Taliban strike journalists at Kabul women’s rights protest

Taliban strike journalists at Kabul women’s rights protest
A Taliban member, left, attacks a foreign photographer covering a women’s rights protest in Kabul on Oct. 21, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 21 October 2021

Taliban strike journalists at Kabul women’s rights protest

Taliban strike journalists at Kabul women’s rights protest
  • One foreign journalist was struck with the butt of a rifle by one Taliban fighter
  • Afghans have staged street protests across the country since the Taliban returned to power

KABUL: The Taliban struck several journalists to prevent media coverage of a women’s rights protest in Kabul on Thursday.
A group of about 20 women marched from near the ministry of education to the ministry of finance in the Afghan capital.
Wearing colorful headscarves they chanted slogans including: “Don’t politicize education,” as traffic drove by shortly before 10 am.
The women held placards saying: “We don’t have the rights to study and work,” and” “Joblessness, poverty, hunger,” as they walked with their arms in the air.
The Taliban authorities allowed the women to walk freely for around an hour and a half, AFP journalists saw.
However, one foreign journalist was struck with the butt of a rifle by one Taliban fighter, who swore and kicked the photographer in the back as another punched him.
At least two more journalists were hit as they scattered, pursued by Taliban fighters swinging fists and launching kicks.
Zahra Mohammadi, one of the protest organizers, said the women were marching despite the risks they face.
“The situation is that the Taliban don’t respect anything: not journalists — foreign and local — or women,” she said.
“The schools must reopen to girls. But the Taliban took this right from us.”
High school girls have been blocked from returning to classes for more than a month, while many women have been banned from returning to work since the Taliban seized power in mid-August.
“My message to all girls and women is this: ‘Don’t be afraid of the Taliban, even if your family doesn’t allow you to leave your home. Don’t be afraid. Go out, make sacrifices, fight for your rights’,” Mohammadi said.
“We have to make this sacrifice so that the next generation will be in peace.”
Children walked alongside the protest in downtown Kabul, although it was unclear if they were part of the organized group.
Some Taliban fighters policing the march wore full camouflaged combat gear, including body armor, helmets and knee pads, while others were wearing traditional Afghan clothing.
Their weapons included US-made M16 assault rifles and AK-47s.
Unthinkable under the hard-line Islamist group’s last rule in the 1990s, Afghans have staged street protests across the country since the Taliban returned to power, sometimes with several hundred people and many with women at forefront.
But a ban on unauthorized demonstrations has meant protests against Afghanistan’s new masters have dwindled.


Filipino journalist shot dead while watching TV in store

Filipino journalist shot dead while watching TV in store
Updated 09 December 2021

Filipino journalist shot dead while watching TV in store

Filipino journalist shot dead while watching TV in store
  • Jesus Malabanan is provincial correspondent for the Manila Standard newspaper
  • A media protection body created by President Rodrigo Duterte strongly condemned the killing

MANILA: A gunman shot and killed a journalist who was watching TV at a store in a central Philippine city, in a brazen attack in what has long been regarded as one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists.
Jesus Malabanan, a 58-year-old provincial correspondent for the Manila Standard newspaper, died while being transported to a hospital after being shot once in the head by one of two motorcycle-riding men Wednesday night at a family store he was tending in Calbayog city in Samar province, police and officials said Thursday.
The suspects escaped and a police investigation is underway to identify them and a motive for the attack.
Media watchdog groups condemned the killing, including Malabanan’s colleagues in Pampanga, a province north of Manila where he was based and worked for years as a news correspondent and as a stringer for Reuters.
A media protection body created by President Rodrigo Duterte strongly condemned the killing and vowed to arrest the killers. But Duterte himself has long been in the crosshairs of media watchdogs and human rights groups, which have repeatedly condemned him for fostering impunity among the police forces that have enforced his crackdown against illegal drugs and left thousands of mostly petty suspects dead.
Dozens of journalists have been killed or come under attack under Duterte and his predecessors. In 2009, members of a powerful political clan and their associates gunned down 58 people, including 32 media workers, in a brazen execution-style attack in southern Maguindanao province that horrified the world.
While the mass killing was later linked to a violent electoral rivalry common in many rural areas, it also showcased the threats faced by journalists in the Philippines. A surfeit of unlicensed guns and private armies controlled by powerful clans and weak law enforcement in rural regions are among the security concerns journalists face in the poverty-stricken Southeast Asian country.
Thirty-two of those gunned down in Maguindanao’s Ampatuan town were local reporters and media workers. It was the deadliest single attack on journalists in recent history, media watchdogs say.
A Philippine court found key members of the Ampatuan family guilty of the mass killings in 2019 but many more suspects remain at large.


