Blinken encourages Tunisia reform in talks with leader

Blinken encourages Tunisia reform in talks with leader
Riot police face demonstrators during a rally in Tunis on Saturday. (AP)
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Updated 22 November 2021

Blinken encourages Tunisia reform in talks with leader

Blinken encourages Tunisia reform in talks with leader
  • President Kais Saied and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed recent developments in Tunisia

TUNIS: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken encouraged Tunisia’s leader to make reforms to respond to Tunisians’ hopes for “democratic progress,” the US State Department said on Sunday, nearly four months after President Kais Saied seized political power.

Saied said last week he was working nonstop on a timetable for reforms to defuse growing criticism at home and abroad since he dismissed the Cabinet, suspended parliament and took personal power in July.

Last week, thousands of Tunisians protested near parliament in the capital, demanding he reinstate the assembly, while major foreign donors whose financial assistance is needed to unlock an International Monetary Fund rescue package for the economy have urged him to return to a normal constitutional order.

“The secretary encouraged a transparent and inclusive reform process to address Tunisia’s significant political, economic, and social challenges and to respond to the Tunisian people’s aspirations for continued democratic progress,” the State Department said in a statement about a call between Blinken and Saied.

It added that Blinken and Saied discussed recent developments in Tunisia, including the formation of the new government and steps to alleviate the economic situation.

A Tunisia presidency statement said earlier that the US would offer support to Tunisia once it has announced dates for political reform. Saied seized nearly all powers in July in a move his critics called a coup, a decade after the Arab Spring’s first and only successful pro-democracy uprising, before installing a new prime minister and announcing he would rule by decree.

Saied has defended his takeover as the only way to end governmental paralysis after years of political squabbling and economic stagnation, and he has promised to uphold rights and freedoms won in the 2011 revolution.


Swedish MEP cuts hair during speech in solidarity with Iranian women

Swedish MEP cuts hair during speech in solidarity with Iranian women
Updated 7 sec ago

Swedish MEP cuts hair during speech in solidarity with Iranian women

Swedish MEP cuts hair during speech in solidarity with Iranian women
  • "Until the women of Iran are free we are going to stand with you," Iraqi-born Abir Al-Sahlani said in the parliament in Strasbourg

BRUSSELS: A Swedish member of the European Parliament lopped off her hair during a speech in the EU assembly in solidarity with anti-government demonstrations in Iran ignited by the death in morality police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
“Until Iran is free, our fury will be bigger than the oppressors. Until the women of Iran are free we are going to stand with you,” Iraqi-born Abir Al-Sahlani said in the parliament in Strasbourg, France, on Tuesday evening.
Then, taking a pair of scissors, she said “Jin, Jiyan, Azadi” — Kurdish for “Woman, Life, Freedom” — as she snipped off her ponytail.
Leading French actresses including Juliette Binoche and Isabelle Huppert have also cut locks of hair in protest over Amini’s death after she was arrested in Tehran on Sept. 13 for “inappropriate attire.”
Iran’s clerical rulers have been grappling with the biggest nationwide unrest in years since her death and protests have spread abroad including London, Paris, Rome and Madrid in solidarity with Iranian demonstrators.


Qatar emir in Prague for state visit

Qatar emir in Prague for state visit
Updated 15 min 5 sec ago

Qatar emir in Prague for state visit

Qatar emir in Prague for state visit
  • Czech Republic holds rotating presidency of EU

RIYADH: Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani has arrived in Prague for a state visit to the Czech Republic, Qatar News Agency reported.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed, the Qatari ambassador to the Czech Republic, said that relations between the two countries had developed rapidly over the last two years and he noted the opening of the Czech embassy in Doha as an example.

An announcement is expected during Sheikh Tamim’s visit that Qatar will open an embassy in Prague.

The emir will discuss with Czech President Milos Zeman and senior officials the strengthening of bilateral cooperation in political, economic, and cultural fields as well as health, tourism, and sports, the QNA said.

Sheikh Tamim was greeted with a reception ceremony at the presidential residence in Prague Castle, where the Qatari and Czech national anthems were played.

Jan Zahradil, the first vice chair of the European Parliament’s committee on international trade, ​​emphasized the significance of Sheikh Tamim’s trip.

He said: “The visit comes in times where the Czech Republic holds the rotating presidency of the European Union and also in times where the Czech Republic and European Union as a whole are facing an unprecedented energy crisis.”


