where jirgas exercise more power than law enforcers,” said Zohra Yusuf, a human rights activist in Pakistan.
Jirgas are often convened, particularly in conservative rural areas, to settle local disputes especially between poor families, and although they operate outside the law, their decisions are often honored and ignored by authorities.
In this case, the two families had come to an agreement for the pair to get married, together with a financial settlement to be paid to the girl’s family, according to Kamal Shah, of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, a non-governmental organization that works in the area.
“The girl’s side had agreed but not the jirga and they warned that if the two families did not carry out the barbaric deed, their family in their village back home would have to bear the consequences,” said Zia Ur Rehman, a Pakistani journalist who first reported on the case.
The case highlights the influence of tribal councils and social pressures in Pakistan, which are often more powerful than the law.
“Laws seem useless,” said Maliha Zia Lari, associate director with Karachi-based Legal Aid Society. “The boy’s father did not think he could seek protection from the state and the jirga members did not fear any reprisals from it either.”


Bishop calls for adequate burial space for Muslims in Italy

Bishop calls for adequate burial space for Muslims in Italy
Updated 10 min 39 sec ago

Bishop calls for adequate burial space for Muslims in Italy

Bishop calls for adequate burial space for Muslims in Italy
  • Only 58 of country’s 8,000 municipalities have dedicated spaces for Muslims in cemeteries
  • Demand for burial space has increased dramatically due to coronavirus pandemic

ROME: The Catholic bishop of the city of Padua has called for Muslims in Italy to be given adequate burial space in cemeteries.

In a Ramadan message, Bishop Claudio Cipolla expressed his “deep sense of closeness” to the Muslim community, which is “living this important period of the spiritual year amid the hardship of the pandemic.”

He added: “Fraternally, I mourn the Muslim brothers and sisters who died this year. I am aware of the difficulties experienced by the community in finding adequate burial space in the cemeteries of our cities. I believe that concrete integration of people in Italy also comes through the experience of death.”

Only 58 of Italy’s 8,000 municipalities have dedicated spaces for Muslims in their cemeteries. Even when space is available, it is limited and often fails to meet demand, which increased dramatically in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As national and international travel was banned for months, the bodies of Muslims who died in Italy could not be transported back to where the deceased came from.

Cipolla praised the solidarity offered by Muslim communities during the pandemic, “concrete gestures that were made for those who live in hardship during the pandemic, no matter what religion they profess.”

He added that “prayer, fasting and almsgiving are a powerful antidote against selfishness,” and wished for Muslims to conclude Ramadan “with joy, in the possibility of being together in their prayer rooms.”

Bologna Archbishop Matteo Zuppi also conveyed a Ramadan message of brotherhood to Muslims in Italy.

“This pandemic we are all suffering from must increase the bonds of communion between us. We are really in the same boat,” he said.

“We all feel smaller and more fragile, and therefore we all are in need of support to encourage each other to carry on, in the light of love and solidarity.”


Somalia's president signs law extending his term, 15 killed in attack

Somalia's president signs law extending his term, 15 killed in attack
Updated 13 min 10 sec ago

Somalia's president signs law extending his term, 15 killed in attack

Somalia's president signs law extending his term, 15 killed in attack
  • 14 people died when the minibus they were travelling in ran over a landmine on the outskirts of Mogadishu
  • President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed's four-year term expired in February and his successor was meant to be chosen by a new crop of legislators

MOGADISHU: Somalia's president has signed a disputed law extending his mandate for two years, the state news agency reported, setting the Horn of Africa nation on a collision course with donors who strongly oppose the move.
Somalia, with only limited central government since 1991, is trying to rebuild with international help but the path back to stability has been obstructed by a political crisis caused by a failure to hold elections that were due in February.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed's four-year term expired in February and his successor was meant to be chosen by a new crop of legislators. Uncertainty deepened after opponents accused Mohamed of packing regional and national election boards with his own supporters.
On Monday, the lower house of parliament passed legislation to extend Mohamed's tenure by up to two years, the state news agency reported, citing Information Minister Osman Dubbe, and Mohamed signed the bill late on Tuesday.
But the decision was swiftly rejected by the upper chamber of the Mogadishu parliament, sowing confusion that could abet further attacks by extremist Al-Shabaab militants, who have been trying for years to topple the government.
On Wednesday, fourteen people died and four others were wounded when the minibus they were travelling in ran over a landmine on the outskirts of Somalia's capital Mogadishu.
"We have confirmed that 14 people died and four others were wounded after a minibus travelling along the road between Mogadishu and Balcad ran over a landmine," said Andikarim Mohamed, a government official from the south-central Hirshabelle region.
The accident took place about 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of Mogadishu, in what Mohamed called a "horrible and evil act".
Somali military commander Abshir Mohamed, who works in the area, blamed the incident on the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab militants who carry out regular attacks in the country.
"The terrorists are indiscriminately targeting everybody. They planted the mine that had killed those innocent civilians who we were going about their businesses travelling," he told state media.
Somalia's main donors said they would not support any extension of the presidency's term.
"(This) resolution undermines peace, security, and stability in Somalia and beyond," international partners including the United Nations said in a joint statement. Other major backers including the United States also bemoaned the decision.
"The United States is deeply disappointed by the Federal Government of Somalia's decision to approve a legislative bill that extends the mandates of the president and parliament by two years," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
"It will compel the United States to re-evaluate our bilateral relations with the (government) to include diplomatic engagement and assistance, and to consider all available tools, including sanctions and visa restrictions."
A statement on Tuesday by Britain's Minister for Africa James Duddridge also warned of unspecified consequences.
"In the absence of consensus leading to inclusive and credible elections being held without further delay, the international community’s relationship with Somalia’s leadership will change," he said.


