Turkey postpones events until end-April over coronavirus

A total of 9,800 people were quarantined as Turks were advised to stay home for at least three weeks. (AFP)
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Updated 20 March 2020

Turkey postpones events until end-April over coronavirus

  • Country’s death toll has reached four, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said late on Thursday
  • A total of 9,800 people were quarantined so far

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan issued a decree on Friday postponing all events related to science, culture and art, as it seeks to contain a surge in coronavirus cases.
The country’s death toll has reached four, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said late on Thursday, after an 85-year-old woman died of the highly contagious respiratory illness.
The number of confirmed cases in the country has surged since the first case was announced last week, reaching 359 on Thursday. The cases have roughly doubled every day since Sunday.
Koca said Turkey had conducted 1,981 tests in 24 hours to midnight Thursday, 168 of which came back positive.
The decree published in the Official Gazette on Friday said all meetings and activities, indoors or outdoors, related to science, culture, art and other similar fields would be postponed until the end of April.
State-owned Anadolu news agency quoted Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu as saying on Thursday that a total of 9,800 people were quarantined.
Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turks should stay home for at least three weeks, but did not ask them to stay away from work.
Ankara has suspended flights to 20 countries, closed schools, cafes and bars, banned mass prayers and indefinitely postponed matches in its main sports leagues.
To alleviate the economic impacts of the virus, the central bank cut its policy rate by 100 basis points to 9.75 percent, while the government revealed a $15 billion package to support businesses.
Clothing retailers shuttered, dimming the economy’s prospects and raising questions for hundreds of thousands of workers. Malls, with some 530,000 employees and annual turnover of $160 billion, were set to follow suit.


So-called honor killing of teen girl brings outcry in Iran

Updated 27 May 2020

So-called honor killing of teen girl brings outcry in Iran

  • Iranian president Rouhani has urged his cabinet to speed up the introduction of harsher laws against such killings

TEHRAN: The so-called honor killing of a 14-year-old Iranian girl by her father, who reportedly used a farming sickle to behead her as she slept, has prompted a nationwide outcry.
Reza Ashrafi, now in custody, was apparently enraged when he killed his daughter Romina on Thursday after she ran away with 34-year-old Bahamn Khavari in Talesh, some 320 kilometers (198 miles) northwest of the capital, Tehran.
In traditional societies in the Middle East, including Iran, blame would typically fall on a runaway girl for purportedly having sullied her family’s honor, rather than on an adult male luring away a child.
Romina was found five days after leaving home and taken to a police station, from where her father brought her back home. The girl reportedly told the police she feared a violent reaction from her father.
On Wednesday, a number of national newspapers featured the story prominently and the social media hashtag #RominaAshrafi reportedly has been used thousands times on social media, with most users condemning the killing.
Proposed legislation against honor killings has apparently shuttled for years among various decision-making bodies in Iran.
On Wednesday, Romina Ashrafi’s case led Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to urge his Cabinet to speed up harsher laws against such killings and he pushed for speedy adoption of relevant legislation.
There is little data on honor killings in Iran, where local media occasionally report on such cases. Under the law, girls can marry after the age of 13, though the average age of marriage for Iranian women is 23. It is not known how many women and young girls are killed by family members or close relatives because of their actions, perceived as violating conservative Islamic norms on love and marriage.
Iran’s judiciary said Romina’s case will be tried in a special court. Under the current law, her father faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Iran’s vice president in charge of family affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar, expressed hope that a bill with harsher punishments will soon be in the final stages of approval.
Shahnaz Sajjadi, special assistant to citizens’ rights in the presidential directorate on women and family affairs, on Wednesday told the khabaronline.ir news website “We should revise the idea that home is a safe place for children and women. Crimes that happen against women in the society are less than those that happen in the homes.”