French actors cut hair in solidarity with Iranian women

French actors cut hair in solidarity with Iranian women
Updated 12 min 35 sec ago

French actors cut hair in solidarity with Iranian women

French actors cut hair in solidarity with Iranian women
  • Celebrities Juliette Binoche, Marion Cotillard join others in protest after death of Mahsa Amini

LONDON: More than 50 high-profile French actors, models, singers and other celebrities have filmed themselves cutting their hair in support of Iranian women amid protests against the country’s harsh hijab laws.

Actors Juliette Binoche, Marion Cotillard, Isabelle Adjani and Isabelle Huppert have been joined by the Belgian singer Angèle in the hair-cutting videos of solidarity with Iranian women risking their lives to protest against the regime.

Singer Jane Birkin, her daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg and actor Charlotte Rampling contributed their own clips alongside Julie Gayet, the wife of former French President François Hollande.

Cutting their hair “for freedom,” a compilation of the celebrities’ videos was produced with the soundtrack of a Persian version of the Italian folk song Bella Ciao.

Actress Juliette Binoche cuts her hair as a part of a protest following death of Iranian woman Mahsa Amini, in this still image obtained from a social media video. (Reuters)

The young Iranian singer Gandom has produced the cover of the iconic song, which was an anthem of the Italian resistance movement during the Second World War, now used regularly as an international cultural symbol for freedom and resistance to tyranny.

The videos were shared on Instagram with the hashtags #soutienfemmesiran (“Support Iranian Women”) and #HairforFreedom.

The videos reflect footage arising from Iran, where women have been removing their hijabs and cutting their hair in protest since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was murdered by a mob after she violated stricter hijab rules brought in my President Ibrahim Raisi.

The compilation on Instagram was shared with the caption: “It is impossible not to denounce again and again this terrible repression. The dead are already numbered in the dozens, including children. The arrests only add to the number of prisoners already illegally detained and too often tortured. We have therefore decided to respond to the call by cutting off some of our strands of hair.”

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A century ago, the autonomous sheikhdom of Arabistan was absorbed by force into the Persian state. Today the Arabs of Ahwaz are Iran's most persecuted minority
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Italy’s new ambassador to UAE takes office

Italy’s new ambassador to UAE takes office
Updated 05 October 2022

Italy’s new ambassador to UAE takes office

Italy’s new ambassador to UAE takes office
  • Lorenzo Fanara had been the Italian envoy to Tunisia and previously served as his country’s permanent representative to the EU in Brussels
  • Tunisian political leaders praised Fanara for his work representing Italy in Tunisia throughout the coronavirus pandemic

ROME: Italy’s new ambassador to the UAE, Lorenzo Fanara, on Wednesday officially took over his office in Abu Dhabi from predecessor Nicola Lener.

Prior to taking on the role, Fanara was the Italian envoy to Tunisia and previously served as his country’s permanent representative to the EU in Brussels, then Moscow, London, and Rome, where he was foreign affairs deputy head of cabinet.

Since March 2018, he has acted as Italy’s head of mission in the Tunisian capital Tunis where he was recently received by President Kais Saied and Prime Minister Najla Bouden. During the meeting, the Tunisian political leaders praised Fanara for his work representing Italy in Tunisia throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Fanara told Arab News: “I am honored to take up my duties in the United Arab Emirates, a dynamic and friendly country playing a crucial role for our prosperity and security.”

He pledged to, “relaunch bilateral relations and cooperate with a nation that has overcome several challenges and jointly realize long-term projects aimed at fostering innovation and sustainability.”

In a message to the Italian community in the UAE, the ambassador said he was convinced of the “fundamental importance of culture, an indispensable tool for fostering respectful dialogue and mutual knowledge.”

He also pointed out the need to boost collaboration between Italy and the UAE on scientific and technological matters.


Palestinian killed by Israeli army in West Bank: Palestinian ministry

Palestinian killed by Israeli army in West Bank: Palestinian ministry
Updated 05 October 2022

Palestinian killed by Israeli army in West Bank: Palestinian ministry

Palestinian killed by Israeli army in West Bank: Palestinian ministry
  • Statement: Alaa Zaghal ‘died of a bullet wound to the head fired by the occupation (Israeli) army’

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: A Palestinian was shot dead and at least two others injured Wednesday by Israeli forces during an operation near Nablus in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said.
Alaa Zaghal, 21 “died of a bullet wound to the head fired by the occupation (Israeli) army in Deir Al-Hatab, east of Nablus,” a statement read.