UN warns cybercrime on rise during coronavirus pandemic

Above, a technician works on a protective cybersecurity system on January 22, 2019 a cybersecurity forum. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 23 May 2020

UN warns cybercrime on rise during coronavirus pandemic

  • Growing digital dependency has increased the vulnerability to cyberattacks
  • It is estimated that one such attack takes place every 39 seconds

UNITED NATIONS: The UN disarmament chief says the COVID-19 pandemic is moving the world toward increased technological innovation and online collaboration, but “cybercrime is also on the rise, with a 600 percent increase in malicious emails during the current crisis.”
Izumi Nakamitsu told an informal meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday that “there have also been worrying reports of attacks against health care organizations and medical research facilities worldwide.”
She said growing digital dependency has increased the vulnerability to cyberattacks, and “it is estimated that one such attack takes place every 39 seconds.”
According to the International Telecommunication Union, “nearly 90 countries are still only at the early stages of making commitments to cybersecurity,” Nakamitsu said.
The high representative for disarmament affairs said the threat from misusing information and communications technology “is urgent.” But she said there is also good news, pointing to some global progress at the United Nations to address the threats as a result of the development of norms for the use of such technology.
Estonia’s Prime Minister Juri Ratas, whose country holds the Security Council presidency and organized Friday’s meeting on cyber stability and advancing responsible government behavior in cyberspace, said “the COVID-19 crisis has put extra pressure on our critical services in terms of cybersecurity.”
He said the need for “a secure and functioning cyberspace” is therefore more pressing than ever and he condemned cyberattacks targeting hospitals, medical research facilities and other infrastructure, especially during the pandemic.
“Those attacks are unacceptable,” Ratas said. “It will be important to hold the offenders responsible for their behavior.”


Italy’s first Islamic burial place planned for Rome

Updated 04 June 2020

Italy’s first Islamic burial place planned for Rome

  • ‘Garden of Peace’ project seeks crowdfunding from country’s 2.6m Muslims
  • An architect has prepared blueprints, featuring palm trees, fountains and obelisks amid a serene burial place

ROME: Italy’s first Islamic cemetery may soon be built on a green space in Tragliatella, a few kilometers north of Rome.

The burial place — to be built on a 400 hectare area near the border between Fiumicino, close to the international airport, and the city of Bracciano —  will be the first cemetery dedicated to Muslims in a country where Islam is the second-largest religion.

Bachcu Dhuumcatu, president of the Dhuumcatu Bengali community association in Rome, told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that the cemetery could hold up to 16,000 plots.

“We will call it the ‘Garden of Peace’,” he said.

“The cemetery will allow second and third-generation Muslims living in Italy to avoid going through what we are forced to, facing a situation that became even more difficult with the coronavirus pandemic.”

The site of the proposed cemetery is valued at €7 million ($7.8 million) and is yet to be purchased. However, an architect has already prepared blueprints for the project, featuring palm trees, fountains and obelisks amid a serene burial place.

A Qur’anic school, sports center and space for halal slaughter have also been proposed for the site.

Finding a suitable location for the Islamic cemetery has been far from easy, however.

“At the beginning we had intensive talks with the Rome City Council, but we could not find (an agreement) on a possible location,” Dhuumcatu said.

Rome’s Municipal Cimitero is one of only 58 cemeteries in Italy available for Islamic burials. However, it is too small to meet demand and all its spaces are full.

If the Tragliatella project gets the green light, the new Islamic cemetery will provide a solution for the central Italian region, home to large numbers of Muslims.

“We had looked for a space in Guidonia, another large town not far from Rome. But even there we could not find a suitable place for our cemetery,” Dhuumcatu said.

“We finally came to the Tragliatella option a few months ago. We were about to start talks with the Fiumicino authorities, but the coronavirus emergency began and the discussions had to stop,” he said.

Under Italian law, the land must be bought by the Islamic community and then donated to the Fiumicino municipality as part of an agreement that allows it to be transformed into a cemetery.

“If we succeed, we can finally be buried facing Makkah and with the coffin carried by eight people — all things that have not always been guaranteed to us so far,” Dhuumcatu said.

Only 58 of Italy’s 8,000 municipalities have dedicated spaces for Muslims inside their cemeteries.

However, even when space is available, it is limited and often fails to meet demand, which increased dramatically in the first half of 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The result was a shortage of Muslim burial spots.

Rome’s Bengali association, with about 35,000 members, has appealed for crowdfunding from all 2.6 million Muslims living in Italy since it wants the cemetery to be open to all nationalities.

“The first donations are coming in. We will make it,” Dhuumcatu said.

However, Italy’s right-wing League party has voiced its opposition to the Tragliatella project.

“Muslims try to use cemeteries to establish their customs in areas without consulting the local population. We are against this,” said Sen. William De Vecchis.

Antonio Decaro, mayor of Bari and president of the National Association of Italian Communes, told Arab News: “I fully understand the cemetery’s appeal to Muslim citizens. I think the time has come to find solutions.”