Iran protests to Poland over Iran-focused summit

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized Poland for hosting the meeting. (File/AP/Altaf Qadri)
Updated 13 January 2019

Iran protests to Poland over Iran-focused summit

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized Poland for hosting the meeting
  • Relations between Tehran and Washington are highly fraught following the decision in May by President Donald Trump to pull the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal

DUBAI: Iran’s foreign ministry summoned a senior Polish diplomat on Sunday to protest Poland’s jointly hosting a global summit with the United States focused on the Middle East, particularly Iran, state news agency IRNA reported.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday the summit — to be held in Warsaw on Feb. 13-14 — would focus on stability and security in the Middle East, including on the “important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilising influence.”
An Iranian foreign ministry official told Poland’s charge d’affaires in Tehran that Iran saw the decision to host the meeting as a “hostile act against Iran” and warned that Tehran could reciprocate, IRNA added.
“Poland’s charge d’affaires provided explanations about the conference and said it was not anti-Iran,” the agency added.
On Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized Poland for hosting the meeting and wrote on Twitter: “Polish Govt can’t wash the shame: while Iran saved Poles in WWII, it now hosts desperate anti-Iran circus.”
Zarif was referring to Iran hosting more that 100,000 Polish refugees during the Second World War.
Relations between Tehran and Washington are highly fraught following the decision in May by President Donald Trump to pull the US out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers and to reimpose sanctions.


Lebanese celebrities join Beirut protests as anger rises over tax reforms

Updated 56 sec ago

Lebanese celebrities join Beirut protests as anger rises over tax reforms

  • A video emerged on social media showing actress Nadine Al-Rassi preparing to set fire to a car tire in downtown Beirut and crying inconsolably about her financial state
  • In a series of tweets, Lebanese recording artist Elissa, who is abroad, supported the protesters’ demands

BEIRUT: Lebanese celebrities joined thousands of protesters on the streets of Beirut on Saturday to voice their anger at the country’s ruling elite.
Singers, actors and playwrights were among a host of high-profile artists who backed demands for action over government corruption and to counter Lebanon’s spiralling economic crisis.
Beirut has been shrouded in smoke for three days following widespread protests and rioting over government tax plans.
A video emerged on social media showing actress Nadine Al-Rassi preparing to set fire to a car tire in downtown Beirut and crying inconsolably about her financial state.
The actress, wearing jeans and her face blackened, told protesters: “I am Nadine Al-Rassi. I was hungry for seven days. I have debts. Banque du Liban (Lebanon’s central bank) seized my house and I am unable to rent a home. Corrupt people should be held responsible.”
Artists also expressed their solidarity with protesters. Actress Nadine Nassib Njeim tweeted her photo in the heart of Beirut: “May God protect our youth, give you strength, grant you victory and be with you. We all stand together against corruption, parties, slogans and robberies.”
In a series of tweets, Lebanese recording artist Elissa, who is abroad, supported the protesters’ demands, saying: “This is the first time I wish I were in Lebanon. My heart is with you.”
In another tweet, the high-profile singer, one of the Middle East’s best-selling performers, said: “I proudly follow the news of Beirut and its citizens ... who are demanding a decent life. It is time for people to get back their dignity.”
Meanwhile, singer and composer Ragheb Alama expressed his dismay at a Council of Ministers plan to impose a daily fee on WhatsApp calls.
“The people’s misfortunes are not funny. Why don’t you tax the polluted air people breathe? It is a great idea that brings money to your fathers’ treasury, too,” he wrote.
Alama accused the Parliament of responsibility for the country’s dire economy: “Why do deputies receive money, privileges and overheads, and what have they done? They covered up for looting and stealing for decades. They are responsible for destroying the economy and the country.”
Nancy Ajram, one of the Arab world’s most popular singers, wrote on Twitter: “My heart goes out to my country every moment and with every heartbeat. We are a people who deserves to live and it is our right to live with dignity. May God protect Lebanon.”
Singer and actress Haifa Wehbe tweeted: “There is nothing better than the Lebanese people when they stand in unity and under one slogan, without any political affiliation. We are all for our country.”
Comedian and prime-time TV host Hisham Haddad was among celebrities who joined protesters at Riad El-Solh Square, near the Prime Minister’s office, site of the biggest centralized demonstrations.
Actress Maguy Bou Ghosn, singer Moeen Shreif, actors Abdo Chahine, Badih Abou Chakra and Junaid Zeineldine, playwright Ziad Itani and musician Ziyad Sahhab also joined the protests.
Actor Wissam Hanna called on Twitter for protesters to close the Beirut Airport road to stop corrupt officials fleeing the country.
“I am all for closing down the airport road to stop thieves from fleeing. I am all for recovering stolen funds. Lebanon rises, revolts and it is time to hold them accountable,” he wrote.
Actress Gretta Aoun said: “We have to take to the streets. They must know the extent of our pain.”