Iran executes journalist Ruhollah Zam who encouraged 2017 protests

Iran executes journalist Ruhollah Zam who encouraged 2017 protests
Iran Judiciary on Dec. 7 said it had upheld a death sentence for Ruhollah Zam, a former opposition figure who had lived in exile in France and was implicated in anti-government protests. (File/AFP)
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Updated 12 December 2020

Iran executes journalist Ruhollah Zam who encouraged 2017 protests

Iran executes journalist Ruhollah Zam who encouraged 2017 protests
  • State-run IRNA news agency said that Ruhollah Zam was hanged early Saturday morning
  • Zam's execution shows the extent of the Iranian authorities’ brutal tactics to instill fear: Amnesty International

TEHRAN: Iran on Saturday executed an exiled journalist over his online work that helped inspire nationwide economic protests in 2017, a little more than a year after authorities tricked him into traveling to Iraq where he was abducted.
Ruhollah Zam, 47, was one of several opposition figures successfully seized by Iranian intelligence operatives abroad in recent months as Tehran struggles under the weight of US sanctions.
Kidnapping and executing Zam, who lived in Paris under what Iran described as French government protection, likely will further chill an already-scattered Iranian opposition across the West. It also comes as Iran tries to pressure France and other European nations over the collapsed atomic accord in the waning days of President Donald Trump's administration.
Zam's “execution is a deadly blow to freedom of expression in Iran and shows the extent of the Iranian authorities’ brutal tactics to instill fear and deter dissent,” warned Diana Eltahawy of Amnesty International.

“The world must not stand by in silence as the Iranian authorities take their already horrific attacks on the right to life and freedom expression to unprecedented levels. We call on the international community, including member states of the UN Human Rights Council and the EU, to take immediate action to pressure the Iranian authorities to halt their escalating use of the death penalty as a weapon of political repression,” Eltahawy added. 
Iranian state television referred to Zam as “the leader of the riots” in announcing his execution by hanging early Saturday. In June, a court sentenced Zam to death, saying he had been convicted of “corruption on Earth,” a charge often used in cases involving espionage or attempts to overthrow Iran’s government.
Zam’s website AmadNews and a channel he created on the popular messaging app Telegram had spread the timings of the 2017 protests and embarrassing information about officials that directly challenged Iran’s Shiite theocracy.
Those demonstrations, which began at the end of December 2017 and continued into 2018, represented the biggest challenge to Iran's rulers since the 2009 Green Movement protests and set the stage for similar mass unrest in November of last year.
The initial spark for the 2017 protests was a sudden jump in food prices. Many believe that hard-line opponents of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani instigated the first demonstrations in the conservative city of Mashhad in northeastern Iran, trying to direct public anger at the president. But as protests spread from town to town, the backlash turned against the entire ruling class.
Soon, cries directly challenging Rouhani and even Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei could be heard in online videos shared by Zam.
Telegram shut down the channel over Iranian government complaints it spread information about how to make gasoline bombs. The channel later continued under a different name. Zam denied inciting violence on Telegram at the time.
The 2017 protests reportedly saw some 5,000 people detained and 25 killed.
Zam himself had fled Iran after the 2009 protests, heading first to Malaysia and then to France. While Iranian authorities have never described how Iran's Revolutionary Guard detained him, Amnesty said he was seized on a trip to neighboring Iraq — where the Guard has wielded deep influence since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Zam's father, the reformist Shiite cleric Mohammad Ali Zam, seemed to confirm the Iraqi abduction in comments on Instagram on Saturday.
“I made a deal with god, I have no worries, these people brought me to Karbala, but did not allow me to visit the shrine," the Instagram post quotes the younger Zam as saying. Karbala is home to the shrine of Imam Hussein, an important pilgrimage point for Shiites.
The post added: "I told him, ‘Don’t worry, Imam Hussein is in all visitors’ hearts, he is with you.’”
The cleric said he only was allowed to visit Tehran's Evin prison on Friday to see his son after agreeing with authorities not to tell him his execution loomed. Iranian media did not acknowledge the post.
France previously has criticized his death sentence as "a serious blow to freedom of expression and press freedom in Iran.” Reporters Without Borders, a group that campaigns for press freedoms, said Zam's hanging was a "new crime of Iranian justice.”
Sherif Mansour of the Committee to Protect Journalists said Zam's execution had seen "Iranian authorities join the company of criminal gangs and violent extremists who silence journalists by murdering them.”
“This is a monstrous and shameful act, and one which the international community must not let pass unnoticed,” Mansour said.
Iran is one of the world's top executioners.
Zam is one of three opposition figures apparently detained in intelligence operations abroad. In late July, a California-based member of an Iranian militant opposition group in exile was abducted by Iran while staying in Dubai, his family has said.
Iran also is believed to have seized the former head of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz, a militant separatist group, while he was in Turkey. Iran has accused Farajollah Cha’ab of being behind a 2018 attack on a military parade that killed at least 25 people and wounded 70.