Italy arrests Turkish human trafficker

Italy arrests Turkish human trafficker
Updated 14 April 2021

Italy arrests Turkish human trafficker

Italy arrests Turkish human trafficker
  • Greek court had sentenced man, 33, to 25 years jail over illegal immigration operations
  • Border police caught wanted suspect as he was boarding direct flight to Turkey

ROME: Italian border police have arrested a 33-year-old Turkish citizen wanted in Europe after being sentenced by a Greek court to 25 years in prison for human trafficking.

The man, who has not been named by police, was caught at Orio al Serio airport in the northern Italian province of Bergamo as he was about to board a direct flight to Turkey.

He is charged with human trafficking and facilitating the illegal entrance of migrants.

Greek judicial authorities had issued a European arrest warrant for the man after he was convicted and sentenced for human trafficking between Turkey and Greece in 2014. He is now being held in a Bergamo jail.

He had previously been arrested in Italy in 2015 after a court in the Calabrian city of Crotone accused him of being involved in aiding clandestine and irregular immigration to Italy.

On that occasion, he had been stopped in Italian territorial waters on a 30-meter twin-mast sailing boat flying a US flag with 124 foreigners of various nationalities onboard, including many women and unaccompanied children, who said they had departed from Turkey five days earlier.

The boat had been towing a rubber dinghy which authorities said would have been used by the traffickers to transfer the migrants to land.


NATO forces will leave together from Afghanistan, Blinken says

NATO forces will leave together from Afghanistan, Blinken says
Updated 14 April 2021

NATO forces will leave together from Afghanistan, Blinken says

NATO forces will leave together from Afghanistan, Blinken says
  • NATO foreign and defense ministers will discuss their plans later on Wednesday via video conference

BRUSSELS: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that it was time for NATO allies to withdraw from Afghanistan and that the alliance would work on an adaptation phase, after Washington announced plans to end America’s longest war after two decades.
“I am here to work closely with our allies, with the (NATO) secretary-general, on the principle that we have established from the start: In together, adapt together and out together,” Blinken said in a televised statement at NATO headquarters.
NATO foreign and defense ministers will discuss their plans later on Wednesday via video conference.


Russia seeking to ‘provoke’ in Ukraine conflict: Germany

Russia seeking to ‘provoke’ in Ukraine conflict: Germany
Updated 14 April 2021

Russia seeking to ‘provoke’ in Ukraine conflict: Germany

Russia seeking to ‘provoke’ in Ukraine conflict: Germany
  • The growing Russian presence at the Ukrainian border has caused concern in the West in recent days

BERLIN: Germany on Wednesday accused Russia of seeking provocation with its troop build-up along the border with Ukraine.
“My impression is that the Russian side is trying everything to provoke a reaction,” German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told ARD public television.
“Together with Ukraine, we won’t be drawn into this game,” she added.
The growing Russian presence at the Ukrainian border has caused concern in the West in recent days, with the United States saying that troop levels are at their highest since 2014, when war first broke out with Moscow-backed separatists.
Moscow has said it sent troops to its western borders for combat drills because of “threats” from transatlantic alliance NATO.
But Kramp-Karrenbauer voiced doubt at Moscow’s claim.
“If it is a maneuver like the Russian side says, there are international procedures through which one can create transparency and trust,” she said, adding that Germany was monitoring developments very closely.
Ukraine has so far reacted in a “sober” manner, said the minister, stressing that NATO stands by Kiev’s side.
“We are committed to Ukraine, that is very clear,” she said.
At the same time, she said, it is also clear that Moscow “is just waiting for a move, so to speak, from NATO, to have a pretext to continue its actions.”