Palestinian activists call for boycott of Amira film

Palestinian activists call for boycott of Amira film
Updated 09 December 2021

Palestinian activists call for boycott of Amira film

Palestinian activists call for boycott of Amira film
  • Critics have argued that the movie feeds into Israel’s narrative and discounts the suffering of Palestinians and their struggles

DUBAI: Palestinian activists have launched an online campaign calling for the boycott of a film titled Amira, selected as the Jordanian entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards for mocking Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Using the hashtag #Pull_Out_Amira and Palestinian and pro-Palestine advocates have called on supporters to boycott the film, arguing that it whitewashes Israeli crimes.

Amira, Arabic for princess, follows the life of a 17-year-old Palestinian, who was conceived with the smuggled sperm of her father who is serving a life sentence in an Israeli jail.

After her father fails to conceive another child, it is discovered that he is infertile and that Amira’s biological father is actually an Israeli officer.

Critics have argued that this feeds into Israel’s narrative and discounts the suffering of Palestinians and their struggles. 


US journalist freed in Lebanon after call by rights groups

US journalist freed in Lebanon after call by rights groups
Updated 08 December 2021

US journalist freed in Lebanon after call by rights groups

US journalist freed in Lebanon after call by rights groups
  • Nada Homsi, the journalist, said after her release that her arrest was part of an intimidation campaign used by Lebanon's security agencies against foreign journalists
  • Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said Homsi was arrested without a judicial order on Nov. 16

BEIRUT: Lebanese authorities freed Wednesday a freelance American journalist who was detained in Beirut last month. The release came just hours after two international human rights groups called her detention arbitrary and demanded that she be set free.
Nada Homsi, the journalist, said after her release that her arrest was part of an intimidation campaign used by Lebanon’s security agencies against foreign journalists.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said Homsi was arrested without a judicial order on Nov. 16 by members of Lebanon’s General Security Directorate. The reasons for the raid remain unknown and her detention is now arbitrary, the groups had said.
“I feel good that I’m free but I shouldn’t have been arrested in the first place,” Homsi told The Associated Press, adding that Lebanese security agencies are “going after foreign journalists so that they can’t cover things that are happening in Lebanon.”
Since Lebanon’s economic meltdown began two years ago, many foreign and local journalists have reported on widespread corruption among the country’s political class, which has been running the small nation since the end of the 1975-90 civil war.
“Nada is at home and the decision to deport her has been dropped,” Homsi’s lawyer, Diala Chehade, told the AP, adding that all her papers and documents were given back to her.
Earlier, Chehade said that security force that raided Homsi’s apartment found a small amount of cannabis. Chehade said the officers then called the public prosecutor, who issued an arrest warrant for Homsi and her partner, a Palestinian national. The officers confiscated her electronics and some documents, she said.
General Security members are deployed at Lebanon’s border crossings, ports and the country’s only international airport, and the department usually deals with foreigners by issuing visas and residency permits.
“Not only did General Security officers raid Homsi’s apartment without producing a judicial warrant, but they also violated her rights in detention by denying her access to a lawyer,” said Aya Majzoub, Lebanon researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Chehade said Homsi lives in Beirut’s predominantly Christian neighborhood of Achrafieh and had earlier this year raised a Palestinian flag on her apartment. This angered a district administrator who complained to the Lebanese army. Army intelligence members then came to the apartment and asked Homsi to remove the flag, which she did, Chehade said.
Homsi wrote a post on her Facebook account detailing the flag incident in May, her lawyer said. “I believe this was the motive that led to the raid,” Chehade said, adding that they found the cannabis during the raid.
The two rights groups said that although the public prosecutor ordered her release on Nov. 25, General Security issued a deportation order for her and “continues to detain her arbitrarily.”
On her Twitter account, Homsi writes that she is currently working for National Public Radio and usually writes about Syria and Lebanon. Homsi has worked with several Arab and international outlets, including most recently, NPR.
General Security officers had continued to insist that Homsi was being detained “for security reasons,” but they have failed to provide any details to Chehade to allow her to prepare a defense, the group said. They added that no security or military charges have been filed against Homsi, but she was charged for consumption of drugs.
Chehade filed a request to release Homsi on Nov. 25, and on the same day, the Beirut Public Prosecutor ordered her release. However, General Security continued to detain Homsi under the pretext that she was working in the country without a proper work permit.
Chehade said General Security officials told her Homsi is under arrest for security reasons, without saying what the reasons are.
“The continuation of the arrest is either a stubborn act by General Security or a deliberate policy that they have done with other foreigners before” to deport them, Chehade said.


SRMG announced as official publisher for Red Sea International Film Festival 2021

SRMG announced as official publisher for Red Sea International Film Festival 2021
Updated 08 December 2021

SRMG announced as official publisher for Red Sea International Film Festival 2021

SRMG announced as official publisher for Red Sea International Film Festival 2021
  • Region’s leading media group appointed as the official publisher at one of the Middle East and North Africa’s biggest film festivals
  • SRMG and RSIFF have established a shared commitment of championing the multimedia and creative arts industries, making them natural partners for the 2021 Festival

RIYADH: The global media house from the Middle East, Saudi Research and Media Group (SRMG), has been selected as the official publisher for one of the region’s most exciting creative arts events, the Red Sea International Film Festival (RSIFF).

