Church in former Daesh Iraqi stronghold gets new bell

Church in former Daesh Iraqi stronghold gets new bell
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People ring the newly inaugurated bell at Syriac Christian church of Mar Tuma in Iraq's second city of Mosul. (AFP)
Church in former Daesh Iraqi stronghold gets new bell
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This areal view shows the Syriac Christian church of Mar Tuma in the country's second city of Mosul. (AFP)
Church in former Daesh Iraqi stronghold gets new bell
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The church bell tower of the Syriac Christian church of Mar Tuma. (AFP)
Church in former Daesh Iraqi stronghold gets new bell
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Iraqi christians chant during the inauguration ceremony for the new bell at Syriac Christian church of Mar Tuma in Mosul. (AFP)
Church in former Daesh Iraqi stronghold gets new bell
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People gather to inaugurate the new bell at Syriac Christian church of Mar Tuma in Iraq's second city of Mosul. (AFP)
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Updated 18 September 2021

Church in former Daesh Iraqi stronghold gets new bell

Church in former Daesh Iraqi stronghold gets new bell
  • The bell weighing 285kg was cast in Lebanon with donations from a French NGO

MOSUL: A bell was inaugurated at a church in Mosul on Saturday to the cheers of Iraqi Christians, seven years after the Daesh group overran the northern city.
Dozens of faithful stood by as Father Pios Affas rang the newly installed bell for the first time at the Syriac Christian church of Mar Tuma, an AFP correspondent reported.
It drew applause and ululations from the crowd, who took photos on mobile phones, before prayers were held.
“After seven years of silence, the bell of Mar Tuma rang for the first time on the right bank of Mosul,” Affas told them.
Daesh swept into Mosul and proclaimed it their “capital” in 2014, in an onslaught that forced hundreds of thousands of Christians in the northern Nineveh province to flee, some to Iraq’s nearby Kurdistan region.
The Iraqi army drove out the jihadists three years later after months of gruelling street fighting.
The return of the Mosul church bell “heralds days of hope, and opens the way, God willing, for the return of Christians to their city,” said Affas.
“This is a great day of joy, and I hope the joy will grow even more when not only all the churches and mosques in Mosul are rebuilt, but also the whole city, with its houses and historical sites,” he told AFP.
The bell weighing 285 kilogrammes (nearly 630 pounds) was cast in Lebanon with donations from Fraternity in Iraq, a French NGO that helps religious minorities, and transported from Beirut to Mosul by plane and truck.
The church of Mar Tuma, which dates back to the 19th century, was used by the jihadists as a prison or a court.
Restoration work is ongoing and its marble floor has been dismantled to be completely redone.
Nidaa Abdel Ahad, one of the faithful attending the inauguration, said she had returned to her home town from Irbil so that she could see the church being “brought back to life.”
“My joy is indescribable,” said the teacher in her forties. “It’s as if the heart of Christianity is beating again.”
Faraj-Benoit Camurat, founder and head of Fraternity in Iraq, said that “all the representations of the cross, all the Christian representations, were destroyed,” including marble altars.
“We hope this bell will be the symbol of a kind of rebirth in Mosul,” he told AFP by telephone.
Iraq’s Christian community, which numbered more than 1.5 million in 2003 before the US-led invasion, has shrunk to about 400,000, with many of them fleeing the recurrent violence that has ravaged the country.
Camurat said around 50 Christian families had resettled in Mosul, while others travel there to work for the day.
“The Christians could have left forever and abandoned Mosul,” but instead they being very active in the city, he said.


Arab coalition announces Sanaa operation to deter Houthis from targeting civilians

Arab coalition announces Sanaa operation to deter Houthis from targeting civilians
Updated 28 sec ago

Arab coalition announces Sanaa operation to deter Houthis from targeting civilians

Arab coalition announces Sanaa operation to deter Houthis from targeting civilians
  • The coalition warned that it would “strike with an iron fist” if Houthi violations continue
  • Operation is a response to the Houthi threat and aims to deter the militia from targeting civilians and civilian objects: Coalition

RIYADH: The Arab coalition announced the implementation of an operation in Sanaa to push back the Houthis on Thursday.

The operation is a response to the Houthi threat and aims to deter the militia from targeting civilians and civilian objects, the coalition said.

It came to neutralize the threat of imminent attacks on civilian facilities in the Kingdom and the coalition has exercised the highest degree of restraint in the face of recent Houthi violations, the coalition said.

 The operation took into account preventive measures to protect civilians and the militia is an existential threat to international peace and security, the coalition said.

The coalition warned that it would “strike with an iron fist” within the framework of international humanitarian law if Houthi violations continue.


Footage shows violent arrest of Iranian woman with dog-catching pole

Footage shows violent arrest of Iranian woman with dog-catching pole
Updated 21 October 2021

Footage shows violent arrest of Iranian woman with dog-catching pole

Footage shows violent arrest of Iranian woman with dog-catching pole
  • Rights campaigner: Police often ‘make up charges’ against women who breach morality laws

LONDON: Footage circulating online appears to show the violent arrest with a dog-catching pole of an Iranian woman accused of breaking morality laws.

The footage shows the unidentified woman being pulled violently by her hair through the streets of Tehran, ensnared by the catchpole, before being bundled into a “morality police” van.

