Algerian actresses call foul on femicide

Students, wearing face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, maintain social distance as they arrive on the first day of school following the resumption of classes in the Algerian capital Algiers on October 21, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 24 October 2020

Algerian actresses call foul on femicide

  • The North African country, like its neighbors Tunisia and Morocco, does not publish official nationwide figures on murders of women

TUNIS: Algerian actresses angered by murders and violence targeting women have launched a campaign to fight the phenomenon — but not everyone has welcomed their initiative.
After the gruesome rape, torture and murder of a 19-year-old woman sparked angry demonstrations earlier this month and calls for a return to capital punishment, 22 actresses published a photo of themselves dressed in black.
“We, Algerian actresses, unite today to say enough to violence and killings of women. We are calling for more awareness and a general mobilization to stop this violence,” said a statement by the women, many of them household names in Algeria.
The North African country, like its neighbors Tunisia and Morocco, does not publish official nationwide figures on murders of women.
But campaign group Femicides Algeria recorded 75 such killings in 2019, with a further 41 so far this year.
The group says the actual figure is much higher.
And while the government last year registered some 7,000 complaints of violence against women, activists say it has done little in response — prompting the actresses to launch their own initiative.
“This campaign is aimed at everyone, men and women. It’s not to accuse Algerian men but to make everyone responsible,” said Salima Abada, a popular actress in the North African country who is among those involved. She said it was already having an impact.

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75 women were murdered in 2019 with a further 41 so far this year, according to the campaign group Femicides Algeria.

“There’s debate, anger, people are fed up — but it’s already a beginning,” she said. But a video of one of the actresses has already triggered a bitter backlash on social media.
Mounia Benfeghoul published a video on Instagram early this month following the news of the grim killing of the 19-year-old, identified as Chaima.
In an angry monologue, Benfeghoul slammed people who had made excuses for the killer: “There are no excuses for rapists! It was a rape! She didn’t consent!”
Well-known as a TV presenter, Benfeghoul said she was against the death penalty — but favored castrating sex offenders.
She also criticized a culture of street harassment and called for children to be provided with “a good example.”
Her outburst set loose a wave of insults on social media, with men mocking her dress, calling her a “whore” and one man publishing a video in which he threatened her with physical violence.
Those reactions were simply “because she’s a woman,” said Abdellah Benadouda, founder of the US-based Radio Corona Internationale.
“She said nothing new. She confirmed what we already know: That taboos in Algerian society are at the source of the silence around rape, incest and paedophilia,” he wrote on Facebook. “The truth hurts.”


Iran prepares to bury killed nuclear scientist as it mulls response

Updated 27 min 15 sec ago

Iran prepares to bury killed nuclear scientist as it mulls response

  • Mohsen Fakhrizadeh died from wounds sustained in a firefight between his guards and unidentified gunmen near Tehran
  • President Hassan Rouhani has stressed the country will seek its revenge in “due time” and not be rushed into a “trap”

TEHRAN: Debate raged in Iran on Sunday over how and when to respond to a top nuclear scientist’s assassination, blamed on arch-foe Israel, as his body was honored at Shiite shrines to prepare it for burial.
Two days after Mohsen Fakhrizadeh died from wounds sustained in a firefight between his guards and unidentified gunmen near Tehran, parliament demanded a halt to international inspections of Iranian nuclear sites while a top official hinted Iran should leave the global non-proliferation treaty.
Iran’s Supreme National Security Council usually handles decisions related to the country’s nuclear program, and parliamentary bills must be approved by the powerful Guardians Council.
President Hassan Rouhani has stressed the country will seek its revenge in “due time” and not be rushed into a “trap.”
Israel says Fakhrizadeh was the head of an Iranian military nuclear program, the existence of which the Islamic republic has consistently denied, and Washington had sanctioned him in 2008 for activities linked to Iran’s atomic activities.
The scientist’s body was taken for a ceremony on Sunday at a major shrine in the holy city of Qom before being transported to the shrine of the Islamic republic’s founder Imam Khomeini, according to Iranian media.
On Monday live video from Tehran, shared by national outlet Iran Press, showed uniformed men gathering around images of Fakhrizadeh seemingly ahead of a procession.
His funeral will be held in the presence of senior military commanders and his family, the defense ministry said on its website, without specifying where.
Israel has not officially commented on Fakhrizadeh’s killing, less than two months before US President-elect Joe Biden is set to take office after four years of hawkish foreign policy under President Donald Trump.
Trump withdrew the US from a multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran in 2018 and then reimposed and beefed up punishing sanctions as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran.
Biden has signalled his administration may be prepared to rejoin the accord, but the nuclear scientist’s assassination has revived opposition to the deal among Iranian conservatives.
The head of Iran’s Expediency Council, a key advisory and arbitration body, said there was “no reason why (Iran) should not reconsider the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty.”
Mohsen Rezai said Tehran should also halt implementation of the additional protocol, a document prescribing intrusive inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilitates.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Saturday for Fakhrizadeh’s killers to be punished.
Parliament speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf called Sunday for “a strong reaction” that would “deter and take revenge” on those behind the killing of Fakhrizadeh, who was aged 59 according to Iranian media.
For Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Fakhrizadeh’s killing was clearly tied to Biden’s arrival in office.
“The timing of the assassination, even if it was determined by purely operational considerations, is a clear message to President-elect Joe Biden, intended to show Israel’s criticism” of plans to revive the deal, it said.
The UAE, which in September normalized ties with Israel, condemned the killing and urged restraint.
The foreign ministry, quoted by the official Emirati news agency WAM, said Abu Dhabi “condemns the heinous assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, which could further fuel conflict in the region...
“The UAE calls upon all parties to exercise maximum degrees of self-restraint to avoid dragging the region into new levels of instability and threat to peace,” it said.
Britain, a party to the nuclear accord, said Sunday it was “concerned” about possible escalation of tensions in the Middle East following the assassination, while Turkey called the killing an act of “terrorism” that “upsets peace in the region.”
In Iran, ultra-conservative Kayhan daily called for strikes on Israel if it were “proven” to be behind the assassination.
Kayhan called for the port city of Haifa to be targeted “in a way that would annihilate its infrastructure and leave a heavy human toll.”
Iran has responded to the US withdrawal from the 2015 deal by gradually abandoning most of its key nuclear commitments under the agreement.
Rezai called on Iran’s atomic agency to take “minimum measures” such as “stopping the online broadcast of cameras, reducing or suspending inspectors and implementing restrictions in their access” to sites, ISNA news agency reported.
Iran’s parliament said the “best response” to the assassination would be to “revive Iran’s glorious nuclear industry.”
It called for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to be barred from the country’s atomic sites, said the legislature’s news agency ICANA.
Some MPs had earlier accused inspectors of acting as “spies” potentially responsible for Fakhrizadeh’s death.
But the spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy organization, Behrouz Kamalvandi, told IRNA on Saturday that the issue of inspectors’ access “must be decided on at high levels” of the Islamic republic’s leadership.