The partnership will leverage the reach of SRMG with its audiences of 165 million people across the Middle East and globally. Covering RSIFF programming in the run up to and during the festival, editorial and advertising content will be featured on SRMG’s digital, social, broadcast and print platforms across more than 30 of the region’s most impactful media titles. These include Asharq Al-Awsat, Arab News, Asharq News, Hia and Sayidaty.

SRMG and RSIFF have established a shared commitment of championing the multimedia and creative arts industries, making them natural partners for the 2021 Festival. SRMG has built a five-decade legacy as a media and content powerhouse, while RSIFF has carved the way for a new generation of Saudi creatives and storytellers since its inception.

Saleh Aldowais, Chief Operating Officer at Saudi Research and Media Group, said: “We’re excited about our appointment as the official publishing partner for one of Saudi Arabia’s leading creative cultural events, the Red Sea International Film Festival. This is both a strategic and creative alliance for SRMG and RSIFF, reflecting our shared goals and commitment to creating the highest quality media and arts content for and of the region.”

Shivani Pandiya Malhotra, Red Sea International Film Festival Managing Director, added: “We are proud to be partnering with one of most dynamic media houses, SRMG, for the 2021 edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival. The Festival aims to promote cross-cultural exchange and foster the growth of the Arab film industry, positioning Saudi Arabia as a contributor to the international film industry while delivering a world-class event for local communities. Working together with SRMG, we are aligned in our goal of creating a platform to new and established Arab voices in the creative arts, in 2021 and beyond.”

The 2021 festival is expected to be the most prolific yet for RSIFF, with 135 films premiering at the event from more than 67 countries. RSIFF will showcase the best films from the region and a carefully curated selection of international acclaimed titles - encouraging dialogue and presenting different cultures and traditions from around the world. The Festival provides Saudi talent with a platform for storytelling, and through dedicated funds develops and nurtures local filmmakers as well as promoting film production in the region.

Operating since 1972, Saudi Research and Media Group (SRMG) is a global media house from the Middle East and North Africa with a portfolio of more than 30 major media outlets – including Asharq Al-Awsat, Asharq News and Arab News – delivering information, news, and lifestyle content to a monthly audience of more than 165 million.

Listed on the Tadawul stock exchange in Riyadh, SRMG is focused on delivering original, exclusive, and premium content in multiple languages to empower consumers with news and information through digital and social platforms, in addition to its leading cable and satellite reach.

Through its many platforms, content, and voices, SRMG is uniquely positioned to capitalize on fast-growing opportunities for digital content distribution, online advertising and commercial partnerships in the media and entertainment market worldwide.

Headquartered in Riyadh, KSA, SRMG has offices in 18 locations around the world, including London and Dubai. Find out more about SRMG here: www.srmg.com.

The inaugural edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival in partnership with the MBC GROUP, Saudia Airlines and VOX Cinemas is set to bring the best in Arab and World Cinema to the UNESCO world heritage site of Jeddah Old Town from December 6-15, 2021.

The Festival will showcase a compelling slate of new and diverse films, alongside a retrospective programme celebrating the masters of cinema as well as introducing audiences to exciting new voices from the region and beyond. The Festival will provide a platform for Arab filmmakers and industry professionals from around the world to connect, host feature and short film competitions, and present a series of events, masterclasses, and workshops to support emerging talent. Find out more about the Red Sea Film Festival: www.redseafilmfest.com


Publicis Groupe employees can work from anywhere in world for limited time

Publicis Groupe employees can work from anywhere in world for limited time
Updated 08 December 2021

Publicis Groupe employees can work from anywhere in world for limited time

Publicis Groupe employees can work from anywhere in world for limited time
  • Advertising giant introduces ‘Work Your World’ experience for staff

PARIS: Publicis Groupe has announced a new global employee program called “Work Your World.”

Launching in January 2022, the program will allow Publicis Groupe employees to work from any country where the company is present, for up to six weeks a year.

The move comes after nearly two years of organizations adopting different work models as the pandemic led to many employees working from home and continuing to do so after restrictions were eased.

“We have been working hard on how to turn the hybrid world into new opportunities for everyone at Publicis, and make the future of work more creative and more daring,” said Arthur Sadoun, global chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe.

The new work model is possible, in part, via Marcel, the company’s internal artificial intelligence platform that connects all its global employees. Through Marcel’s landing page, employees will be able to browse different destinations in more 100 countries; see live health and travel updates on different locations; find accommodation through “Home Swap” — essentially an “Airbnb” for Publicis employees — and access a 24-hour contact center.

“Our people have been incredibly resourceful despite the limitations of the pandemic. They deserve to work for a company as resourceful as they are. ‘Work Your World’ can help every Publicis employee “work their world” in a bigger, better and brighter way thanks to our scale, diversity and Marcel,” said Carla Serrano, global chief strategy officer of Publicis Groupe. 

The company will release more details about the program later this month.