Hia Magazine unveils 'Hia Hub'

Hia Hub logo (Supplied)
Hia Hub logo (Supplied)
Updated 01 December 2021

Hia Magazine unveils 'Hia Hub'

Hia Hub logo (Supplied)

RIYADH, KSA: Driven by its ongoing commitment to excellence, authenticity, and women empowerment, Hia magazine today announced the launch of Hia Hub. A unique experience, Hia Hub will bring to life a series of art, culture, and creative activations, lectures, and exhibitions in Jax District - Riyadh, running from 5- 20 December 2021.

Hia Hub will house a series of exclusive events curated to provide an exceptional experience including:

“Waha” exhibition by Sarah Shakeel: Artist Sarah Shakeel creates a unique artistic experience at Hia Hub through her exhibition “Waha”. Showcasing her renowned style that combines reality with imagination, Shakeel will take guests to a desert scene sparkling with crystals, where a tent covered with Swarovski crystals will display the artist’s creations.

For full details and timings of the exhibition, please visit www.hiamag.com/hiahub

The Valentino Exhibition: A unique showcase presenting Valentino’s new Party Collection. The new collection celebrates the gradual return to life in preparation for the end of year holiday season. A fun collection displayed in a very chic home party setting, which will inspire visitors to rediscover the glamourous couture of these special occasions. Select numbers of fashion students will also be able to visit the Valentino exhibition at Hia Hub to experience the work of this leading fashion house up close.

Hia Hub Talks: Hia magazine has always been a source of inspiration for Arab women on issues of fashion, beauty and creativity. Hia Hub will provide a creative space where inspiring stories are shared, and pioneering dialogues and discussions on issues that resonate with the contemporary woman will take place. Talks will be hosted by regional and global female leaders in fashion, arts and culture, including CEOs of organizations like Threads Styling, Tasami and 500 Startups MENA. The stellar list of participants includes the international model Candice Swanepoel, who will share her thoughts on how core values of sustainability and community empowerment can create positive impact on the environment. Prior registration at www.hiamag.com/hiahub is required to attend all Talks.

Shows, workshops and masterclasses: Guests and visitors of Hia Hub will have a unique opportunity to explore the latest collections and offers, presented in partnership with international luxury brands. Visitors will also have the opportunity to attend exclusive masterclasses and workshops conducted by renowned experts in the design and beauty field, including international stylist Dani Michelle, who works with some of the biggest international stars such as Kendall Jenner and Kourtney Kardashian, and will provide an exclusive masterclass that can be pre-registered through hiamag.com/hiahub.

Another key participant in Hia Hub is Quormoz, a renowned Saudi design house which focuses on heritage and culture to showcase the best of local creative talent.

Mai Badr, Editor-in-chief of Hia magazine said: “The launch of Hia Hub asserts Hia magazine’s ongoing commitment to supporting creativity, art and culture and what these values represent for empowered women. We are immensely proud of our legacy and through Hia Hub we can provide an unparalleled platform to empower women in the region and build ambitious goals to inspire them, showcase their success stories and highlight their achievements.”

Hia Hub will take place in Jax District, D9, Diriyah, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Visit www.hiamag.com/hiahub for more details and to register for events.


Fox News host criticized for comparing US chief medical adviser to Nazi doctor

Prominent Jewish groups and the Auschwitz Museum condemned Logan’s comments, describing them as “shameful.” (File/AFP)
Prominent Jewish groups and the Auschwitz Museum condemned Logan’s comments, describing them as “shameful.” (File/AFP)
Updated 01 December 2021

Fox News host criticized for comparing US chief medical adviser to Nazi doctor

Prominent Jewish groups and the Auschwitz Museum condemned Logan’s comments, describing them as “shameful.” (File/AFP)
  • Fox News host and commentator Lara Logan was on Tuesday criticized for comparing America’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci to Nazi doctor

LONDON: Fox News host and commentator Lara Logan was on Tuesday criticized for comparing America’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci to Nazi doctor Josef Mengele.

During “Fox News Primetime” on Monday the journalist said that people had told her that Fauci did not represent science but rather Mengele, who was known as the Angel of Death for the atrocities he committed while performing medical experiments at the Auschwitz death camp.

During the TV show, Logan said: “What you see on Dr. Fauci — this is what people say to me: That he doesn’t represent science to them. He represents Josef Mengele.

“Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor who did experiments on Jews during the Second World War and in the concentration camps. And I am talking about people all around the world are saying this,” she added.

Prominent Jewish groups and the Auschwitz Museum condemned Logan’s comments, describing them as “shameful.”

Meanwhile, the American Jewish Committee called on Logan, 50, to apologize. On her comments it said: “Utterly shameful. Josef Mengele earned his nickname by performing deadly and inhumane medical experiments on prisoners of the Holocaust, including children.

“There is no comparing the hell these victims went through to public health measures. An apology is needed.”

Head of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, said: “There’s absolutely no comparison between mask mandates, vaccine requirements, and other COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) mitigation efforts to what happened to Jews during the Holocaust.”