Two men and a woman are seen forcing her into the van as she tries to resist. The victim’s head is smashed into the roof of the van as she is pushed inside.

 

 

Masih Alinejad, a prominent Iranian women’s rights campaigner who uploaded the footage, said the woman was arrested for failing to wear a head covering, which is mandatory for women in the country. “Unveiled women (are accused) of prostitution or creating moral corruption,” she tweeted.

Tehran’s police chief said the woman was arrested for being “insulting and aggressive,” but Alinejad said police often “make up other charges” against women who breach morality laws.

Police told Iranian media that further charges had been brought by a local shop owner, but they did not disclose what charges or by whom.

Tehran’s police also did not say whether the woman was injured during the arrest, but pledged to investigate the footage.

Alinejad said it is a “big lie” that officers will be held accountable for their actions. “Last time when morality police savagely beat women, police showed the same reaction,” she added. “But as soon as the atmosphere calmed down, they prosecuted the woman who filmed it.”

Rights groups have long criticized Iran’s treatment of women in Iran, who face discrimination across a host of areas.


Libyan PM backs Dec. 24 election

Libyan PM backs Dec. 24 election
Updated 21 October 2021

Libyan PM backs Dec. 24 election

Libyan PM backs Dec. 24 election
  • Dbeibah said it was possible to end the lengthy crisis since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Qaddafi

TRIPOLI: Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah supported on Thursday the holding of a national election on Dec. 24 as envisaged in a UN-backed peace plan.
Speaking at the Libya Stabilization Conference in Tripoli, he said it was possible to end the lengthy crisis that has engulfed the country since the NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
“We support the efforts of the higher election committee to hold (the vote) on the planned date. I call for a wide and effective participation of Libyans in the elections,” Dbeibah said.
The election, agreed under a UN-supported peace process, has been viewed as a key step in efforts to end a decade of violence by creating a new political leadership whose legitimacy is widely accepted.
Wrangling over the constitutional basis for an election, the rules governing the vote and questions over its credibility have threatened to unravel the peace process.
The United Nations process has called for presidential and parliamentary elections for December 24.
However, although the parliament has issued a law for the presidential election on that date, it has issued a separate law saying the parliamentary election will happen at a later date. Other political institutions in Libya have rejected the parliament’s proposals.


Iran holds nationwide air force drill, latest armed exercise

Iran holds nationwide air force drill, latest armed exercise
Updated 21 October 2021

Iran holds nationwide air force drill, latest armed exercise

Iran holds nationwide air force drill, latest armed exercise
  • Iran’s annual air force drill comes a week after its held a two-day annual air defense drill in the country’s sprawling central desert

TEHRAN: Iran on Thursday kicked off an annual air force drill across the country, a week after holding another massive exercise in air defense, state TV reported.
The report said bombers, jet fighters, and attack and surveillance drones will participate in the drill, using heavy weapons including laser-guided missiles.
It said all Iranian military air bases will participate in the maneuver. Reportedly, Iran has 12 air bases. The report did not say how long the drill will last.
It came a week after Iran held a two-day annual air defense drill in the country’s sprawling central desert, with both the army and the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard taking part.
Iran regularly holds such drills and says they assess the troops’ combat readiness and demonstrate the nation’s military capabilities.
The region remains on edge over Iran’s escalating nuclear program. Talks in Vienna to revive Tehran’s now-tattered 2015 accord with world powers have stalled since June, with no date set for their resumption.
The 2015 nuclear deal saw Tehran drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. In 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord, raising tensions across the wider Middle East and sparking a series of attacks and incidents.


Israel reports subvariant of Delta coronavirus strain

Israel reports subvariant of Delta coronavirus strain
Updated 21 October 2021

Israel reports subvariant of Delta coronavirus strain

Israel reports subvariant of Delta coronavirus strain
  • An 11-year-old boy arriving from Europe was the carrier
  • The variant was discovered as Israel considers loosening restrictions on tourism

JERUSALEM: Israel has confirmed a case of a sub-variant of the Delta strain of the coronavirus previously reported in some European countries, the health ministry said.
“The variant AY 4.2. that has been discovered in a number of countries in Europe has been identified in Israel,” a ministry statement said late Tuesday.
An 11-year-old boy arriving from Europe was the carrier, the ministry said, adding that the case was identified at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. The boy was quarantined and no further contacts have been discovered, the ministry said.
The AY 4.2. variant has turned up several times in the United Kingdom.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held an emergency meeting on Wednesday with health ministry officials and announced that Israel would take measures “to preserve the positive results of the fight against the virus,” a statement from his office said.
Bennett requested that an epidemiological investigation into the new variant be bolstered, and urged liaison with other countries where the sub-variant has been detected.
Changes to entry requirements for visitors would also be considered.
Francois Balloux, professor of computational systems biology at University College London, has said that the subvariant is rare and does not appear to pose the same risk of significantly increased transmission as other strains.
The variant was discovered as Israel considers loosening restrictions on tourism following a drop in cases.
An earlier plan to reopen the borders foundered amid a rise in cases driven by the Delta strain.
In late August and early September, new cases topped 11,000 a day.
Authorities launched an aggressive campaign to inoculate citizens with a third, booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which drove down infections.