Lebanese judge sentences Virgin Mary insulters to read verses from Qur’an

A judge’s punishment meted to three men who insulted the Virgin Mary went viral on Lebanese social media earlier this week. (Shutterstock)
Updated 13 February 2018

Lebanese judge sentences Virgin Mary insulters to read verses from Qur’an

DUBAI: A judge’s punishment meted to three men who insulted the Virgin Mary went viral on Lebanese social media earlier this week.
Instead of slapping them with jail time or a fine, Tripoli judge Jocelyn Matta ordered the three men to memorize verses from the Holy Qur’an’s Surat Al-Omran, which glorifies the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ.
The sentence sent shockwaves across Twitter in Lebanon, and even caught the attention of Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri.
The PM tweeted: “A salute to judge of investigations in North of Lebanon chief Jocelyn Matta. Her ruling against the three young men in Virgin Mary’s case, and sentencing them to memorize the Holy Qur’an’s Surat Al-Omran, is the epitome of justice and promotes co-existence between Christians and Muslims.”
The case, which was tried in a Tripoli courthouse last week, was uncommon due to Lebanon’s strict laws concerning offending religions or beliefs.
In her closing statement, the judge said that the sentence “aimed to educate the men on Islam’s reverence for Virgin Mary.”


Dutch police discover five siblings locked away for years on farm

A general view of a remote farm where a family spent years locked away in a cellar, according to Dutch broadcasters' reports, in Ruinerwold, Netherlands October 15, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 16 October 2019

Dutch police discover five siblings locked away for years on farm

  • An employee at the cafe told RTV Drenthe one of the family members, a 25-year-old man with long hair, had come in looking scruffy and bewildered and said he had not been outside for nine years

AMSTERDAM: Five siblings and a man believed to be their father were receiving medical treatment after Dutch police acting on a tip discovered them locked away in a secret room at an isolated farm, officials in the Netherlands said on Tuesday.
The five, estimated at 18 to 25 years of age, and a man they identified as their ailing father were found near Ruinerwold, a village in the northern province of Drenthe.
“We found six people living in a small space in the house which could be locked, not a cellar. It is unclear if they resided there voluntarily,” local police said in a statement, adding that the people may have been hidden away on the property for nine years.
“They say they are a family, a father and five children,” police added.
Officials did not confirm local TV reports that the family may have held “end of days” apocalyptic beliefs.
Earlier, local Mayor Roger de Groot said a 58-year-old man, not the father of the children, had been arrested. His role was unclear.
The Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad daily identified the man as “Joseph B.,” an Austrian carpenter.
Police confirmed they had arrested a man who was renting the farm but would not comment on his identity.
The children’s mother had apparently died before they moved to the Dutch farm, the mayor said. None of the family members were registered as residents with the municipality, police said.
The family, who according to local news reports had been waiting for the end of time, was discovered after one of the siblings escaped and sought help at a nearby cafe.
An employee at the cafe told RTV Drenthe one of the family members, a 25-year-old man with long hair, had come in looking scruffy and bewildered and said he had not been outside for nine years.
“You could see he had no idea where he was or what he was doing,” the cafe owner, Chris Westerbeek, told the broadcaster. “He said he had run away and that he urgently needed help.”
The siblings had apparently lived in makeshift rooms inside the farm and survived partly on vegetables and animals from a secluded garden on the property, local TV RTV Drenthe reported.
“I understand there are a lot of questions,” De Groot said. “We have many too. The police are investigating all possible scenarios.”