STARZPLAY hosts ‘House of Gucci’ UAE premiere

STARZPLAY hosts ‘House of Gucci’ UAE premiere
Updated 01 December 2021

STARZPLAY hosts ‘House of Gucci’ UAE premiere

STARZPLAY hosts ‘House of Gucci’ UAE premiere
  • The biographical drama will be available to stream on STARZPLAY after its theatrical release

DUBAI: STARZPLAY, in association with Gulf Films, hosted the UAE premiere of American biographical crime drama “House of Gucci” at the NOVO 7-Star cinema at IMG Worlds of Adventure in Dubai.

The premiere was the first look for select guests before the film’s official release in UAE cinemas. Following its theatrical release, the movie will be available to stream exclusively on STARZPLAY.

Currently, the platform is streaming a biographical documentary about the same story, “Lady Gucci,” via the Discovery+ add-on channel. In the 75-minute documentary, the former Mrs. Gucci, Patrizia Reggiani, tells her story in an exclusive interview.

The latest film “House of Gucci” has a star-studded cast featuring Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Salma Hayek, and Jared Leto and is directed by acclaimed director Ridley Scott, known for films such as “Blade Runner,” “Black Hawk Down,” and “The Martian.”

The move marks STARZPLAY’s dominance in the regional streaming market. This year alone, the platform has made deals that saw it enter the Asian market as well as strengthen its foothold in the Middle East through partnerships with Abu Dhabi Media and Turkish content companies.


Google to ban political advertising ahead of Philippine elections

Google to ban political advertising ahead of Philippine elections
Updated 01 December 2021

Google to ban political advertising ahead of Philippine elections

Google to ban political advertising ahead of Philippine elections
  • Move comes amid pressure on social media platforms over their handling of political advertising during the US presidential election in 2020

MANILA: Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Wednesday it will ban political advertising on its platform in the run-up to Philippine elections in May next year to choose a successor to President Rodrigo Duterte.
The move comes amid pressure on social media platforms over their handling of political advertising during the US presidential election in 2020.
Social media platforms have become political battlegrounds in the Southeast Asian nation, with studies showing Filipinos top the rankings globally for time spent on social media.
Election advertisements that promote or oppose any political party or the candidacy of any person or party for public office, would not be allowed to run between Feb. 8 to May 9, 2022, Google said in an update to its political content policy.
The dates cover the period of campaigning in the Philippines up to election day on May 9.
Google said notifications would be sent to affected advertisers about the policy update.
Google has banned political advertising on its platform before, including in Canada’s federal election in 2019 and before an election in Singapore in 2020.
Social media platforms like Facebook have helped strengthen Duterte’s support base, with analysts regarding them as instrumental in his election victory in 2016 and a rout by his allies in mid-term polls last year.
The Philippines will choose a successor to Duterte, who under the constitution is not allowed to seek another term, but will be standing for a senator’s seat.


CNN anchor Chris Cuomo suspended for helping his brother against sexual misconduct allegations 

 In this combination of photos New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, left, and his brother CNN anchor Chris Cuomo. (File/AFP)
In this combination of photos New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, left, and his brother CNN anchor Chris Cuomo. (File/AFP)
Updated 01 December 2021

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo suspended for helping his brother against sexual misconduct allegations 

 In this combination of photos New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, left, and his brother CNN anchor Chris Cuomo. (File/AFP)
  • CNN suspended prime time anchor Chris Cuomo “indefinitely, pending further evaluation” for helping his brother against sexual misconduct allegations

LONDON: CNN suspended prime time anchor Chris Cuomo “indefinitely, pending further evaluation,” on Tuesday after an investigation revealed that he helped his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, defend himself against sexual misconduct allegations.

The investigation, conducted by the New York Attorney General Letitia James, showed “a greater level of involvement” in Cuomo’s efforts to help his brother, Andrew, than previously known. 

Andrew Cuomo had resigned in August after he was accused by various women of sexual misconduct. Chris Cuomo’s efforts to help his brother were widely considered a breach of journalistic ethics in the media industry. 

At the time of Andrew’s resignation, Chris Cuomo had told CNN viewers that he was “not an advisor,” but “a brother.” 

However, the new evidence revealed that Cuomo used media contacts to find out details about the women accusing Andrew of sexual harassement. 

“When Chris admitted to us that he had offered advice to his brother’s staff, he broke our rules and we acknowledged that publicly,” CNN said in a statement shortly after Cuomo’s suspension. 

“But we also appreciated the unique position he was in and understood his need to put family first and job second. However, these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew. As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation.”

The documents revealed heaps of emails and text messages that point to the extent of Cuomo’s involvement, particularly with the governor’s staff.

“Please let me help with the prep,” Cuomo texted a senior aide, Melissa DeRosa. “You need to trust me we are making mistakes we can't afford,” he added. 

Another set of messages revealed that Cuomo had texted DeRosa saying “I have a lead on the wedding girl,” a reference to Anna Ruch, a woman who accused Andrew Cuomo of attempting to kiss her at a wedding.